FIVE rounds ago, the GM Eugene Torre-coached Philippine team hit rock-bottom at 101st place following an alarming three-game losing skid in the 43rd World Chess Olympiad in Batumi, Georgia..
The players -- all five of them -- couldn’t do anything right, anything good for three long rounds from third to fifth rounds.
Torre, ever the optimist, kept the faith.
An unbelievable five-round winning streak capped by Friday's decisive 3-1 win over Ecuador finally did the trick for Torre and the 54th-seeded Filipinos.
Overall, the Filipinos are now tied for 13th to 19th places with 14 points on seven wins and three losses with more than a fair chance of climbing higher depending on the outcome of their 11th and final round match against Southeast Asian rival Vietnam.
Defending chanpion United States, led by Filipino GM Wesley So, and China share the top spot with 17 points.
The Americans and the Chinese clash in the final round.
Stepping up on bat against Ecuador were IMs Jan Emmanuel Garcia and Haridas Pascua, who hurdled their rivals in the bottom two boards to provide the much-needed victories.
Garcia, the hero in the Philippines' 2.5 -1.5 win over Zambia in the previous round, subdued FM Kevin Noboa on board three, while Pascua, who has now won five of his last six matches, trounced IM Miguel Munoz Sanchez
United States-based GM Julio Sadorra and GM John Paul Gomez did their share by drawing their matches against GM Carlos Franco and IM Cristhian Rivadeneira, respectively, on the first two boards.
It was not a good round for the WGM Janelle Mae Frayna-led women’s team, which lost 1.5-2.5 to Moldova and fell to 46th place with 11 points on five wins, one draw and four losses.
Frayna, the country's highest-rated female player, lost what could have been a won game against WIM Diana Baciu.
Also losing was WIM Bernadette Galas, who fell to WFM Paula-Alaxandra Gitu.
WIM Catherine Perena-Secopito won over WFM Olga Hincu and WFM Shania Mae Mendoza drew with IM Svetlana Petrenko.
“It was sorry loss for our team. We could have won the match against Moldova. Janelle is winning. Instead of king to h1, it should be queen to f2. This is really unfortunate,” said GM Jayson Gonzales.
The Filipinas hope to finish their campaign with a bang against No. 33 seed Australia.
The Filipinos' campaign is supported by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), headed by Chairman William “Butch’ Ramirez, thru the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP), led by President/Chairman Rep. Prospero “Butch” Pichay and secretary-general Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino..
H. Pascua vs. M.Munoz
1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 g6 3. Bg2 d5 4. c4 d4 5. b4 Bg7 6. Bb2 c5 7. O-O O-O 8. d3 Nfd7 9. Nbd2 Nc6 10. a3 e5 11. Nb3 Re8 12. Nfd2 f5 13. bxc5 Qe7 14. a4 Nf6 15. Qc2 h5 16. Nf3 Be6 17. Rfe1 Rad8 18. Rad1 Ng4 19. h3 f4 20. hxg4 hxg4 21. Nh2 Qg5 22. Bc1 Qh5 23. gxf4 Kf7 24. e3 Rh8 25. Nf1 g5 26. fxg5 e4 27. exd4 Rxd4 28. Qd2 Be5 29. g6+ Kxg6 30. Rxe4 Rd7 31. Rde1 Rdh7 32. Rxe5 Nxe5 33. Qf4 1-0