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Banjo strikes as Philippines draws with Israel; Pinays fall

Joey Villar - The Philippine Star
Banjo strikes as Philippines draws with Israel; Pinays fall
Barcenilla punished GM Tamir Nabaty for his faulty sacrificial queenside attack with a devastating rook invasion that won a piece and the game in 64 moves of a King’s Indian duel on board two.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Grandmaster Banjo Barcenilla showed admirable grit in delivering a match-saving victory in a 2-2 upset draw by the Philippines with a heavily favored Israel in the sixth round Wednesday night of the 44th World Chess Olympiad in Chennai, India.

Barcenilla punished GM Tamir Nabaty for his faulty sacrificial queenside attack with a devastating rook invasion that won a piece and the game in 64 moves of a King’s Indian duel on board two.

GM Mark Paragua, who saved the day in the Filipinos’ shock 2.5-1.5 upset of Sweden in round five, tried again to squeeze out a win out of what looked like an equal position against GM Avital Burochovsky on board one but wound up splitting the point in 59 moves of their Four Knights showdown that sealed the standoff with the Israelis.

Those results erased a 1.5-.5 deficit following a draw by GM Darwin Laylo with grizzled Olympiad vet GM Ilya Smirin on board three and a crushing loss by International Master Paulo Bersamina to GM Evgeny Postny that was exacerbated by the Filipino’s poor opening play.

The draw kept the Filipinos within striking distance of the big guns as they shared 14th place with 10 other nations with nine match points in this 11-round, 12-day event that gives two points for a match victory and a point for a tie.

After a much-needed break yesterday, they play a mighty Poland side that is seeded fifth in tonight’s seventh round for a chance for the GM Eugene Torre-mentored Philippines to reclaim a spot in the Top 10.

“We’ll just fight and play on until the end for our country,” said Barcenilla, accompanied by wife Lilibeth, who is also an Olympiad veteran.

The Filipinas, meanwhile, received another mighty blow after a draw with the lower-ranked Ecuadorians, 2-2, that sent them spiralling down to a 13-nation logjam at 48th spot with seven points.

Woman FIDE Master Shania Mae Mendoza lost to WIM Anahi Ortiz Verdezoto on board two while WGM candidate Kylen Joy Mordido won on board four and WIMs Jan Jodilyn Fronda and Marie Antoinette San Diego drew on boards one and three, respectively.

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