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Pinoy chessers face Poland

The Philippines is fielding four grandmasters against fifth seed Poland hoping to pull off a big upset in the seventh round of the 44th Chess Olympiad in Chennai, India Friday.

It marks the first time all four regular board players will play together, underscoring the team’s determination to do well going into the final half of the 11-round Swiss System event.

“So far, so good,” GM Eugene Torre, the team’s celebrated coach, said.

“Considering our ranking (52nd), I could not ask for more. Our record of 4 wins and 1 draw against 1 loss is not bad at all.”

The Filipinos are tied for 14th spot after six rounds with 9 points, a point ahead of Poland which posted 3 wins and 2 draws against 1 defeat.

Curiously, the Philippines and Poland lost to Serbia via the same 2.5-1.5 scores.

Poland shut out Syria, 4-0; whipped Colombia, 3-1; edged Australia, 2.5-1.5, before being held to draws by Romania and France.

Poland, which bowed to Serbia in its last outing, has two GMs with ELO ratings above 2700, but only one — GM Jan Krzsztof Duda (2750) will see action against GM Mark Paragua on board one.

In contrast, no Filipino has ELO ratings reaching 2500.

GM Rogelio Barcenilla, the hero in the Philippines’ drawn match with Israel in the sixth round, will play white against GM Kacper Piorun in the second board.

GMs John Paul Gomez and Darwin Laylo, the team’s best performers with 4 points in five matches, will see action in boards 3 and 4, respectively.

Gomez plays black against GM Wojciech Moranda while Laylo takes on GM Mateusz Bartel with white.

Outside host India and Kazahkstan, the Philippines is the best Asian team so far halfway through the tournament.

Armenia, the solo leader with 12 points, battles top seed United States in one of the featured matches.

The Americans trail Armenia by only one point.

In women’s play, the Filipinas hope to regain lost ground against Bolivia.

Woman GM Janelle Mae Frayna, playing white, tests the mettle of WIM Daniela Cordero in the top board.

Other matches pit WIM Jon Jodilyn Fronda against WFM Maria Eugenia Ramirez, WIM Marie Antoinette San Diego against WFM Jessica Molina and WIM Kylen Joy Mordido against WIM Nataly Monroy.

The Filipinas are in a big group tied for 48th place with identical 7 points, 5 points off solo leader India which swept its first six assignments.

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