Pinoy chess team faces tough job ahead

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    AFTER starting with a solid win over Belarus last Saturday, the Philippines lost to Belgium and Australia and slipped to solo fifth with 19.5 points after six rounds in the 10-team Pool A of Division 2 of the 2020 FIDE Online Olympiad.

    Anchored by US-based Grandmaster Mark Paragua, the Filipinos opened their bid with a 4.5-1.5 triumph to Belarus in the fourth round only to absorb beatings from Belgium (2.5-3.5) and Australia (2-4), respectively, in the next rounds.

    After six rounds of the nine-round round robin tournament, Bulgaria showed the way in the group with 27.5 points, with Germany (25.0) and Australia (26.0) running second and third, respectively.

    The top three teams from the pool will advance to the top division with 40 teams competing that will determine the first FIDE Online team champion.

    Among the teams seeded in the top division is the US squad featuring Grandmaster Wesley So, now ranked No. 8 in the world FIDE ratings, and the Norwegian team led by world champion Magnus Carlsen.

    With a FIDE rating of 2573, Paragua led the charge against Belarus by beating higher-ranked GM Vladislav Kovalev (2633) while International Master Daniel Quizon and Woman International Master Kylen Joy Mordido picked up the other online wins for the Pinoys.

    Quizon subdued FIDE Master Denis Lasavik and Mordido topped Woman FIDE Master Aliaksandra Tamarenka, respectively.

    Veteran GM Joey Antonio, Woman Grandmaster Janelle Mae Frayna and WIM Bernadette Galas drew their respective matches to earn a half-point each.

    In the last three rounds scheduled to be played yesterday, the Filipinos were set to clash with Bulgaria, Bangladesh and Turkmenistan, in that order.

    Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Chess Federation, known by its French acronym FIDE, decided to scrap the 44th edition of the Chess Olympiad originally scheduled Aug. 5-17 in Khantiy-Mhansiysk, Russia and reset it to the Russian capital of Moscow next year.