PINAY  CHESSERS  KEEP  ROMP,  EDGE  SWISS  RIVALS
 

MANILA, MAY 25, 2006 (STAR) The Philippine womenís team continued to dish out big games as it trounced 33rd-ranked Switzerland, 2-1, Tuesday even as its menís squad continued to sputter after three rounds of play in the World Chess Olympiad at the Olympic Village in Turin, Italy.

WFM Sheerie Joy Lomibao and WIM Beverly Mendoza whipped WIM Gundula Heinatz and Anastassia Gavrilova, respectively, to hike the teamís output to 5.5 points for a share of 33rd place with 10 others, including fourth round opponent Kazakhstan, which downed Azerbaijan, 2-1.

Lithuania posted its third straight shutout win, blanking Latvia, 3-0, to seize the solo lead with 9 points while defending champion China and Russia were tied at second with 8.5 points.

Sherily Cua, the best Filipina performer with 1.5 points after two rounds, was stopped on her tracks by WGM Barbara Hund for the Swiss squadís lone point.

But while the RP ladies notched their second straight victory after routing Ireland, 3-0 in the second round, the menís squad suffered its second straight setback, losing to the United States, 1-5-2-5, and dropping to joint 38th with 7.5 points in a big group that includes Qatar, Slovakia, Belarus, Australia, Argentina, Macedonia, Denmark, Latvia, Albania and Andorra.

GM Eugene Torre, playing on his 19th consecutive Olympiad, salvaged a draw from a losing position in a marathon 95-move game against GM Alexander Onischuk in a brilliant escape that was the talk of the third round.

"Everybody has conceded the game to the US champ (Onischuk) but Torre proved them wrong," said team captain Sammy Estimo.

In contrast, GM Joey Antonio failed to translate a slight initiative into a winning line, enabling Hikaru Namakura to force a draw. GMs Mark Paragua and Gata Kamsky also halved the point on the top board.

But youthful Oliver Dimakiling, who won his first two games, succumbed to GM Varuzhan Akobian in 38 moves of Bogo Indian on the last board.

The RP menís team vows to bounce back against Colombia, toting 8 points, in the fourth round Wednesday.

"Colombia is our favorite customer and we expect to collect 3 points against them," added Estimo.

Meanwhile, Vladimir Kramnik led Russia to a 2.5-1.5 victory over Germany while China and Uzbekistan smashed Slovakia and Australia, respectively, 3.5-0.5, to share the lead with 10.5 points each. ó With report from Dante Navarro


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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