THE Philippine men’s and women’s teams opened their campaign on a bright note by shutting out their respective opponents at the start of 40th FIDE World Chess Olympiad late Tuesday at the WOW Convention Center in Istanbul, Turkey.
The No. 35th seed Philippine men's team blasted No. 112 Libya, 4-0, the same whitewashing the 57th ranked women’s side dealt to No. 121 Pakistan.
Grandmaster (GM) Wesley So used his superior ELO rating 2652 to annihilate Elarbi Abobker (2259) in 48 moves of Caro-Kann defense on Board 1, while fellow GM Oliver Barbosa (2554) nipped FM Al-Zayat Ahmed (1977) in a slightly easier 42-move Queen's Pawn Game on Board 2.
GM Mark Paragua (2508) waylaid FM Asabri Hussien (2211) after 30 moves of King's Indian defense on Board 3 and GM candidate Oliver Dimakiling (2428) completed the opening day route on Board 4 by beating Asabri Hussan (2179) in 30 moves of an English Opening.
The still grieving GM Eugene Torre, the first Filipino and Asian GM, did not see action in deference to his mother, Dona Vicenta Torre’s death.
Woman International Master Catherine Perena (2091) led the Filipinas' onslaught in the distaff side by crushing unrated Wasif Zenubia on Board 1, a win duplicated by FIDE Master Rulp Ylem Jose (2061) over Siddiqui Nida Mishraz (1670) on Board 2, WNM Jannelle Mae Frayna (1991) over Khuaja Ghazala Shabbir on Board 3 and National Master Jedara Docena (2061) at the expense of Khuaja Fatima Shabbir on Board 4.
In Wednesday's second round, the PHL men's team will be the underdog when it faces No. 23 Moldova which overwhelmed No. 100 Pakistan, 4-0; while the women's team will have an even rougher sailing against No. 16 Slovenia which brought downed No.78 Uruguay, 4-0.
"Good start. Nagkaroon na nang momentum after the first round victory," said National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) Chairman/President Prospero Pichay Jr. in Manila who will join NCFP Secretary-General Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino Jr. in flying to Istanbul on September 2 to give moral support to the teams.
So, Barbosa, Paragua and Dimakiling will play GM Viktor Bologan (2734), GM Dmitry Svetushkin (2569), IM Serghei Vedmediuc (2468) and IM Iulian Baltag (2396), respectively.
In the women's play, Perena, Jose, Frayna and Docena will meet GM Anna Muzychuk (2606), WGM Vesna Rozic (2260), WIM Jana Krivec (2240) and WGM Ana Srebrnic (2211), respectively.
The Filipino woodpushers are bidding to rebound from its worst-ever 50th place finish the last time around, while the women's team is aiming to improve on its 44th place windup in the 2010 Olympiad held in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.
NCFP Executive Director GM Jayson Gonzales is the head coach of the nationals. (PNA)