By ABS-CBNnews.com and U.S. News Agency / Asian
Asia’s first Grand Master (GM) Eugene Torre suffered a personal loss but will still spearhead the country’s campaign in the 40th FIDE World Chess Olympiad, which kicks off Tuesday at the WOW Convention Center in Istanbul, Turkey.
Torre’s mother passed away at the eve of his departure but he confirmed that he will still make the trip to Turkey.
“Yes, tuloy ako sa Olympiad,” said the 60-year-old Torre, who will be making a record 21st appearance in the event.
National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) chairman and president Prospero “Butch” Pichay Jr. commended Torre for his dedication.
“Bilib kami kay Eugene, ‘yung pagmamahal niya sa bayan at sa larong chess, talagang nandoon,” he said. “Akala nga namin ni (NCFP secretary-general) Mayor Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino Jr. ay hahabol na lang si Eugene, kasi acceptable naman talaga.”
Doña Vicenta Oliveros Torre died last Saturday at the age of 97.
“Sabi ko kay Eugene, kami na bahala at mag-ayos na siya ng mga gamit. Saka darating din ang mga kapatid namin galing sa Amerika,” said Carmen, one of Torre’s sisters.
Carson Chess Club adviser Oscar Sibal, a close friend of Torre, said in a separate interview: “Sa tingin ko, gusto din talaga ng nanay ni GM Eugene na mag-laro siya sa Olympiad.”
Besides Eugene and Carmen, Doña Vicenta is survived by her other children Jesus, Jorge, Linda, Aurora, Elizabeth and Felipe. Her remains will lie in state at the Loyola Park Memorial Chapel in Marikina City, where internment will also take place on September 1.
Meanwhile, the NCFP is optimistic that a top 15-20 finish is possible at this year’s Chess Olympiad. Pichay expressed his confidence that the Philippines can improve its standing this year.
“The Philippine team has always been a formidable team in the recent Olympiad stagings. This year’s line-up is equally formidable,” Pichay said.
This year’s line-up will see GM Torre on Board Four, with GMs Wesley So, Oliver Barbosa, and Mark Paragua on Boards One, Two and Three, respectively. GM-candidate Oliver Dimakiling will be on Board Five.
Torre, Barbosa, Paragua, Dimakiling along with head coach and NCFP executive director GM Jayson Gonzales left the country last Sunday.
With them were the Philippine women’s team, composed of International Master Catherine Perena, Fide Master Rulp Ylem Jose, and National Masters Jannelle Mae Frayna, Jedara Docena and Jan Jodilyn Fronda.
Pichay and Tolentino will go to Istanbul on September 2, while So will take a flight straight to Istanbul from Missouri.
The Philippine chess team’s campaign is supported by the Philippine Sports Commission and the Philippine Olympic Committee.
The men’s team is out to improve its worst-ever 50th place finish in 2010, while the women’s team is aiming to surpass their 44th place finish as well. By Marlon Bernardino