Grandmaster Eugene Torre will make a record 23rd stint in the Chess Olympiad which unfolds next week in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Torre, 64, was among those named by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) to represent the country in the 11-round team tournament starting on Sept. 2.
After making his Olympic debut in 1970, Torre has been to every edition of the biennial event except in 2008 when he was relegated to coaching the men’s squad.
“I enjoy playing against players good enough to be my grandsons,” said Torre. “Chess is my passion.”
Torre, who manned the top board from 1972 to 2004, has played 259 games, winning 94, drawing 122 and losing 43 for an impressive success rate of 59.8 percent.
In his last outing, Torre posted a record of three wins against one loss and five draws at board three.
He won the silver on the top board in 1974 in Nice, France where he became the first grandmaster from Asia. He also has two individual bronze medals.
At board three, Torre is expected to give the team the needed stability in the lower boards.
For the second straight year, GM Catalino Sadorra will play the top board. He made his debut in 2014 in Tromso with a record of four wins against two losses and five draws.
Rounding out the team are GM John Paul Gomez at board 2, GM Rogelio Barcenilla at board 4 and International Master Paolo Bersamina who serves as the team alternate.
The Filipinos are hoping to improve on their 46th place in Tromso where they tallied five wins against three defeats and three losses.
The US-based Barcenilla will play in his fourth Olympiad. He made his debut in 1988 in Thessaloniki, Greece where the Filipinos made their best finish of seventh place. He last played in 1996 in Yerevan, Armenia posting 8 points on six wins against two losses and four draws.
Also making his fourth straight Olympic stint is Gomez who first saw action in 2008. He has so far played 31 games, winning 11, drawing 14 and losing 6.
Conspicuously missing from the squad is GM Joey Antonio who opted to compete in Malaysia.
Antonio is also preparing for the World Seniors championships set in November in the Czech Republic.
Meanwhile, the women’s team is composed of WIM Janelle Mae Frayna, WIM Jan Jodilyn Fronda, WNM Cristy Lamiel Bernales, WFM Shanai Mae Mendoza and WIM Catherine Perena Secopito.
James Infiesto has been named the men’s team captain while GM Jayson Gonzales will handle the women’s squad.
Heading the delegation are former Rep. Neri Colmenares and lawyer Ruel Canobas.
The tournament will be played at the 25,000-seat Crystal Hall with perennial champion Russia listed as the top seed.
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– GM Susan Polgar