LIKE he did many times in the past, Asia’s first GM Eugene Torre provided the inspiration for Team Philippines.
Torre, looking fit as a fiddle in his record 23rd Olympiad appearance from 1970 to 2016, crushed FM Daniel Anwuli in the Philippines’ 3-1 win over No. 87 seed Nigeria in the third round of the 42nd World Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Torre, at 64 one of the most-experienced players in the prestigious 11-round competition, defeated Anwuli in 45 moves of the Modern Defense for his third straight win for the 53rd-seeded Filipinos.
The multi-awarded campaigner from Iloilo City also won over Krzysztof Belzo of Jersey in the first round and GM Jose Fernando Cubas of Paraguay in the second round.
“Did you know that GM Torre who’s playing his 23rd Olympiad is 3-0?,” tweeted five-time Olympic champion Susan Polgar in expressing her admiration to Torre’s strong showing.
GM John Paul Gomez overpowered FM Bomo Kigigha in 35 moves of the Caro-Kann on board one and GM Rogelio Barcenilla, Jr. dumped IM Oladapo Adu in 45 moves of the King’s Indian Attack on board three to complete the Filipinos' second win in three rounds.
Only IM Paulo Bersamina failed to deliver as he lost to candidate master Adeyinka Adesina in 47 moves of the Sicilian on board four.
Overall, the Filipinos moved up to a tie for 28th to 80th places with four match points based on a scoring system that gives two points for a team win, one point for a draw and zero for a loss.
The Filipinos get a chance to climb in the standings even further when they take on No. 70 seed Costa Rica, 3-1 victor over South Korea.
The women’s team of WIM Janelle Mae Frayna, Jan Jodilyn Fronda, Christy Lamiel Bernales and Catherine Perena-Secopito was not as lucky this time.
A day after pulling off a shock 2.5-1.5 win over four-time champion Georgia, the Filipinas fell like dominoes in a .5-3.5 defeat to fifth seed India.
Frayna saved the day when she escaped with a draw against GM Dronavalli Harika despite giving up a pawn in the middle game.
Fronda bowed to IM Rout Padmini, Bernales succumbed to IM Sachdev Tania and Secopito yielded to WGM Swaminathan Soumya on second to fourth boards.
The 46th-seeded Filipinas have four points, good for a share of 21st to 58th places.
Up next is No. 40 seed Canada, which defeated Puerto Rico, 3-1.
A familiar face now assisting the Philippine teams in Baku is former women’s champion Lilibeth Lee-Barcenilla, wife of GM Barcenilla.
“Security ( in Baku Olympiad) is insanely very, very tight. Spectators and players not playing at the moment are not allowed to roam in the playing area," said Lee-Barcenilla.
“But I heard everybody in the Georgian team is stunned.They never anticipated it,” added Lee-Barcenilla, referring to the Filipinas’ upset win over the Georgians last Saturday.
Meanwhile, Russia led the way in both the men's and women's divisions.
Russia nipped Moldova, 3-1, on victories by GMs Ian Nepomniachtchi and Alexander Grischuk for its third straight victory.
Top favorites United States subdued Argentina, 3-1, behind the efforts of GMs Fabiano Caruana and Wesley So, while China downed Brazil, 3-1, on wins by Wang Yue and Yu Yangyi.
No. 30 Romania scored a major upset when it toppled No. 12 Norway, 2.5-1.5, with Constantin Lupulescu holding world champion Magnus Carlsen to a draw.
In the women's side, former world champion Alexandra Kosteniuk and Valentina Gunina provided the victories in the Russians' 3-1 triumph over Uzbekistan.
Second seed Ukraine edged United States, 2.5-1.5, with Anna Ushenina winning over Katerina Nemcova on board four.
The biggest surprise, however, was Vietnam, which held world champion China to a 2-2 draw.
Georgia also bounced back from rhe loss to the Philippines with a 3.5-.5 drubbing of Estonia.
E. Torre vs. D. Anwuli
1. d4 g6 2. e4 Bg7 3. c3 d6 4. Bg5 Nf6 5. Nd2 O-O 6. Ngf3 h6 7. Bh4 g5 8. Bg3 Nh5 9. Nc4 e6 10. e5 d5 11. Ne3 c5 12. Nd2 cxd4 13. cxd4 Nxg3 14. hxg3 Qb6 15. Nb3 a5 16. Ng4 a4 17. Nxh6+ Bxh6 18. Rxh6 Qb4+ 19. Qd2 Nc6 20. Kd1 Qxd2+ 21. Nxd2 Kg7 22. Rh5 Kg6 23. g4 Nxd4 24. Rc1 a3 25. b3 Bd7 26. Bd3+ f5 27. Rc7 Rf7 28. Rxb7 Bb5 29. Rxb5 Nxb5 30. Bxb5 fxg4 31. Rh2 Kf5 32. Be2 Kxe5 33. Bxg4 Rxf2 34. Bf3 Rc8 35. Rh6 Kf4 36. Rxe6 g4 37. Bxd5 Rxd2+ 38. Kxd2 Rd8 39. Re4+ Kf5 40. Rd4 Ke5 41. Kd3 Rxd5 42. Rxd5+ Kxd5 43. g3 Kc5 44. Ke4 Kb4 45. Kd4 1-0
J. Frayna vs. D. Harika
1. d4 e6 2. c4 Nf6 3. g3 d5 4. Nf3 Bb4+ 5. Bd2 Bd6 6. Nc3 O-O 7. Bg2 c6 8. b3 Nbd7 9. O-O Re8 10. Qc2 dxc4 11. bxc4 e5 12. e3 exd4 13. exd4 Nf8 14. h3 Be6 15. Qa4 h6 16. Rfd1 Qc8 17. Kh2 N8d7 18. Bf1 a6 19. c5 Bc7 20. Qc2 Nf8 21. Re1 Qd7 22. Be3 Ng6 23. Rad1 Nd5 24. Nxd5 Qxd5 25. Nd2 Qxa2 26. Qxa2 Bxa2 27. Bc4 Bxc4 28. Nxc4 Nf8 29. Rb1 Rab8 30. Re2 Ne6 31. Reb2 Nd8 32. Kg2 Re7 33. Kf3 f6 34. Ke2 Rd7 35. Kd3 Ne6 36. Kc3 Bd8 37. Ra2 Ra8 38. Rab2 Rb8 39. Ra2 Ra8 40. Rab2 Rb8 41. Ra2 Ra8 1/2-1/2