Filipino chess team suffers heartbreaking loss to Hungary

THE Philippine women’s team came close to stunning heavily favored Hungary and barging into the top 10 but blew its golden chances with critical mistakes in the end, resulting to a heartbreaking 2.5-1.5 defeat in the eighth round on Sunday night that sent crashing out from the top 30 of the 44th World Chess Olympiad in Chennai, India.

With the match knotted at one apiece following a win by Jan Jodilyn Fronda on board two and Kylen Joy Mordido’s loss on board four, Janelle Mae Frayna was on her way to beating an old rival in Hoàng Thanh Trang with what appeared to have been a winning position and Shania Mae Mendoza clawed her way from a losing game and a pawn down by sending it to what was a clear drawn game with Zsoka Gaal on board four.

A win by Ms. Frayna and a draw by Ms. Mendoza would have sealed the Filipinas a stunning victory against the same Hungarian squad that beat them in Baku, Azerbaijan in 2016 and a place in the top 10 after nine rounds of this 11-round biennial event.

But in a snap of a finger, Ms. Frayna missed the winning line against the same player who eliminated her in last year’s World Cup in Sochi, Russia and drew their game while Ms. Mendoza completely blundered away her drawing opportunities to concede a defeat.

That sent the country, which was being backed by the Philippine Sports Commission, stumbling down to a share of 31st place with 16 others with 11 match points instead.

But they would have a chance to redeem themselves as they battle Southeast Asian powerhouse Vietnam in the 10th and penultimate round at press time for a chance at a top 20 finish that would eclipse their forgettable 67th-place effort in the last over-the-board edition of this biennial event in Batumi, Georgia four years ago.

“It was a heartbreaking loss because Janelle was winning and Shania should have drawn. We could have beaten the strong Hungarians,” said national women’s team coach Grandmaster (GM) Jayson Gonzales.

MEN’S TEAMThe men’s team, for their part, saw IM Paulo Bersamina losing to GM Levan Pantsulaia on board four while GMs Mark Paragua, John Paul Gomez and Darwin Laylo all carving out fighting draws on the first three boards.

It sent the Filipinos to a 24-country tie at 58th spot with 10 points, but they could move up from there if they could beat the lower-ranked Guatemalans in the 10th and penultimate round at press time.

DVORKOVICH RE-ELECTED FIDE PRESIDENTFormer Russian deputy prime minister Arkady Dvorkovich was re-elected for a second term as president of the International Chess Federation (FIDE) on Sunday, defeating a Ukrainian who had criticized him over Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.

Mr. Dvorkovich, deputy prime minister from 2012 to 2018, received 157 votes in his favor and 16 against him at FIDE’s general assembly in Chennai, India, the international governing body said.

Mr. Dvorkovich, FIDE president since October 2018, ran against Ukraine’s Andrii Baryshpolets, who criticized him for his ties with the Russian leadership.

Indian chess Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand, a five-time world champion, was elected deputy president.

Mr. Dvorkovich, who gave an interview to Western media in March in which he spoke out against the Kremlin’s actions in Ukraine, quit as chair of the prestigious Skolkovo foundation in March after a lawmaker accused him of a “national betrayal.”

At the time, the chairman of the foundation’s board of directors said Mr. Dvorkovich had resigned because he could no longer combine his duties at Skolkovo with his responsibilities at FIDE.

Shortly after his comments to Western media, Mr. Dvorkovich said in a statement on Skolkovo’s website that he was “sincerely proud of the courage of our (Russian) soldiers” and that Russia had been targeted by “harsh and senseless sanctions.” — Joey Villar with reports from Reuters