Chessers bow to Greece

The Philippines could not pull off another great escape, losing to Greece, 2.5-1.5, in the eighth round of the 44th Chess Olympiad in Chennai, India Saturday.

The Filipinos battled gallantly, forcing draws in three boards but could not deny the 25th seed European nation which struck through Grandmaster Nikolaos Theodorou in board two.

The narrow defeat pulled down the Filipinos to a share of 35th place with 10 points out of a possible 16. They face Georgia in the ninth round.

GM Mark Paragua, who shocked reigning world Under-18 champion Jan-Krzysztof Duda of Poland Friday, settled for a quiet 30-move draw with GM Dimitrious Mastrovasilis of a Four Knights Game.

Playing white, the 38-year-old Filipino traded queens early with Mastrovasilis who also appeared in no mood for combat. Major pieces were swiftly disappeared on the board until both players were left with a rook, bishop and three pawns on the same side.

GM John Paul Gomez is the only Filipino not to have dropped the game so far.

Against GM Athanasios Mastrovasilis, Gomez played the Ruy Lopez safely with white, settling for swift exchanges of queens and other major piece.

By the time both players agreed to a truce on move 31, they only had one knight and seven pawns left on the board.

International Master Paulo Bersamina, playing black on the fourth board, held GM Hristos Banikas to a draw after 36 moves of a Grunfeld Defense.

Bersamina used up a lot of time planning his strategy. He won a pawn but could not find a winning line and eventually settled for a draw via repetition of moves after Banikas won back the pawn.

After three draws, the fight boiled down between GM Rogelio Barcenilla and Theodorou who were locked in a tension-filled King’s Indian Defense battle.

Barcenilla, a member of the team that placed seventh in the 1988 Olympiad in Thessaloniki, Greece, chose a double-edged variation with black, offering a knight for two passed pawns.

Things did not turn out well for the 50-year-old Filipino as the Greek managed to block the advance successfully while creating his own passed pawn on the other side of the board.

Barcenilla failed to find his way out and resigned after 57 moves.

Upsets rocked the eighth round with top seeds United States and India dropping their assignments.

The Americans lost to India’s second team, 3-1, while the host country’s top team bowed to Armenia, 1.5-1.5

Armenia, ranked only 12th, continued to top the standings with 15 points, half-a-point ahead of India 2 and Uzbekistan.

In women’s play, the Filipinas squeezed out a tough 2.5-1.5 win over Slovenia to climb into a share of 17th place with 11 points.

WGM Janelle Mae Frayna and WIM Jan Jodilyn Fronda provided the decisive wins while WIM Kylen Joy Mordido carved out a draw on the last board.

Frayna, playing black, pounced on huge 56th move blunder by IM Laura Unuk to win their English Opening match in 66 moves. The Slovenian overlooked the Filipina’s pawn march that led to the loss of a rook.

Fronda, playing white, also was a beneficiary of WIM Zala Urh’s blunder on the 18th move that led to the creation of a queening pawn. The end came in 41 moves of a Caro-Kann defense.

Mordido preserved the win with a draw with WIM Teja Vidic after 39 moves of a Slav defense.

Slovenia scored through WIM Lara Janzelj who trounced WIM Marie Antoinette San Diego after 60 moves of a Catalan Opening.

The Filipinas face Hungary next.

Host India drew with Ukraine, 2-all, to retain the lead with 15, a full point ahead of Georgia.

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