WORLD  CHESS:  RP  WOMEN'S  TEAM  SHUTS  OUT IRELAND
 
MANILA, MAY 24, 2006 (STAR) Stung by its setback to fancied Germany in the World Chess Olympiad opener, a resilient Philippine womenís squad sprang back with a 3-0 rout over Ireland to somehow make up for the menís teamís shock 2-2 draw against unfancied Luxembourg in the second round of the event at the Olympic Village in Turin, Italy Monday.

Sherily Cua, who saved the day for the RP ladies with a draw in the countryís 0.5-2.5 loss Sunday, whipped Deborah Quinn with the black pieces to lead the teamís shutout win over the Irish squad. Sheerie Joy Lomibao atoned for her earlier setback by trouncing Suzanne Connolly on the top board while WIM Beverly Mendoza subbed for Catherine Perena and whipped Poornima Menon.

"This team can really hold its own against the top teams here. Iím sure they can score upsets in the future rounds," said Sammy Estimo, skipper of the menís squad. "Matatapang sila. They donít care who their opponents are."

Their mettle will be put to test as the Filipina chessers, ranked 60th in a field of 106, go up against 32nd-seed Switzerland in the third round of the championship which also drew 146 countries in the centerpiece menís division.

The romp enabled the RP ladies to join 10 others in 38th place with 3.5 points with Lomibao, Cua and Mendoza hoping to sustain their momentum as they take on Swiss bets WIM Gundula Heinatz, WGM Barbara Hund and Anastassia Gavrilova, respectively.

Defending champion China paces the field with 6 points.

Meantime, the 35th-ranked menís squad of GM Mark Paragua, Darwin Layo and FMs Oliver Dimakiling and Wesley So failed to live up to expectation and settled for a draw against Luxembourg, listed No. 63 but cashed in on its experience to hold off the youthful RP squad.

Dimakiling posted his second straight win, beating IM Fred Berend and emerging as the lone Filipino to come up with a win against a team they were expected to dominate.

Paragua debuted on board 1 with a draw with fellow GM Alberto David but Laylo bowed to IM Mieczyslaw Bakalarz on the second board.

The 12-year-old So also halved the point with FM Serve Brittner as the Philippines hiked its output to 6 points and slid to joint 32nd in a field paced by powerhouse Russia with 8 points.

"The inexperience of our young players prevailed but its okay, there are still 11 rounds left," said Estimo, adding breaks did go RP wayís either as So blew a winning game and Laylo lost what seemed to be a won match.

Still, Estimo remained confident of his wards, who will come in semi full force when they collide with seventh ranked the United States in the third round Tuesday.

"Against US, we will be fielding in a semi full force team," said Estimo, referring to Torre and Antonio, who will join Paragua and Dimakiling to man the middle boards against the Americans.

Paragua holds the white pieces against former child prodigy Gata Kamsky while Torre, out in the first two rounds, plays for the first time on his 19th straight Olympiad against fellow GM Alexander Onischuk. Antonio, who led the teamís 4-0 romp over Mauritius in the first round, takes on GM Hikaru Nakamura.

"Eugene has prepared well this year because his future depends on this Olympiad, his 19th straight," said Estimo. "It will be an interesting match with the US because our pat matches with them have always been close."

Poland, Greece, Serbia & Montenegro and Germany had 7.5 points each while The Netherlands and defending champion Ukraine share sixth place with seven others with identical seven points.

China paces the womenís side with 6 points.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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