Pinoy chessers outduel Uruguay squad in Olympiad On Track!

KHANTY-Mansiysk, Russia – GM John Paul Gomez and IM Richard Bitoon came through with a pair of inspiring victories as the Philippines trounced Uruguay, 3-1, in the fifth  round of the 39th World Chess Olympiad at the Khanty-Mansiysk Sports Development Center here Sunday.

Gomez outdueled FM Manuel Larrea  in 33 moves of the Neo Gruenfeld while Bitoon crushed Alvaro Guerrero in 43 moves of the Caro-Kann to keep the Filipinos’ hopes alive halfway through the prestigious, 11-round tournament dubbed as the “Olympics’ of chess.

GM Wesley So  salvaged a draw in a tricky endgame battle with  GM Andres Villa Rodriguez in 52 moves of the Trompovsky, while GM Eugene Torre halved the point with IM Bernardo Roselli in 26 moves of the Nimzo-Indian to complete the Filipinos’ day of triumph.

The win propelled the 37th-seeded Filipinos to a share of 16th to 38th places with seven points on three wins, one draw and one loss in the match point-style scoring system which gives two points for a win, one point for a draw and zero for a loss.

The Filipinos are three full points behind defending champion Armenia, Hungary and Georgia with still six rounds remaining.

Armenia subdued Russia-2,2.5-1.5, Hungary shocked top seed Russia-1, 2.5-1.5, and Georgia  overwhelmed Vietnam, 3.5-.5, in featured fifth-round matches.
Gomez, playing board two for the country in the absence of GM Rogelio Antonio,Jr., parlayed a slight  middle game advantage into a smashing victory over the lower-rated Larrea (EO 2323).

The multi-awarded campaigner from La Salle, who earned his GM title during the Dresden Oympiad two year ago, capitalized on Larrea’s blunder which led to the queen capture on the 32 nd move.

Bitoon, who provided the lone victory in the Filipinos’ 2.5-1.5 win over Paraguay in the fourth round Saturday,  gave up a rook for a knight on the 24th move to gain attacking chances and then  pounced on a weak queen push by Guerrero four moves later to seize control in a rook versus bishop endgame. The lower-rated Guerrero resigned with Bitoon threatening to capture black’s remaining bishop on the board.

The win enabled Bitoon to emerge as the Fiipinos’ leading scorer with three wins and two draws in five rounds.

In the women’s division, the Philippines continued its respectable showing by drawing with No. 28  seed Argentina, 2-2, to raise its score to six points on two wins, two draws and one loss.

Dresden Olympiad top scorer WFM Cheradee Chardine Camacho outwitted IM Carolina Lujan, WFM Shercila Cua escapd with a draw against WGM Claudia Amura and Rulp Ylem Jose blew a winning advantage and halved the point with  WIm Marisa Zuniel.

Jedara Docena, who starred in the Filipinas’ 2-2 draw with Israel in the fourth round, struggled and lost her match against Maria Florencia Fernandez this time.

Overall, the Filipina are tied for 25th to 49th places going  into their sixth-round match against No.56 Mexico,  3.5-1.5  upset winner over the Martha Baquero Fierro-led Ecuador.

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