By Cedelf P. Tupas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:49:00 07/04/2008
MANILA, Philippines–The National Chess Federation OF the Philippines’ rejection of Grandmaster Eugene Torre’s appeal for an outright inclusion in the RP chess Olympiad-bound squad could also spell the end of the Filipino chess luminary’s attempt to surpass the appearance record in the prestigious tournament.
Torre has played in 19 consecutive Olympiads and his participation in this year’s tournament in Dresden, Germany could have put him in a tie of with Hungary legend Lajos Portisch, who has a record 20 appearances.
“At the moment, I can see myself for two more Olympiads, which is enough to achieve a record of 21 appearances,” the 56-year-old Torre, who manned the top board for the Philippines in the Olympiad for a record 17 times, said in his letter to National Chess Federation president Prospero Pichay.
“Considering my age, it is my hope that the NCFP spares me from the rigors of a selection tournament and extend its support for this rare opportunity,” Torre said, noting that he has kept his ELO above 2500 for the past three decades.
The NCFP is currently holding the Olympiad qualifier at the Mandaluyong City Hall with Torre and fellow GM Joey Antonio among the notable absentees. GM Bong Villamayor and IM John Paul Gomez currently share the lead in that event.
Former NCFP officer Sammy Estimo said Antonio declined to join the qualifiers because of the event’s “killer” format.
Estimo, who captained the Philippines in the past three Olympiads in Slovenia (2002), Spain (2004) and Italy (2006), said that the qualifier has become “torturous” to the point that one player has withdrawn because of illness. Estimo did not name the player.