Filipino legend Eugene Torre nominated for Chess Hall of Fame

Published April 21, 2021, 2:59 PM

by Kristel Satumbaga-Villar

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Filipino chess legend Eugene Torre joins the list of nominees to the World Chess Hall of Fame, becoming the first Asian male to be granted such honor.

Torre, who turns 70 in November, joins Polish-Argentine Grandmaster Miguel Najdorf and GM Judit Polgar of Hungary following FIDE Council’s approval of their nomination during its online meeting on Monday, April 20.

The FIDE historical committee composed of chairman Willy Iclicki of Belgium, Andrzej Filipowicz of Poland, Berik Balgabaev of Kazakhstan and Casto Abundo of the Philippines nominated them.

“It’s a great honor to be included in the revered list of names who I hold in high esteem. This I share with my countrymen,” said Torre.

In 1974 at age 22, Torre became Asia’s first Grandmaster after winning the silver medal in the 21st Chess Olympiad in Nice, France. He has played for the Philippines on Board 1 in 17 Chess Olympiads and has steered the PH squad in several Asian Team Championships, Asian Cities, Asian Games and Southeast Asian Games.

His peak rating went as high as 2580 in January 1983 and was the first Asian to qualify into the Quarterfinal Candidates for the 1984 World Chess Championship by becoming co-champion in the 1982 Toluca Interzonal in Mexico.

At the 2016 Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan, he finished undefeated in 11 games on Board 3 at age 65.

He also holds the record of most Chess Olympiad appearances – 25 from 1970 to 2018 including 23 as a player.

Najdorf, who died in 1997 at age 87, was the world’s leading player in the 1940s and 1950s and popularized a Sicilian variation named after him, while Polgar, 44, is generally considered as the strongest female chess player of all time with a peak rating of 2735 and world ranking of No. 8 in 2005.

There have been 37 names included in the World Chess Hall of Fame established in 1984 that include former Chinese world women’s champion Xie Jun, Akiba Rubinstein and Mark Taimanov in 2019.