Pinay chessers on a roll

The Philippines edged Nicaragua for its second-straight win in the women’s section but failed to overcome sixth-seed Azerbaijan in the Open division in the resumption of the 44th Chess Olympiad in Chennai, India Saturday.

Woman Grandmaster Janelle Mae Frayna completed a winning debut by trouncing Woman International Master Maria Esther Granados after 29 moves of a Sicilian Defense.
Playing white on the top board, Frayna held on to the initiative and forced the win after Granados blundered a piece guarding the king.

Woman FIDE Master Shania Mae Mendoza, playing board three, also picked up a win with white at the expense of Patricia Alvarez Gutierrez after 28 moves of a Caro-Kann.

WIM Jan Jodilyn Fronda, playing black on the second board, secured the 2.5-1.5 triumph by drawing with Michelle Ferrufino after 37 moves of another Sicilian.

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF Philchesstournaments/FB
SHANIA Mae Mendoza rolls to second straight triumph with the white pieces against Nicaragua’s Patricia Alvarez Gutierrez.

The only casualty was WIM Marie Antoinette San Diego who bowed to Maria Jose Granados Ortiz after 28 moves of a Pirc defense.

The victory earned the Filipinas a third-round clash with 18th seed Serbia on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Filipinos could only muster 1 point against Azerbaijan.

GMs Mark Paragua and John Paul Gomez held their own with the white pieces to draw their assignments against higher-ranked opponents.

But GM Rogelio Barcenilla and IM Paulo Bersamina dropped their matches with black on boards 2 and 4, respectively.

Paragua showed deep understanding of the Nyezhmetdinov-Rossolimo Fianchetto variation of the Sicilian defense, but could not press home the slim advantage against GM Rauf Mamedov who dwarfs his ELO rating by nearly 200 points.

The former chess prodigy, the first Filipino to breach the 2600 ELO barrier, was two pawns up and threatening mate, but Mamedov forced the draw via perpetual check on Paragua’s unguarded king.

The draw came after 38 moves.

Gomez, on the other hand, drew with GM Vasif Durarbayli in 31 moves of a Slav defense.

Ranged against GM Gadir Guseinov, the highest-ranked Azerbaijani in action, Barcenilla struggled to hold his position despite essaying his pet Ruy Lopez Opening.

Guseinov forced Barcenilla on the defensive with active play and built a strong position anchored on controlling the open files and keeping the Filipino’s knights out of play.

Barcenilla resigned after 38 moves after it became apparent that he had to sacrifice his queen to avoid mate.

Bersamina also crumbled with the Ruy Lopez against GM Nijat Abasov, raising the white flag in 41 moves.

The Filipinos get a chance to bounce back against lowly Cyprus on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Philippine-born Wesley So rolled to his second-straight victory to help top seed United States to a 3.5-0.5 beating of Angola.

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