The Philippine men’s team forced a draw with powerhouse Norway, 2-2, in the sixth round to stay in contention in the 42nd World Chess Olympiad being held at the Baku Crystal Hall in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Grandmaster (GM) Julio Catalino Sadorra blew his winning chances against reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen but consoled himself with a draw.
Playing black and defending with the French Defense, Sadorra, 30, gained a pawn advantage early after a bishop sacrifice but couldn’t hold on to it in the end after running into time trouble in the first time control to settle for a 41-move standoff.
The draw helped the Filipinos scraped out a 2-2 split after GMs John Paul Gomez, Eugene Torre and Rogelio Barcenilla, Jr. all drew their games against higher ranked GMs Jon Ludvig Hammer, Aryan Tari and Frode Urkedal, respectively.
The Filipinos dropped a 16-team group at No. 13 with nine match points each approaching the last five rounds of this biennial meet using an 11-round System format.
Janelle Mae Frayna, Jan Jodilyn Fronda and Catherine Secopito over WIM Alejandra Rodriguez Guerrero, WIM Lilia Ivonne Fuentes Godoy and WFM Miriam Parkhurst Casas on boards one to three, respectively, to give the Philippines a 3-1 win over Mexico in the women’s section.
Shania Mae Mendoza failed to cash in on her early advantage and suffered her first loss in three outings to Ivette Ale Garcia Morales on fourth board.
With the win, the Filipinos jumped into the top 10 alongside nine others with nine points apiece, just two points behind co-leaders Russia and Ukraine.
The men’s team will tangle with Italy next while the women’s side tackles two-time champion No. 8 Hungary.
Interestingly, Hungary will be the third top 10 team the Philippines faced after shocking No. 4 Georgia, 2.5-1.5, in the second round and losing to No. 5 India in the next, .5-3.5.
And Frayna was the biggest reason the Philippines is up there as she has scored 4.5 points on three wins and three draw and without a loss in six outings that kept her in the hunt of gaining the third and final norm for her to become the first Filipina Woman Grandmaster.