Just before this year's Olympiad, National Chess Federation of the Philippines supremo "Butch" Pichay told journos, "This is a strong [men's] team...We’re hoping to barge in the Top 20 to 25th place".
That didn't happen. The Pinoy men finished 50th overall, apparently their worst ever finish in an Olympiad.
Expectedly the pundits have been at it since that last round in Khanty-Mansiysk when Estonia narrowly defeated the Philippines 2.5 - 1.5 points. There are calls for this or that selection process, even a demand to privatise the NCFP!
So, who to blame for the RP men's suboptimal performance?
If you read this GMA News report on that eleventh round result, the answer was pretty clear: none other than IM Richard Bitoon. My fellow Cebuano, the GMA said, was a "goat". Ouch!
But it's really unfair. As a matter of fact, the entire RP men's team underperformed. The legendary Torre, for example, mixed his wins with draws against weaker opposition, including against one so-called "candidate master".
Also worth noting are the outstanding results of other countries. Take Zambia, yes Zambia! Two years ago this African team was in 117th position. This year they jumped all the way to 47th! Uruguay, too, improved by an almost similar distance. All up I counted about 10 teams that broke into this year's Top 50.
So, who to blame for the RP men's suboptimal performance? All of them, the players. Well, at least they finished above Australia. And to me, that's always important.