Pinoy take on Belarusians in Chess Olympiad

KHANTY-Mansiysk, Russia — After a one-day rest, the Philippines resumes its campaign in the 39th World Chess Olympiad when  it meets unpredictable Belarus in the sixth round at the  Khanty-Mansiysk Sports Development Center here Monday.

GM Wesley So, at 16 the country’s highest-rated player with an ELOof 2668,  handles  the white pieces against  dangerous and battle-tested GM Sergei Zhigalko (ELO 2640) in their top-board encounter.

GM John Paul Gomez battles GM Vitaly Teterev (ELO 2511) on board two  , while  IM Richard Bitoon meets  IM Kiril Stupak (ELO 2502)  on board four.

World Cup veteran GM Darwin Laylo returns to action after resting for two straight rounds  to face  untitled E]geniy Podolchenko on the third board.

Asia’s first GM Eugene Torre takes a much-needed break after playing for three straight rounds in place of Gomez in the third round and Laylo in the fourth and fifth rounds.

Overall, the Filipinos are tied for 16th to 35th places with seven points based on 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, however,  are three full points behind defending champion Armenia, Hungary and Georgia with still six rounds remaining.

National Chess Federation of the Philippine s(NCFP) president/chairman Prospero “Butch” Pichay said the Filipinos are still  in good position to surpass their 46th-place finish in the Dresden Olympiad two years ago.

“As I’ve said, I like our chances  now. We have a young but experienced batch of players ready to do their best for the country,” said Pichay, who arrived in this cool  and beautiful region in  Western Siberia to boost the  morale of the players  only recently.

Of the five Filipino players, Bitoon is the country’s leading scorer so far with  four points on three wins and two draws.

So, playing the top board  for the country in  only his third Olympiad appearance, opened his campaign with a win before drawing his next four assignments for three points.

Gomez has 2.5 points on two wins, one draw and one loss, while  Torre has two points on  one win and two draws in the past three days.

Laylo has the lowest point production so far with only 1.5 points on  1-1-1 win-draw-loss record.

Actually, the  37th-seeded Filipinos have already  won three matches – against South Korea ( 4-0) in the first round,  Paraguay ( 2.5-1.5) in the fourth round and Uruguay ( 3-1) in the fifth round.

They lost to Spain, 1.5-2.5, in the second round and drew with Scotland, 2-2 in the thurd round.

In the women’s division,  the Philippines plays No. 56 seed  Mexico.

Cheradee Chardine Camacho,  Shercila Cua, Rulp Ylem Jose and  Jedara Docena will lead the Filipinas’ bid for  better showing.

Although seeded only 52nd in the  115-nation field,  the Filipinas have already exceeded expectations by tying for  25 th to 49th places with six points on two wins, two draws and only one loss.

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