Friday, November 28, 2008


Frank “Boy” Pestaño

THE 38th Olympiad took place from Nov. 12th to 25th in Dresden, Saxony, Germany. One hundred and 56 from 152 nations participated including all the top players except world champion Viswanathan Anand of India.

Armenia defeated China to capture the gold and retain its title, while Israel beat the Netherlands to take the silver with the same results of 2.5-1.5. The biggest story were the Americans who demolished the Ukrainian Super GMs with an impressive 3.5-0.5 destruction. The USA thus grabbed the bronze medal despite being seeded 10th at the start.

The favorites Russia, Ukraine and China who were seeded first to third at the start missed out.

In the women’s section, Ukraine and Georgia equally finished first with 18 match points, with Ceorgia taking the gold. Russia and China, who were expected to dominate the women section, did not win a medal. Our women’s team, initially seeded 51st won its last game 4-0 vs. Mexico to finish a respectable 48th place.

Although we won our last game against a strong Argentina team, 2.5-1.5, the men’s team had a sorry 46th place finish with earlier losses vs. China, Netherlands, Spain and the Czech Reoublic.

However, the big stories are John Paul Gomez, who got a 20-game GM norm in this Olympiad to become our ninth and newest GM and Cheradee Camacho getting a Women International Master (WIM) title.

Gomez scored an impressive five wins, five draws and one loss to score 7.5/11 points while Camacho, only 14, had seven wins, two draws and only one loss for a sensational 8/10.

Here is a reaction from one of my readers. Although it was sent before the tournament finished, it is a reflection of most of the sentiments of our chess players.

“I think it’s still a bit premature for me to comment on the performance of our men’s chess team to the Dresden Olympiad as there are still a few more rounds to go as of this writing. However, I’m pretty sure that it does not escape most chess-loving people’s attention that we did not send our best players, except for Wesley So.

If Russia, which has probably more than a hundred strong players to choose from, sent only their best players, then I don’t see a reason why we shouldn’t. Other countries, like Armenia, Ukraine, China, USA, Bulgaria, even Vietnam, also sent only their best.

Our method of selecting the composition of our team based on a tournament only among local players should probably be looked into. It should be based on performance in international competitions preceding the Olympiad. Or if not, select only the players who have extensive experiences in the Olympiad and other international
tournaments and who have high ELO ratings. A team composed of So, Eugene Torre, Rogelio Antonio, Mark Paragua plus another strong and experienced player (not Bong Villamayor, which I have predicted to be the weakest player in our team) would have probably performed better.

The Olympiad is only for the best. I’m sure a lot of people will agree with me.”— Joel Dihayco, Lapu-Lapu City.

Here is a comment from the pinoychess.informe website: “E. Torre, Asia’s first grandmaster, was reduced to begging to be included in the team but still was ignored. He
was not given the respect he fully deserves.”

Another one “thinks that it was a wrong judgment more than anything else. I for one, believes that we could have sent a stronger team had we sent Torre to the Olympiad.”

I agree entirely that the main reason of our dismal performance is the absence of Eugene. However, it is not the fault of the NCFP or Pichay but Eugene for not participating in the eliminations, in which he could have easily qualified.


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