NO WESLEY So, no Rogelio Antonio, Jr., no Mark Paragua, no Oliver Barbosa, no Darwin Laylo.
No problem for Team Philippines?
Asia’s first GM Eugene Torre certainly hopes so.
“We have a very good team now. It's a solid, fighting team,”said Torre, who will make a record 23rd straight appearance -- and 24th overall -- when the 42nd World Chess Olympiad begins in Baku, Azerbaijan on Sept. 2.
“The players who are not with the team are all very good. Wesley (So) is already in the Top 10 of the world. But I feel we have assembled the best players available given the situation,” said Torre in an interview with People’s Tonight.
Torre, who made his Olympiad debut in Siegen, Germany in 1970 behind Renato Naranja, admitted the team will be hard-pressed to match its historic seventh-place finish in the 1988 Thessaloniki Olympiad or even surpass its 46th-place finish in the 2014 Tromso Olympiad.
But Torre, the ‘Poster Boy'’of Philippine chess in the 70s, is not giving up on a team bannered by United States-based GMs Julio Catalino Sadorra and Rogelio Barcenilla, Jr., 2008 Dresden Olympiad sensation GM John Paul Gomez and world juniors campaigner IM Paulo Bersamina.
“As Filipino, you always do your best to represent the country in international competitions,” said Torre, who played top board for a record 17 straight Olympiads from 1972 Skopje to 2004 Calvia before giving way to Paragua in 2006 Turin.
On possibly playing another memorable Olympiad in Baku, Torre said: “Let me try again.”
The 64-year-old champion from Iloilo has played in every edition of the Olympiad since 1970, including board two twice (1970, 2006) and board three thrice (2010, 2012, 2014). The only time he did not play was in 2008 Dresden but he still joined the team as coach.
His most memorable moment came in 1974 Olympiad in Nice, France where he earned his GM title while bagging the silver medal. He also captured the bronze medals in 1980 Malta and 1986 Dubai.
Overall, Torre has played 259 games, including 94 wins, 122 draws and 43 losses for a total of 155 points behind only the all-time high of 176.5 points by GM Lajos Portisch of Hungary in 260 games.
In the 2014 Tromso Olympiad, Torre had three wins, five draws and one loss at board three
Sadorra, who assumed the top board in 2014 following So's controversial transfer to the US, will try to improve his 4-5-2 win-draw-loss record in Tromso.
Gomez, who will man board two, will make his fourth Olympiad appearance since 2008 Dresden where he nailed his GM title. The Biñan, Laguna-based champion, who missed the event in 2012, has 11 wins, 14 draws and six losses.
Barcenilla, who will play in his fourth Olympiad. is best remembered as a member of the 1988 team in Thessaloniki, Greece where the Filipinos made their best finish of seventh place.
The US-based Barcenilla last played in 1996 Olympiad in Yerevan, Armenia where he posted eight points on six wins, two losses and four draws.
Bersamina, who finished in a tie for 14th place in the World Juniors in India last week, will serve as alternate.
In the women’s team are WGM-candidate Janelle Mae Frayna, WIM Jan Jodilyn Fronda, WNM Cristy Lamiel Bernales, WFM Shania Mae Mendoza and WIM Catherine Perena-Secopito.
Davao City-based chess official.James Infiesto is the men’s team captain.
NCFP executive director GM Jayson Gonzales will handle the women’s team.