In chess, Torre has set the standard

  • Written by Ed Andaya
  • Published in Opinion
  • Read: 392

IF I  were to tell you that one of the  greatest Filipino athletes of our  lifetime  would  be  
appearing at the Barangay N.S. Amoranto in Quezon City today, would you go there  expecting to see:

A) World  boxing champion Manny  Pacquiao.

B)  Basketball legend  Robert “Big J” Jaworski.

C)  Bowling hero Paeng Nepomuceno.

D) Billiards idol Efren “Bata”Reyes.

E)  Motocross superstar Butch Chase.

What you find there is none of  the above.
But what you would find there is an athlete who, like all the five other greatest Filipino
athletes you probably expected, is also  worth  mentioning whenever you talk about the greatest
achievers in Philippine sports.
If chess is your game, it’s next to blasphemy not to think about Asia’s first-ever
grandmaster Eugene Torre.
You see, Torre belongs to this rare breed of gentlemen whose achievements in this wonderful
world of sports remain vivid on memory even when you talk about them 40 years later.
-- Made chess history by becoming the first player from Asia to earn a GM title in Nice,
France in 1974.    
-- Earned the distinction as the “Poster Boy” of Philippine chess in the 1970s.
-- Played  top  board  for the country in 17 straight Olympiads, a world record. He played  
in  1972  Skopje, 1974  Nice 1974 (where  he achieved  his GM title and led the Philippines to a
then unprecedented 11 th-place finish),  1976  Haifa,  1978 Buenos Aires,  1980 Malta,  1982
Lucerne,  1984 Thessaloniki,  1986 Dubai, 1988 Thessaloniki  (where the Philippines recorded its
best finish at  seventh place),  1990 Novi Sad,  1992  Manila, 1994 Moscow, 1996  Yerevan,  1998  
Elista,  2000 Istanbul,  2002 Bled, and 2004 Calvia.
-- He played on board two twice in 1970 Siegen  (behind   Naranja)  and   2006 Turin   
(behind GM Mark Paragua) .
-- Bagged  the silver medal  on board  one   behind  only world champion Anatoly Karpov of
Russia  during the 1974 Nice Olympiad,   going  undefeated  in   19 matches  with 10   wins and nine
-- Bagged the   bronze medal on  board one   in  the 1986 Dubai Olympiad with  9/5 points/13
games (seven wins, five draws and one loss).
-- Bagged the  bronze medal on board one in  the 1980 Malta Olympiad with 11 points.

And Torre -- bless his big heart -- is now giving back what chess had  given him all his
Now 66, Torre is now actively promoting chess all over the country.
With  the  help of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP), the Iloilo-born
Torre is  reaching out to as many young people as possible and convince them to try and play chess.
As Torre would often say whenever one or two people are gathered to pay  tribute to him:  
“Chess is life. But life is slso chess.”
Indeed, chess life is a  good life as Torre himself has so often demonstrated.
He leads a quiet but blissful life  with  wife Marlene. He  follows an  exemplary  
lifestyle, following a  healthy dose of food  and taking regular workouts in a gym  near his home.

“You have to take good care of both your  mind and body, even if you’re not an athlete.  You
have to  stay  physically and mentally fit if you want to stay in the game (life),” said  Torre on  
the  eve of a  special 15-board simultaneous exh ibition matches  organized by the ERJHS Alumni
Sports Club at the Barangay  N.S. Amoranto Hall  in Quezon City.

The one-day event, which is held  in cooperation with Chairman Von Rommel Yalong of Barangay
Amoranto  and  the  ERJHS Batch 68,   will  also  feature a chess clinic by the Meralco Chess Club,
headed  by Rolly Sol Cruz and NMs Efren Bagamasbad  and Edgardo  Garma.
Participants  include  students of E. Rodriguez Jr. High School  in  Mayon  Ave. and  other
young  and   aspiring  players from Barangay Amoranto  and nearby barangays.
“This is one good project worth supporting. The youth would  surely  benefit  for this rare
opportunity to  meet and greet GM Eugene Torre,” said Yalong, who will  be personally  be  around to
welcome Torre.
Added  ASC adviser and University of  Santo Tomas Growling Tigers assistant coach  Rene
Baena: “The  biggest winners in sports events like this simul-exhibition of Torre  and  chess clinic
by Meralco  are  the  youth. Get into sports, stay away from drugs.”
If  you’re  a  genuine  sports fan -- or even   not -- this is  a   perfect opportunity  to
see Torre.
You might have  missed  Torre play some of  his  brilliant games in the past.You might have  
missed  him beat  former world chess champion Anatoly Karpov of Russia in a strong  four-man
tournament  in  Manila in 1976.  Or  you might have missed  him  represent the country in  the
international stage.
But you can  again  atch Torre up close and personal when he comes for a visit at Barangay
Amoranto today.
It’ll be fun.

*   *   *
The  Class 68 of  the  Eulogio Rodriguez Jr. High  School will  hold its Golden Annivesary
Reunion  on Saturday and Sunday (Feb. 24 and 25, 2018) at the Seven Gifts  Poultry and Farm in
Majayjay, Laguna.
For details, please contact Malou Francisco or Babes  Sevilla or Adolfo Tan on Facebook.
Sama-sama Noon Hanggang Ngayon – the E Rodriguez Jr High School -Class 68 - Golden
Anniversary Celebration.
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