RP blanks rivals in Chess Olympiad

KHANTY-Mansiysk, Russia – The Philippines completed a rare double celebration in the  39th  World Chess Olympiad,  pulling off similar easy 4-0 victories over  South Korea in the  men’s division and Netherlands Antilles  in the  women’s  category in  the first  round Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) here.

GMs Wesley So, John Paul Gomez and Darwin Laylo and IM Richard Bitoon swept their lowly-rated Korean rivals in one of  44 shutout victories on opening day and put  the 37th-seeded Filipinos in the early lead in this  prestigious, two-week long competition considered as the ‘Olympics’ of chess.

So,  manning the top board for the country in only his third appearance in the Olympiad  since  2006 Turin,  made short work of Sanghoon Lee  (ELO 2146)  to set the tone for the Filipinos’ dominant showing.

Gomez, who  achieved  his GM title during the 38th  Olympiad in Dresden, Germany two years ago, trounced  Kyul Lee (ELO 1971) on board two.

Laylo , who saw action during the World Chess Cup held  in this oil-producing region  in Western Siberia  last year,  whipped  Munkhbat Chogdov (ELO  2236) on board three, while  Bitoon, a last-minute replacement to GM Rogelio Antonio Jr., crushed  Hoon Young Jun on board four.

Cheradee Chardine Camacho,  Catherine Perena, Shercila Cua and  Rulp Ylem Jose also hurdled their matches  against Netherlands Antilles to boost their chances in the women’s division.

Camacho, the 16-year-old pride of La Union who emerged as the top Filipina player during the Dresden Olympiad,  demolished Maria Elisabeth Delemarre.

Perena humbled  Nadiniela Coffie,  Cua bested Azry SalimMoussa and Jose dumped  Benigna Coffie to complete the filipinas’ day of triumph.

“I;m happy with the performance of our players,” said National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) president/chairman Prospero “Butch” Pichay, who  is set to join the  13-man Filipino delegation in Khanty-Mansiysk  later this week.

Expectedly, the twin victories  put the Filipinos in an early collision against  powerhouse countries in the second round Wednesday.

So will  get an early acid test when he  plays black against super GM Alexei Shirov  (ELO 2749)  as the Philippines battles  No. 16 seed Spain,  3.5-.5 winner over No. 90 seed Algeria in the first round.

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