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Paragua lifts Phl past Sweden

Grandmaster Mark Paragua came out of a one-day break to produce the decisive win on the top board as the Philippines upset Sweden in the fifth round of the 44th Chess Olympiad in Chennai, India Tuesday.

With the rest of the matches ending in draws, the Filipinos squeezed out a 2.5-1.5 victory over the higher-ranked European squad.

The win, its fourth against one defeat, vaulted the Philippines to a tie for eighth place with 12 other nations that included fourth-seed Spain.

They take on dangerous Israel in the sixth round.

Coming off an embarrassing loss in the third round, Paragua employed the Alapin variation against the Sicilian and kept GM Erik Blomqvist on his toes.

With both players nursing passed pawns, the Swede committed a gross blunder on the 56th move under extreme time trouble.

He left his passed pawn unprotected while gobbling up a pawn on the other side of the board.

Paragua quickly removed the black pawn on the third rank and Blomqvist lost by time forfeit.

GM John Paul Gomez, playing black on the second board, drew with GM Tiger Hillarp Persson after 32 moves of a Slav defense.

In the third board, GM Darwin Laylo battled GM Jonathan Westerberg to a standoff after 35 moves of a Queen’s Gambit Accepted.

Both players committed small mistakes during the game that ended with Laylo initiating a draw via repetition of moves.

The draw snapped Laylo’s three-game winning streak.

International Master Paulo Bersamina and GM Emmanuel Berg both had a pair of bishops and equal number of pawns when they agreed to a truce after 34 moves of a Four Knight’s Game.

Armenia and India 2 shared the lead with perfect scores.

Top seed United States edged Israel, 2.5-1.5, with Philippine-born GM Wesley So drawing his match.

In women’s play, the Philippines took a narrow 2.5-1.5 defeat at the hands of the Netherlands.

Woman GM Janelle Mae Frayna and Woman IM Jan Jodilyn Fronda lost in the first two boards, WIM Marie Antoinette San Diego won on board three while WIM Kylen Joy Mordido salvaged a draw in the last board.

Frayna, playing white, avoided the book line against the higher-ranked Eline Roebers and was outplayed in the middle game, losing a pawn and eventually the exchange. She quit after 54 moves.

Fronda, on the other hand, lost the exchange early on, won back the rook but found herself in dire trouble in doing so and got herself mated by GM Peng Zhaoqin in 42 moves of a game that started with a knight move.

San Diego provided the bright spot by whipping FIDE Master Machteld in a livewire encounter that ended with a mate after 41 moves.

In board 4, Mordido halved the point with WIM Rosa Ratsma in 43 moves with black.

The loss pulled down the Filipinas into a share of 32nd place.

India, Georgia and Romania remained the only nations with perfect scores.

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