The Philippines dealt regional rival Vietnam a vengeful 3-1 victory in the 10th and penultimate round Monday night to move on the verge of carving its best ever performance in the World Chess Olympiad in Chennai, India.
Woman Grandmaster Janelle Mae Frayna and Woman International Masters Marie Antoinette San Diego and Kylen Joy Mordido came through with masterful wins on boards one, three and four, respectively, to seal the upset win.
Of the four, only WIM Jan Jodilyn Fronda suffered the loss—a stinging result to WGM Nguyen Thi Ma Hung on the second board.
But it was hardly felt as the Filipinas, who are backed by the Philippine Sports Commission, won their games in the other boards that sealed the win and a spot at 22nd place with 10 other countries with 13 match points.
The country was clashing with 14th pick Cuba in the final round at press time and a triumph would seal the former its best finish in the biennial meet since placing 22nd in Thessaloniki, Greece in 1988 when powerhouse countries Soviet Union and Yugoslavia were still one countries and 26th in Turin, Italy in 2006 when the two nations dissolved into multiple republics.
The Filipinas had also surpassed its 67th place effort in the last over-the-board edition of the biennial tournament in Batumi, Georgia four years back regardless of the results of their last match.
Meanwhile, the Filipinos routed the Guatemalans, 4-0, to move up to an 18-nation tie at 41st spot with 12 points.
If the country could beat fancied Norway, a team spearheaded by reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen, in the final round, it would improve on a 39th-place performance the last time.