Torre tops Belgium chess tournament

By Marlon Bernardino

ASIA'S first Grandmaster Eugene Torre posted back-to-back wins over Georgian GM Giorgi Bagaturov and Ukrainian GM Mihail Golubev in the last two rounds to emerge champion of the Filipino-dominated 15 de Open van Leuven chess championship Tuesday night in Leuven, Belgium.

GMs Joey Antonio and Bong Villamayor finished tied for second to fourth places with Russian Super GM Vladimir Epishin, while NM Oliver Barbosa shared fifth place in the 112-man tournament.

The 52-year-old Torre accumulated seven wins and two draws to finish with a total of 8 points in nine games and receive the top purse of 1,500 Euros.

"I am just happy to win this title. Thanks to the support of the First Gentleman Foundation and the Philippine Sports Commission," said Torre in an interview with Inquirer Sports.

Torre, back-to-back (2001-2002) Philippine Open champion, also beat Filip Bosmans, Frank Albert, David Houdart of Belgium, Ukrainian GM Alexander Goloshapov and Fide Master Stephen Berry of England.

The Quezon City-based Torre drew with Belgian IM Pieter Claesen and top seed Russian Super GM Vladimir Epishin.

"This is proof that our SEA Games-bound players are now in top condition for the Vietnam competition," said lawyer Sammy Estimo, secretary general of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines headed by lawyer Matias Defensor.

Completing the Vietnam-bound SEAG team are IMs Mark Paragua, Ronald Dableo and Jayson Gonzales.

The 41-year-old Antonio, a member of the Army Special Services and being supported by Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Narciso Abaya, and the 38-year-old Villamayor, Airman 2nd class under Brigadier General Jaime Viernes, wound up with 7 points each in the company of Epishen.

"I'm satisfied with our performance, at least kami-kami halos ang nanalo (we almost pulled off a sweep)," said Antonio, fresh from topping the recently Bangkok Open in Pattaya.


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