Janelle Mae Frayna is first PH Woman Chess Grandmaster


The Philippines now has its first ever Woman Chess Grandmaster in 20-year-old Janelle Mae Frayna.

Frayna drew with International Master Davaademberel Nomin-Erdene on board one Sunday night to clinch her third and last WGM result even as the Filipino women bowed to the Mongolians, 1.5-2.5, in the ninth round of the 42nd Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan.

The 20-year-old Frayna, a senior psychology candidate for cum laude honors at Far Eastern University, amassed the required 6.0 points on four wins, four draws and one loss according to GM Jayson Gonzales, the women’s team captain.

“I’m proud to announce that WIM (Woman International Master) Janelle Mae Frayna achieved the third and last result to become the first Woman Grandmaster from the Philippines,” GM Jayson Gonzales, the women’s skipper and Frayna’s personal trainer and coach at Far Eastern University, said in the press release.

Frayna’s opponents included 3 men’s Grandmasters (Georgia’s Nana Dzagnidze and India’s Dronavalli Harika), one with a men’s International Master title (Nomin Erdene), and two other Women International Masters (Sabrina Latreche of Algeria and Alejandra Guerrero Rodrigiez of Mexico).

Like Frayna, GM Eugene Torre is on course to re-writing history as he slew GM Diego Flores in the Filipinos’ 2-2 draw against Argentina.

The 64-year-old Torre now has an undefeated record of eight points on seven wins and two draws, the highest point so far by any individual player in the 11-round tournament.

But Torre is running fifth in the battle for the gold medal on board three, which will be determined by whoever ends up with the highest performance rating, behind a stellar cast that included Filipino GM Wesley So, who is now representing the United States.

Russian GM Ian Nepomniachtchi currently leads the way with 2887, followed by Hungarian GM Zoltan Almasi’s 2871, while French GM Laurent Fressinet is at No. 4 with 2857.

“Hopefully, Wesley and I could end up as board medallists and I’m also thinking of helping the team win matches,” said Torre, whose lone board medal came in the form of a silver in the 1974 Nice Olympiad where he eventually emerged Asia’s first ever GM.

Torre’s win plus Sadorra’s victory over GM Sandro Mareco on board one helped the Filipinos turn a 0-2 disadvantage following defeats by GM John Paul Gomez and IM Paulo Bersamina to GMs Federico Perez Ponsa and Alan Pichot on boards two and four, respectively.

The Filipinos, who have fallen far behind the leaders with 10 match points, will play Scotland in the round 10 while the Women’s team will face Italy.

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