KHANTY-MANSIYSK, RUSSIA—On the eve of the final round of the 39th World Chess Olympiad, two Filipinos gained a share of the spotlight by finally receiving their Grandmaster titles.
Barcenilla, now based in Texas with his family, and Salvador, who now lives in Italy, were officially conferred the GM titles during the 81st FIDE Congress held at the Complex Arena Ugra here.
“We’re happy to have two more new GMs,” said National Chess Federation of the Philippines president Prospero “Butch” Pichay, who represented the two players along with secretary general Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino and FIDE representative Toti Abundo. “They really deserved the titles.”
The good news came as the Philippines prepared to take on Estonia in the 11th round, where the country hopes to seal a victory to improve on its 46th-place finish in the previous Olympiad.
GM Wesley So will play top board for the 37th-seeded Filipinos for the 10th time in 11 rounds. He will face GM Kaido Kulaots (Elo 2592).
GM John Paul Gomez will take on GM Meelis Kanep (Elo 2532), GM Darwin Laylo will battle IM Olav Sepp (Elo 2485) and IM Richard Bitoon will tackle IM Aleksandr Volodin (Elo 2433) in the other matches.
GM Eugene Torre, who played in his record 20th Olympiad in 40 years, took a rest. The 58-year-old Filipino hero finished with 4.5 points on three wins, three draws and one loss.
Overall, the Filipinos are now tied for 31st to 44th places with 12 points on five wins, two draws and three losses. After the Sonneborn-Berger tiebreak, the Filipinos are in 31st place, or six notches higher than their starting rank of 37th place.
A victory seals a top 30 finish for the country.
Ukraine battles Israel, while Russia-1 plays Spain in featured men’s matches to determine the champion. Ukraine is nursing a one-point lead over Russia-1 going into the final round.
In the women’s division, the Philippines faces No. 61 seed Brazil with Cheradee Chardine Camacho playing top board against WFM Juliana Terao.
Shecila Cua meets WFM Amanda Pereira, Rulp Ylem Jose tackles Vanessa Gasola and Jedara Docnea plays Ana Paula Oliveira.
They need to win over Brazil to duplicate, if not surpass, their 2008 Olympiad showing of a tie for 36th to 49th places.
Barcenilla and Salvador boosted the country’s roster of GMs to 13. They join the distinguished list that include Torre, the late Rosendo Balinas, Rogelio Antonio Jr., Bong Villamayor, Nelson Mariano, Mark Paragua, Laylo, So, Jayson Gonzales, Gomez and Joseph Sanchez.
Barcenilla earned his third and last GM result in the 2009 Copper State international chess championship where he collected seven points in 10 games.