PH routs Vietnam, Guatemala in penultimate round of World Chess Olympiad

The Philippine women’s team pulled the rug from under old nemesis Vietnam, 3-1, in the 10th and penultimate round of the 44th World Chess Olympiad in Chennai, India to move on the cusp of posting its best finish in the biennial meet.

WGM Janelle Frayna

Woman Grandmaster Janelle Mae Frayna and Woman International Masters Marie Antoinette San Diego and Kylen Joy Mordido won their games on boards one, three and four, respectively, to improve to an 11-country tie for 22nd place with 13 match points.

WIM Jan Jodilyn Fronda was the lone casualty as she lost to WGM Nguyen Thi Ma Hung on the second board.

The recent win put the Filipinas, who were battling 14th seed Cuba in the final round at press time, on the cusp of registering their best ever effort in Olympiad history.

The country placed 22nd in Thessaloniki, Greece in 1988 when powerhouse countries Soviet Union and Yugoslavia were still one country and 26th in Turin, Italy in 2006 when the two nations dissolved into multiple republics.

But regardless of what happened in the last round, the squad had already eclipsed its 67th-placed effort in the last over-the-board staging of the event in Batumi, Georgia four years ago.

“We have already surpassed our performance and score in the previous Olympiad and beating a Vietnam that always beat us here in the Olympiad makes it more significant,” said national women’s team coach GM Jayson Gonzales.

Meanwhile, the Filipinos overpowered Guatemala, 4-0, to an 18-nation logjam at 41st spot with 12 points.

If the country could beat fancied Norway, a team headed by reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen, in the final round, it would improve on a 39th-place performance the last time.