GRANDMASTER (GM) Rogelio “Banjo” Barcenilla took his turn to lead the Philippines to another upset performance on Wednesday—a 2-2 draw with fancied Israel—in the sixth round of the 44th World Chess Olympiad in Chennai, India.
Barcenilla beat GM Tamir Nabaty in 64 moves of a King’s Indian on Board 2 to save the day for the Filipinos, who dropped into a tie for 14th spot with 10 other countries with 9.0 match points.
GM Mark Paragua was the last to finish as he tried to salvage a win but ended up splitting the point with GM Avital Boruchovsky in 59 moves of a Four Knights Game that sealed the stunning standoff.
GM Darwin Laylo also drew with veteran GM Ilya Smirin on Board 3, but International Master Paulo Bersamina lost to GM Evgeny Postny on the last board.
The 11-round, 12-day biennial event took a much-needed breather on Thursday before plunging back into battle in the seventh round Friday when the Philippines, sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission, clashes with No. 5 Poland.
National men’s team coach GM Eugene Torre is expected to field in an all-GM roster versus the Poles with GM John Paul Gomez expected to replace a shaken Bersamina in the lineup.
In the women’s side, the Filipinas battled the lower-ranked Ecuadorians to a 2-2 draw, a result sealed by a defeat by Woman FIDE Master Shania Mae Mendoza to WIM Anahi Ortiz Verdezoto on board two.
WGM candidate Kylen Joy Mordido delivered the lone win on board four while WIMs Jan Jodilyn Fronda and Marie Antoinette San Diego were held to draws on second and third board, respectively.
The split sent them sputtering into a 13-country tie at 48th place with 7.0 points. They play Bolivia on Friday in a match where WGM Janelle Mae Frayna is expected to be injected back into the roster in place of Mendoza.