Pinay blanks Mexican in Olympiad

KHANTY-Mansiysk, Russia  — GM Wesley So managed to escape with a draw from a difficult  position against GM Sergei Zhigalko  but the Philippines still  went down to Belarus, 1-3, in the sixth round of the 39th World Chess Olympiad here Monday.

So, playing the top board for the Filipinos for the first time since  his debut  as a 12-year-old prodigy in the 2006  Turin Olympiad, wisely  made the right continuation to salvage a draw with Zhilgalko in 35 moves of the Siclina Pelikan  and  Sveshnikov variations

So, who will turn 17 on Oct. 9, had a queen, rook and seven pawns against  Zhilgalko’s queen, rook, knight and three pawns when the game was agreed drawn by repetition of moves.

The Filipino champion  (ELO 2668) actually initiated complications when he gave up a knight for  two pawns on the 13th move, but  the lower-rated  Zhilgalko ( ELO 2640) kept the pressure in a queen and rook ending.

GM John Paul Gomez also  battled to  a draw with  GM Vitaly Teterev in 40 moves of the King’s Indian  but GM Darwin Laylo lost to Evgeniy Podolchenko in 92 moves of the Queen’s Indian defense and  IM Richard Bitoon bowed to IM Kiril Stupak in 58 moves of the Neo-Gruenfeld.

The ego-deflating setback, which came after back-to-back victories over Paraguay and Uruguay and  a one-day rest, proved fatal for the Filipinos, who dropped into a tie for 39th to 62nd places in the  149-team, two-week long tournament considered as the ‘Olympics’ of chess.

The  37 th-seeded Filipinos remain with only seven points, four points behind defending champion Armenia,  Ukraine and Georgia based on the matchpoint-style scoring system which gives two points for a win, one point for a draw and zero for a loss.

The Filipinos, however, will try to recover lost ground when they meet lowly No. 100 seed Puerto Rico, 2.5-1.5 winner over Iraq in the sixth round.

In the women’s division, the Philippines dumped  Mexico, 4-0, to vault into a share of 18th to 32nd places with eight points on three wins, two draws and one loss.

Cheradee Chardine Camacho, Catherine Perena, Shercila Cua and Rulp Ylem Jose swept their respective opponents to lead the Cesar Caturla-mentored women’s team  to its third straight shutout victory.

Camacho whipped  WIM Alejandra Guerrero, Perena outclassed WImLorena Aleja Mendoza, Cua demolished  Citlali Juarez Duran and Jose overwhelmed Daniuela de la Parra to complete the Filipinas’  surprisingly strong showing.

Overall, the  52 nd-seeded Filipinas  are four points behind top seed Russia-1, which  edged Ukraine, 2.5-1.5, and three points behind Hungary, which blanked Poland, 4-0.

Up next is No. 35 seed Peru, 2.5-1.5 winner over Albania.

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