PH chessers falter against Australia, playoff chance still alive

Published October 16, 2020, 7:13 PM

by Kristel Satumbaga-Villar

John Paul Gomez chess
GM John Paul Gomez

The Philippines yielded to nemesis Australia, 3-1, but remained in quarterfinal contention after eight rounds in the men’s side of the Asian Nations Online Chess Cup on Friday.

Grandmaster Mark Paragua averted a shutout by carving out a win over GM Anton Smirnov on Board 1, while GM John Paul Gomez and International Masters Haridas Pascua and Paulo Bersamina all fell by the wayside.

Gomez was the first to succumb at the expense of GM Max Illingworth on Board 3 followed by Pascua and Bersamina to GMs Temur Kuybokarov and Moulthun Ly on Boards 2 and 4, respectively.

The defeat sent the Filipinos from a share of third down to a six-nation group at No. 6 with eight match points.

It was a roller-coaster day for the Agila ng Pilipinas with a fourth-round defeat against Iran, only to bounce back against Mongolia in the which sent them just a point off the pace.

But the Australians were a tough nut to crack, having won their previous meeting in the Division II of the FIDE Online Olympiad last August.

The only consolation of the day was Paragua’s win over Smirin that avenged the New York-based Filipino’s loss in the Olympiad.

Despite the setback, the PH team remained in the hunt for one of the eight slots to the knockout playoff round as there are still three rounds remaining set on Monday.

In women’s action, the Lady Agilas clash with Kyrgyzstan in the fourth round Saturday.