KHANTY-Mansiysk, Russia – GM Wesley So put up a brave stand and drew with former world champion GM Veselin Topalov but the Philippines dropped another 1.5-2.5 decision to highly-rated Bulgaria in the eighth round of the 39th World Chess Olympiad. So, now one of the world’s top junior players with ELO of 2668, defended with his usual calm precision against the white-playing Topalov and claimed a morale victory with the draw achieved from the black side of the board after 52 moves of the Gruenfeld. Experts agreed that Topalov’s chances in the endgame are slightly better, but that So managed to equalize with some adept rook and bishop moves. In the final position, Topalov and So had a rook and three pawns each. The Filipino champion from Bacoor, Cavite, who is playing in only his third Olympiad since 2006 Turin and 2008 Dresden, also placed the Bulgarian ’s king on f6 under check twice already when the game was agreed drawn. “It’s a draw. Topalov has a slight edge, although it’s very difficult to exploit,” commented veteran chess journalist Ignacio Dee, who practically exhausted his mind analyzing the games shown live on the Internet. Topalov opened with the d4 and So countered with the solid system of the Exchange Gruenfeld until the 12th move when he steered the game out of the book line with Ne5 instead of the customary Qa5. The Bulgarian champion, who held the world title in 2005, managed to seize the initiative after 22. Rc7 but missed the right continuation and allowed the 16-year-old Filipino to initiate massive exchanges that included the queens on the 33rd move and bring about a position that offered little prospects. But even the hard-earned draw by So and the victory by Asia’s first GM Eugene Torre over IM Kiprian Berbatov on board four failed to save the day for the 37th- seeded Filipinos, who plummeted into a tie for 42nd to 66th places with only nine points on four wins, one draw and three losses. Torre, who is making a record 20th Olympiad appearance in 40 years, came away with the much-needed victory over the lower-rated Berbatov (ELO 2461) on board four. The 58-year-old Torre, who became Asia’s first GM in the 1974 Nice Olympiad, raised his personal record to 88 wins, 114 draws and 39 losses in 242 games. His total of 145 points spread over 20 Olympiads from 1970 to 2010 tied him with GM Miguel Najdorf for second most points behind only Hungarian GM Lajos Portisch ( 176.5 points). But the draw by So and the win by Torre proved not enough. The pair of heart-breaking losses by GMs John Paul Gomez and Darwin Laylo on boards two and three did not help the Filipinos’ cause. Gomez, who plays board two for the country in the absence of GM Rogelio Antonio, Jr,, went down to GM Ivan Cheparinov (ELO 2661) in only 29 moves of the English , while Laylo yielded to GM Aleksander Delchev (ELO 2623). Cheparinov unleashed a deadly combination against the lower-rated Gomez that led to a mate in one using a rook, knight and bishop. The loss, which followed a similar 1.5-2.5 setback to Spain in the second round and 1-3 loss to Belarus in the sixth round, left the Filipinos five full points behind solo leader Ukraine. Ukraine battled top seed Russia-1 to a fighting 2-2 draw to keep the solo lead with 14 points on six wins and two draws. Up next for the Filipinos is No. 69 Turkmenistan, which lost to India, 1-3. It was double black eye for the Philippines, which also lost in the women’s division. The 52 nd-seeded Filipinas were wiped out by Southeast Asian Games rival Vietnam, losing all four matches in their worst showing in the tough 11-round tournament so far. Dresden Olympiad top scorer Cheradee Chardine Camacho proved no match to WGM Hoang Thi Bao Tram on the top board. Also losing their matches were Catherine Perena to WIM Pham Le Thao Nguyen, Rulp Ylen Jose to WIM Nguyen Thi Mai Hung and Jedara Docena to WGM Nguyen Thi Thanh An. With the loss, the Filipinas remained with only eight points and fell several rungs below -- 49th to 69th places in the 115-team field. Overall, the Cesar Caturla-mentored Filipinas now trail top seed Russia-1, which routed India, 3.5-.5, to raise its score to eight wins for a perfect score of 16 points based on the match point-style 2-1-0 win-draw-loss scoring system. The Filipinas’ next assignment is No. 62 Bolivia, which drew with ICSC, 2-2. National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) president Prospero “Butch” Pichay lauded the Filipinos’ gallant stand against the Bulgarians, especially So’s draw with Topalov and Torre’s victory over Berbatov. Pichay, however, admitted that the Filipinas have a lot of work to do to catch up with the Vietnamese in the women’s division.