Chessers cop 3 golds, boost PH to 12th spot in 4th Asian Para Games

October 26, 2023, 6:25 pm

<p>National chess player Menandro Redor<em> (Contributed photo)</em></p>

National chess player Menandro Redor (Contributed photo)

HANGZHOU – Bannered by the solid play of Menandro Redor, the national para chess players finished with three gold, two silver, and two bronze medals in the standard event to boost the Philippines to 12th overall in the standings midway through the 4th Hangzhou Asian Para Games here Thursday.

In his second Asian Para Games, Redor held Turkmen top seed Atabayev Aygdogdy to a draw in the seventh and final round, anchoring the men’s squad to a sweep of the B2-B3 standard event to emerge as the country’s first double gold medalist in the continental sportsfest.

Redor, who has less than 10 percent vision in both eyes, actually wound up tied for first with identical 5.5 points with Iranian Amir Rabbi Khorasgani, but took the gold through the tiebreaker for having played stronger players through the seven-round series.

Armand Subaste was the next best local chesser with four points after drawing Tajikistan’s Suhrob Hamdamov as the Philippine squad, which includes Darry Bernardo, finished with 9.5 points in clinching the team gold in the stint supported by the Philippine Sports Commission.

Atty. Cheyzer Crystal Mendoza added the third gold in chess despite losing to Mongolia’s Khisigbayar Migjee in the last round of the women’s individual standard PI event with a final 5.5 points, the same output as Indonesia’s Yuni, who beat compatriot Lilis Herna Yulia in the other match.

Mendoza, however, took the mint with the winner-over-the-other rule after beating the top Indon in the previous rounds.

Their accomplishments softened somewhat the setback suffered by the Nationals in the men’s PI event where they were dethroned in both the team and individual events by Indonesia following the setback of FIDE Master Sander Severino to veteran No. 1 Tirto in the final round.

Severino, who led the squad in sweeping both events in the 2018 Jakarta edition, was relegated to the individual bronze medal while Henry Roger Lopez copped the silver behind Tirto following his final-round win over Mongolian Sundui Sonom.

A fourth gold was in the offing later in the day with Ernie Gawilan aiming to retain the men’s 100-meter backstroke S7 title at the HOC Aquatic Arena.

“We were actually eyeing six golds entering today’s round but the strategy and the breaks didn’t go our way yesterday,” said national para chess coach James Infiesto. “Luckily, we won half our goals today.”

“Actually, we are still on target. Puwede pa siyang madagdagan (We can still win more),” stressed Infiesto with the first two rounds of the rapid event set to start Thursday afternoon, adding “the rapid game is one of our forte since we play it often back in our country.”

While elated over his feat, Medor, 38, said “actually it was 50-50 going into the final round. Mahirap din ang pinagdaanan ko dahil malalakas lahat ng nakalaban ko (It’s tough for me because all my opponents are strong).”

A winner of one gold, two silvers, and one bronze in Jakarta five years ago, the chesser said he hoped to continue more to the country’s output with the rapid event coming up.

On the other hand, Mendoza said she felt “bittersweet” about her gold in her Asian Para Games debut, especially after she felt she had a winnable match against the Mongolian despite playing black pieces.

“I was ahead but made a blunder in the 28th move that led to the loss. So this gold is bittersweet because I felt I let my team down,” she explained. “Had I won, we could have had the team silver at the very least.

“But we have to manage our emotions since we still have the rapid event. Bawal manggigil (Don’t push too hard).”

After wallowing in 20th place, the Philippines rose to 12th overall with four gold, three silver and four bronze medals in the 44-nation meet and among the 25 countries that have won a medal so far.

In other sports, the Pilipinas Warriors finally scored their first win with a 54-51 decision over Kuwait to wind up in ninth place out of 10 countries at the Hangzhou Olympic Center Gymnasium.

National para cyclists Nikko Peralta and Arthus Bucay C4-C5 time trial, bowing out of the running in checking in fifth (26:25.31) and 10th (28:24.04), respectively. (PNA/PR)