EVEN before the final moves of the 42nd World Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan are made, Janelle Mae Frayna has already achieved her goal.
Or make it two goals.
First, Frayna made history by becoming the country’s first-ever woman grandmaster with a draw against IM Daavademberel Nomin-Erdene of Mongolia in the ninth round Sunday.
The 20-year-old pride of Legazpi City is the first Filipina to achieve the WGM title -- a feat surpassed only by GM Eugene Torre, who became Asia’s first GM in 1974.
Secondly, Frayna achieved another milestone -- earning a men’s international master title following a decisive victory over IM Olga Zimina of Italy in the 10th and penultimate round.
A graduating Psychology student and cum laude candidate at Far Eastern University, Frayna earned two men’s IM norms in this Olympiad to add to the first she gained during the 2014 Battle of GMs-National Finals in Manila.
Frayna, however, will have to wait for her men’s IM title.
The former UAAP ‘Athlete of the Year’ needs to raise her current ELO rating of 2281 to ELO 2400 to be awarded the men’s IM title.
“We’re all very happy for Janelle. She deserves both the WGM and IM titles,” said GM Jayson Gonzales, executive director of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) in a message sent to People’s Journal/Tonight.
“Becoming the country’s first WGM -- and IM -- is an unprecedented feat,” added Gonzales, also Frayna’s personal coach-trainer.
“The NCFP will continue to give her the support she needed. We will send ger to select tournaments abroad where she can improve her ELO ratings to gain the men’s IM title,” explained Gonzales.
Gonzales, who brought Frayna to Manila from Bicol in 2010, said congratulatory messages from Sen. Koko Pimentel, Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman William “Butch” Ramirez, NCFP president Prospero “Butch”Pichay and FIDE general-secretary Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino have already been sent to Frayna.
Gonzales also said FEU is also set to give Frayna a hero’s welcome in its Morayta campus when the 10-man Filipino delegation returns home later this week.
With Frayna and first timer Shania Mae Mendoza winning over Zimina and Desiree Di Benedetto, the Filipinas edged Italy, 2.5-1.5, in Monday’s 10th round.
The win put the 46th-seeded Filipinas in a tie for 16th to 28th places with 13 points on six wins, one draw and three losses.
They are five points behind virtual champion China, which has 18 points, and three points behind Russia, which has 16 points.
So far, Frayna is the country’s leading scorer with seven points on five wins, four draws and only one loss.
In Baku, Frayna battled three players with men’s GM titles -- Nana Dzagnidze of Georgia, Dronavalli Harika of India and Hoang Thanh Trang of Vietnam, one men IM in Zimina and two WIMs -- Sabrina Latreche of Algeria and Alejandra Guerrero Rodriguez of Mexico.
In the men’s division, GM Eugene Torre made short work of FM Iain Gourlay in the Filipinos’ 4-0 win over Scotland.
Torre, who is playing in his 23rd Olympiad, boosted his bid for an individual medal with his amazing record of nine points on eight wins and two draws.
The 64-year-old Filipino champion is currently at No. 5 with a performance rating of 2813 on board three.
Former teammate GM Wesley So, who now represents the United States, leads the race with 2883.
GM Rauf Mamedov of Azerbaijan is second with 2839, followed by GM Ian Nepomniachtchi of Russia with 2837 and GM Zoltan Almasi of Hungary with 2819.
GMs Julio Catalino Sadorra, John Paul Gomez and Rogelio Barcenilla, Jr. also won their matches to give the Filipinos a 10-round total of 12 points.
Another win over Australia in the final round will give them a decent finish.
E. Torre (PHI) vs. I. Gourlay (SCO)
1. d4 d5 2. Bf4 c5 3. e3 Nc6 4. c3 Nf6 5. Nd2 e6 6. Ngf3 Bd6 7. dxc5 Bxc5 8. Bd3 O-O 9. O-O Re8 10. e4 e5 11. Bg5 dxe4 12. Nxe4 Be7 13. Bxf6 Bxf6 14. Qc2 g6 15. Rad1 Qe7 16. Bc4 Bf5 17. Rfe1 Rad8 18. Bd5 Be6 19. Bxc6 bxc6 20. Nxf6+ Qxf6 21. Rxd8 Rxd8 22. Nxe5 Bxa2 23. h3 Re8 24. Qe4 Qd6 25. Re3 Bd5 26. Qf4 Rb8 27. b4 Re8 28. Nxg6 Qd8 29. Ne5 Be6 30. Rg3+ Kf8 31. Qh6+ Ke7 32. Nxc6+ 1-0