‘Banjo’ and co. bounce back in Olympiad

THE Philippines downed Cyprus, 3-1, to storm back into contention in the men’s side as the women’s team suffered a heartbreaking 1.5-2.5 defeat to higher-ranked Serbia after three rounds of the 44th World Chess Olympiad in Chennai, India, Monday night.

Grandmasters (GM) Rogelio “Banjo” Barcenilla, John Paul Gomez and Darwin Laylo delivered the victories that cushioned the impact of GM Mark Paragua’s shock defeat to FIDE Master (FM) Konstantinos Michaelides on the top board.

The win sent the Filipinos, seeded 52nd, into a 63-country tie for 26th place on 4.0 match points. They face 89th-ranked Monaco in the fourth round on Monday.

The loss by the Filipinas, whose participation are bankrolled by the Philippine Sports Commission, sent them from a share of the lead to 22nd place with 52 other countries. They battled Angola in the fourth round on Monday.

Woman FM Shania Mae Mendoza suffered the team’s lone defeat to Woman International Master (WIM) Adela Velikic on board three while Woman GM Janelle Mae Frayna and WIMs Jan Jodilyn Fronda and Kylen Joy Mordido all drew their matches.

Mendoza, a former University Athletic Association of the Philippines Most Valuable Player from Far Eastern University, blew a drawing chance that could have forced a 2-2 upset of the 18th-seeded Serbians.

Mordido also had her chance for a win but couldn’t cash in and settled for a draw.

The GM Jayson Gonzales-coached Filipinas defeat was their first after dumping Oman and Nicaragua in their first two assignments.

India 2 led the men’s contest with 12.5 board points but totes the same 6 match points, followed by France and Israel with 11.5 points each, and Uzbekistan and Turkey with 11 apiece. India was sixth with 10.5 points, while the US, which parades Philippine-born GM Wesley So,  was 20th with 9 match points.

In the women’s side, Bulgaria was ahead with 11.5 points, followed by Ukraine, Mongolia and Sweden with 11 points and India and Poland, Azerbaijan and The Netherlands with 10.5 points.