Torre GM Eugene Torre and the members of the Philippine chess teams in the recent FIDE World Chess Olympiad in Chennai are the special guests in the “Sports On Air” on Thursday. With them are People’s Tonight sports editor Ed Andaya, SOA moderator Ernest Hernandez and SportsCorner.PH founder Gab Ferreras.

Torre sees winning move for local chess

August 26, 2022 Ed Andaya 561 views

THE Philippine men’s and women’s chess teams, headed by Asia’s first GM Eugene Torre and GM Jayson Gonzales, hope to ride the momentum of their impressive showing in the recent FIDE World Chess Olympiad to bring more honors to the country in future international competitions.

Torre, widely considered as the “Face of Philippine chess” since the early 70s, said the Filipinos can do it again.

“We did it in the 1988 Thessaloniki Olympiad when we finished seventh overall. I think we can do it again in the future. We just have to keep trying hard,” said Torre during the 35th “Sports on Air” via Zoom on Thursday.

Torre, now 70, said the recent World Chess Olympiad held in Chennai, India is a good example.

“If you take note, Uzbekistan was the champion in the recent Olympiad. Most of their players are very young. Another former Russian republic, Moldova, finished sixth even without big-name players. It only shows that in chess, you don’t have to be a big country to win the Olympiad. You just have to work hard,'” explained Torre, who became Asia’s first GM during the 1974 Nice Oympiad

Torre, who still holds the record for playing in most Olympiads for 23 times since his debut in 1970 Skopje Olympiad to 2016 Baku Olympiad, believes the Filipino players can hold their own even against the world’s best players.

“We just have to continue to look for more youbg and talented players in the mold of super GM Wesley So and give them the proper training and exposure, added Torre.

“So, if you ask m e, I’m very satisfied with the performance of our team. Lahat ng limang members ng team nag-gain ng ELO points. Bihira yan mangyari,” explained Torre, who served as coach of the national team for the third time.

GMs Rogelio Barcenilla Jr. and Darwin Laylo, IM Paulo Barcenilla and WIMs Marie Antoinette San Diego and Kylen Joy Mordido, who also attended the weekly online sports forum, agreed with Torre.

“In the Chennai Olympiad, the team played well. But more importantly, tulungan kami lahat. Team work. Yun naman ang mahalaga in any team competition,” said Barcenilla, a member of the Philippine team which finished seventh in the 28th Chess Olympiad held in Thessaloniki, Greece.

The United States-based Barcenilla also said his teammates willingly took up the cudgels for him at Board 2 when he got sick in the final stretch of the 11-round competition.

“My mindset is hanggang kaya, lalaban talaga. Pero medyo inatake ako ng allergies. May ubo, may sipon. Dumating ako sa point na kaya ng isip ko, pero yung body hindi na kaya. Pero naintindihan naman ng mga teammates ko. Sabi nga ni GM Eugene, from Barce to Bersa. And I’m happy IM Pau (Bersamina) delivered in the final round,” recalled Barcenilla, also a two-time Asian junior champion.

Laylo also did well on Board 4 with six points on four wins, four draws and only one loss.

“It was really team effort. I’m satisfied with my performance, especially lahat ng mga nakalaban namin talagang malalakas. Except in the seventh round, maganda naman ang laro ko. Madami din akong magandang panalo,” said Laylo, who even volunteered to sit out in the second round after the team’s 4-0 start to give his teammates the opportunity to play.

“I think ito yung pinaka-best performance ko sa Olympiad,”added Laylo,who represented the country in the Olympiad for the fifth time.

Bersamina, the youngest member in tne national team, delivered the biggest victory when he upset GM Olav Olsen Urkedal (ELO2555) in the Filipinos’ all-important 2.5-1.5 win over the GM Magnus Carlsen-less Norway in the final round.

That sealed the Filipinos’ respectable 32nd-place finish in Chennai.

“As black, hindi ko talaga in-expect na manalo (in the final round). Siguro may halong swerte kaya nanalo pero maganda talaga yun nangyari,” explained Bersamina.

“While I did not get a GM norm, na-achieve ko naman yung isang goal na makakuha ng additional ELO points. At yun nga, nakatulong sa magandang placing ng team,” explained Bersamina.