US-BASED Grandmaster Julio Catalino Sadorra and Woman International Master Janelle Mae Frayna will spearhead the country’s campaign in the 42nd World Chess Olympiad on Sept. 1 to 14 in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Sadorra, 29, who has the highest Elo rating among the Filipino team members at 2538, is fresh from topping the Open division of the recent 15th Manhattan Open, besting a field of 58, while Frayna finished fourth overall in the recent World Junior Championships in Orissa, India.

Aside from Sadorra, who will man Board 1, the other men’s team members are GMs John Paul Gomez, Eugene Torre, Rogelio Barcenilla Jr., also based in the US, and International Master Paulo Bersamina, who will serve as alternate.

Joining Frayna, who has an Elo rating of 2992, in the women’s squad are fellow WIMs Jan Jadilyn Fronda and Catherine Perena Secopito and WNM Christy Lamiel Bernales.

Conspicuously absent from the men’s squad is veteran GM Joey Antonio, who begged off to give way to younger players, according to National Chess Federation vice president Atty. Ruel Canobas, the national team manager for the second straight time in the Olympiad.

“We would like to commend Joey for giving up his slot. But he will be competing in the World Masters, an individual tournament, instead,” Canobas said.

“I don’t want to make any forecasts; I just want them to take their best shot and do their best,” Canobas added.

The men’s team is bidding to improve on the 46th place finish of another national team in the 2014 Olympiad while the women’s squad is out to improve on the 64th place finish of another team two years ago. Both team are set to leave this Wednesday.

“The team is in high spirits, and even Ino (Sadorra) and Banjo (Barcenilla) have been updating us on their training in the US,” said Torre, the team’s elder statesman at 64 who will be making a record 23rd appearance in the Olympiad as a player.

The only time that Asia’s first grandmaster missed suiting up for the country in the blue-ribbon team chess event as a player was he when coached the national team in the 2008 edition in Dresden, Germany.

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