Grieving Torre saves day for PH

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Thursday, September 6, 2012


THE legendary warhorse of Asian chess is as deadly as ever.

Eugene Torre, the grizzled veteran who was once the toast of Philippine sports, flashed vintage form in beating higher-ranked GM Ferenc Berkes and lifting the Philippines to a 2-2 standoff against No. 4 seed Hungary in the seventh round of the 40th FIDE World Chess Olympiad in Istanbul, Turkey.

The 60-year-old Torre's marathon 81-move victory over Berkes on board 3 rescued the Filipino woodpushers from the jaws of defeat after grandmasters Wesley So and Mark Paragua drew their matches and GM Oliver Barbosa lost on board 2.

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Torre, Asia's first grandmaster who was inserted into the lineup starting in the fifth round only because of the death of his mother, played the white pieces superbly and had three advancing pawns in the end game that Berkes could not stop.

With the draw, the Philippines raised its total to 11 match points, just two behind solo leader and top seeded Russia and two off joint second best scorers Ukraine and China, seeded second and sixth, respectively in the tournament.

Sharing fourth place with the Filipinos are third seed Armenia, No. 5 United States, Hungary, seventh pick Azerbaijan, No. 14 Germany, 33rd seed Uzbekistan, 11th seed England and 49th seed FYROM.

After a stunning win over 10th seed Bulgaria in the sixth round, the nationals looked headed for disaster against Hungary when Barbosa (2554), the hero in the previous round, yielded to GM Zoltan Almasi (2713). So earlier (2652) drew his match with GM Peter Leko (2737) and Paragua halved the point with GM Csaba Balogh (2668).

But Torre, who has been to countless wars and writing Olympiad history with his 21st appearance, essayed a classic end game maneuver that forced Berkes to resign. Torre had four pawns and a bishop manning the white file as against Berkes' rook and a pawn.

The Philippines' eighth round opponent will be England, which whipped Georgia, 3-1.

In the women's side, the Philippines rebounded from a heartbreaking defeat at the hands of France with a masterful 3-1 win over 52nd seed Portugal.

WFM Rulp Ylem Jose and Jedara Docena spearheaded the much-needed win for the 57th seed PH squad after beating WFM Ana Baptista and WCM Sara Montero on boards two and four, respectively.

WIM Catherine Perena and Janelle Mae Frayna drew their matches.

The Pinay chessers play the United States in the next round. Both have 10 points.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on September 06, 2012.

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