Just days after the Philippines fell to it's "worst" place finish in the chess olympiad, both writers and fans alike started to voice out their feelings and opinions on what went wrong. Emotions are high. Some started pointing fingers on who's really to blame for the setback of our RP Men's team. Many agree that it is the NCFP and it's leaders themselves who should be accountable for everything while many claims that chess players in the Philippines are pampered by chess fans and is a far cry from the players of old that used to be the number one chess nation in Asia, a powerhouse chess nation so good that it actually placed 7th over all in 1988 Thessaloniki Olympiad. We are proud nation. It sounds inspiring. But look around us and we will see that things have changed all around us since then. Study history. Nothing is permanent. What goes up must come down. Truth is, no domination last forever. Even the once mighty Roman Empire has to collapse in the advent of other emerging superpower of the day. There is nothing wrong of being proud of our glorious past and it hurts a lot to remember of beautiful things gone by. But that's the reality and reality really hurts.
Fact is, despite landing in the fiftieth place, the Philippines still placed fourth over all in Asian ranking and slightly ahead of Vietnam who finished in 52 place and the country where Magnus Carlsen was born, Norway, who finished in 51st position. Just look around and you'll be enlighten. Breaks of game plays a major part too.
Here's my take. Final round is very crucial. Remember that going into the final round against the 48th seed Estonia, our men's team is placed 31st and is in very very good position to improve it. I was thinking. What if Richard Bitoon never lost his final game? Say the team won that one by a point, say courtesy of Bitoon, which he really can. The Philippines may even landed among the top 25 and that will going to be one of our best finish since Thessaloniki Olympiad! If that happens, are we going to see people blaming each other for finishing the olympiad above expectations? Are we going to clamor for a change? For new leadership? Surely not. But you see folks, Bitoon, very unfortunate, lost his final game and the team plummeted to 50th place. Even a draw would probably put us among the top 30, still, one of our best finish since Thessaloniki! Again, are we going to clamor for the so called change?
You see folks, we lost by a hairline, probably caused by last minute mental lapses. If there's someone who should be blame here, it is no other than Richard Bitoon himself because that one loss caused a lot. Lucky for me, I do not blame the guy. There's so much pressure on him. He's a last minute replacement for Antonio and the only IM in the team and we look after our RP team as heroes not deserving of any single criticism. Another thing, our men's team rarely faced a nation well above seeded than us and perhaps, a little bit more of a push for the team would give a different result.
As of today, we are the number one pool producing players in the planet (Americans used to be), same as professional boxing. We are the best in this sports. But we are not going to stay there for long. Again, history will show us. Unfortunately, and let's face fact, chess is not as marketable as other exciting sports as pool and boxing. Financing a chess program is a risk. That is quite understandable. But again, there is always great ideas to convinced more sponsors that chess can bring money too if they invest on this mental sport.
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