GM JULIO Catalino Sadorra did a Wesley So against reigning world champion GM Magnus Carlsen of Norway, keeping him on the edge of his seat for the entire game before settling for a draw in the 42nd World Chess Olympiad.
Sadorra, who bravely accepted the challenge of taking over So’s revered spot in local chess, put up a performance of a lifetime and came a breath away from taking the luster away from the world’s top player.
In the end, Sadorra agreed to split the point with Carlsen in 41 moves of the French defense and led the Philippines’ fighting 2-2 draw with No.12 seed Norway in the keenly-watched sixth round at the Crystal Hall in Baku, Azerbaijan.
“I was a bit disappointed (with the draw),” said the 30-year-old Sadorra when asked by five-time Olympic champion Susan Polgar during the official media interview.
“It was very special to play against Magnus and to have the daughter of the most important person of this country (Azerbaijan) participate in this Olympiad. I was enjoying the moment,” Sadorra told Polgar.
Asked about the game, Sadorra said: “The game was very tense from the beginning. Magnus, as usual, doesn’t play into your prep or theories. He missed a tactic that allowed me take over the initiative and put s ome pressure. He even gave up a pawn for pressure but it was dubious and I was able to fend off his attack and I was pushing.”
“But it was only time trouble that kept me from converting it into a win. But there’s always room for improvement, so I should be happy.”
Sadorra’s exceptional game against the world champion recalled So’s similar performance against former world champion Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria in 2010 Khanty-Mansiysk Olympiad, which also ended in a draw.
“This is a game that every Filipino chess fan should remember,” said chess journalist Ignacio Dee in his commentary for popular social media group Chess Philippines.
“Ino carried the fight to Carlsen. There was no KO blow but the pressure was there,” added Dee.
FM Mike Klein also wrote at chess.com: “Carlsen was still a bit better out of the opening perhaps, but he missed some tactics and ended up a pawn down. He was lucky to escape with a draw. Not a great game by the world champ.”
The rest of the Filipinos also did well, holding their higher-rated Norwegian opponents to draws in the remaining three boards.
GM John Paul Gomez drew with GM Jon Ludvig Hammer, GM Eugene Torre split the point with Aryan Tari and GM Rogelio Barcenilla, Jr. halved the point with GM Frode Urkedal to complete the unlikely ending.
With the draw, the Philippines stayed in the thick of the fight with nine points on four wins, one draw and one loss in the 11-round competition being held in the beautiful ‘City of Winds’ on the Caspian Sea.
The 53rd-seeded Filipinos are only three points behind solo leader India and two points behind the United States, which now has So in its line-up.
Only 10 other countries, which include defending champion China and top seed Russia, have better scores than the Philippines with still five rounds left.
Up next in the seventh round is No. 36 seed Italy, 3.5-.5 winner over Finland.
In the women’s division, the Philippines whipped Mexico, 3-1, on victories by WIMs Janelle Mae Frayna, Jan Jodilyn Fronda and Catherine Perena-Secopito.
Frayna crushed Alejandra Guerrero Rodriguez, Fronda humbled Lilua Fuentes Godoy and Secopito bested Miriam Parkhurst Casas.
Shania Mae Mendoza failed to complete a sweep when she lost to Ivette Garcia Morales.
The Filipinas moved up to a tie for 10th to 19th places with nine points on four wins, one loss and one draw.
They are only two points behind Ukraine and Russia and one point behind top seed China and six others.
In the seventh round, the Filipinas will get another big test against No. 8 Hungary.
On Thursday, Hungary was held to a 2-2 draw by Kazakhstan.
Hungary will be the third top 10 team for the Filipinas, who shocked No. 4 Georgia, 2.5-1.5, in the second round but lost to No. 5 India, .5-3.5.l, the following round.
The Filipinos are eyeing to improve their 46th-place finish in the men’s division and 64th in the women’s section.
The country’s participation is supported by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), headed by chairman William “Butch” Ramirez, and the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP), led by president Prospero “Butch” Pichay.
M. Carlsen vs. J. Sadorra
1.e4 e6 2. Nf3 d5 3. exd5 exd5 4. d4 Bd6 5. c4 Nf6 6. c5 Be7 7. Nc3 O-O 8. Be3 b6 9. b4 a5 10. a3 Ng4 11. Bf4 Re8 12. Be2 axb4 13. axb4 Rxa1 14. Qxa1 bxc5 15. bxc5 Bxc5 16. dxc5 d4 17. O-O dxc3 18. Bc4 c2 19. Qa4 Bf5 20. Nd4 Bg6 21. Nxc2 Re4 22. Bg3 Ne5 23. Bxe5 Rxe5 24. Ne3 Rxc5 25. f4 h6 26. Qb4 Nd7 27. f5 Bh5 28. Qd2 Qg5 29. Qd4 Re5 30. Qxd7 Qxe3+ 31. Kh1 Qc5 32. Qd3 Re3 33. Qc2 Qe5 34. Qd2 Kh7 35. h3 Qe4 36. Kg1 c6 37. Rc1 Qe5 38. Bf1 Rg3 39. Qf2 Qd6 40. Rc4 f6 41. Rxc6 Qxc6