The Rise of Grandmaster Eugene Torre #2

Jul 15, 2007, 10:50 PM |

Eugene Torre wins (2002) Philippine National Championship

Eugene Torre shot to prominence in 1976 as a possible future title challenger after winning a strong 4-man tournament in Manila ahead of world champion Anatoly Karpov - thus becoming the first player to finish ahead of Karpov in a tournament since the latter became world champion. The high-point of his career came in the early 1980s when he was ranked world No.17; successfully going on to qualify to be a candidate for the world championship after tying for first with Lajos Portisch during the 1982 Toluca Interzonal.

After losing his quarter-final candidates match to Zoltan Ribli in 1983, Torre became disillusioned with chess and more or less went into semi-retirement. He went on to become a minor celebrity due to his daily one hour TV programme "Chess Today", and was once voted one of the ten sexiest sportsmen in the Philippines - all of which ultimately led to a cameo spot in a movie.

He became one of the few trusted confidantes of Bobby Fischer, who in turn made Torre his official second for his 1992 return match with Boris Spassky that took place in war torn Yugoslavia. Fischer also relied on Torre in 1996 when the wayward American genius launched "Fischer Random Chess" in Argentina. One anecdote during this period has it that when Torre and Fischer boarded a taxi in Buenos Aires, the driver immediately recognised Torre as a chess player. As both were about to leave the taxi, the driver, not knowing who the other distinguished passenger was, asked Torre: "Whatever happened to that crazy guy Fischer?"

Now on the comeback trail, Torre got off to a bad start in the 2002 Philippine National Championships in Makati with a score of 2/5. However Torre soon found his form of old with a string of impressive wins to once again take the crown with a final tally of 10.5/14 at the age of 51, thus, becoming the oldest winner of the championships.

The winning of the title now guarantees Torre top board in the forthcoming 2002 Bled Olympiad, as the Philippines always select the top six players from the National Championship to represent their country in the biennial team tournament. (

Torre breaks Chess Olympiad Record

Eugene Torre, Asia’s first GRANDMASTER, has broken new ground as a Philippine chess team member in the ongoing 37th World Chess Olympiad in Turin, Italy.

The 53-year old Torre joined the record books when he made his 19th consecutive appearance in the Chess Olympics and moves just one short of tying the all-time record for most appearances held by the legendary Lajos Portisch of Hungary.

Portisch achieved the feat between 1956 and 2000, while Torre has been to every Olympiad since 1970. On the other hand, Torre also surpassed the record of Paul Westerinen of Finland for most number of consecutive Olympiads played.

Torre spearheads the Philippine team in Turin for the three-week long Olympiad. The chess tournament is held every two years.

Torre first saw action in the Olympics at the age of 17 in 1970 in Siegen, Germany, playing board two behind the second Philippine International Master Renato Naranja.

Two years later, Torre assumed the top board in the Skopje Olympiad, a position he held until two years ago in Mallorca, Spain.

In an Olympic career spanning nearly four decades, Torre has compiled a record of 85 wins, 104 draws and 34 losses.

His 137 points is fourth in the all-time list of most points scored behind Portisch, Miguel Najdorf of Argentina and Svetozar Gligoric of Yugoslavia.

Third on the list of most matches played at 223, Torre is just eight matches shy of equaling the record held by Portisch.

Torre credits his durability to physical fitness and his insatiable appetite for the game.

"I will keep on playing as long as I remain useful to the team," said Torre who has fought some of the biggest names in the Olympiad: Garry Kasparov, Anatoly Karpov, Viswanathan Anand of India and reigning world champion Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria to name a few.

After 34 years of playing the top board, Torre is now on board two in deference to current No. 1 Mark Paragua, the first and only Filipino GM who has breached the elite 2600 ELO barrier.

"It’s time for the new breed of players to take over. I’m confident Mark is up to the challenge," said Torre.

GM Joey Antonio, the most experienced member next to Torre, is playing board three. He has not dropped a single match in the last two Olympiads.

Darwin Laylo, the reigning national champion, will be making his second straight Olympic stint, manning the fourth board.

FIDE Masters Oliver Dimakiling and Wesley So, the other survivors of the rigorous elimination matches, have made their Olympic debuts at board five and six, respectively.

At 12, So is one of the Olympiad’s youngest participants.

In 2004, the Philippines toppled former Olympic champions Hungary and Serbia Montenegro (formerly Yugoslavia) in the last two rounds to barge into the Magic 20.

The women’s team, handled by ex-Olympian Cesar Caturla, is made up of Woman International Master Sheerie Joy Lomibao and Beverly Mendoza, WNMs Catherine Perna and Sherily Cua. (


  • Asia's first Grandmaster at the age of 22
  • 2006 2nd San Marino International Chess Open, 7th place
  • 2005 5th Bangkok Chess Club Open, 2nd Place (7.5/9 lost in tiebreak to GM Ian Rogers)
  • 2005 SouthEast Asian Games, Bronze Medal (Men's Individual Rapid Chess)
  • 2005 SouthEast Asian Games, Silver Medal (Men's Standard Team Event)
  • 2002 Philippine National Championships, Champion
  • 1993 Asian Chess Team Championships, 3rd place in Board 1 (6.5 points/9)
  • 1986 Dubai, UAE Chess Olympiad, Bronze Medalist in Board 1 garnering 9.5 points/13 (7 wins, 5 draws, 1 loss)
  • 1983 Asian Chess Team Championships, 1st place in Board 1 (8.5 points/9)
  • 1980 La Valletta, Malta Chess Olympiad, Bronze Medalist in Board 1 scoring 11 points/14 (9 wins, 4 draws, 1 loss)
  • 1977 Asian Chess Team Championships, 1st place (6.0 points/7)
  • 1976 The Marlboro-Loyola Kings Challenge, Champion (becoming the first player to finish ahead of Anatoly Karpov since becoming world champion)
  • 1974 Nice, France Chess Olympiad, Silver Medalist in Board 1 (behind Anatoly Karpov) going undefeated in 19 matches with 9 wins and 10 draws for 14 points/19
  • 1970 Philippine Junior and Adult Champion
  • Once ranked as high as No. 17 in the world in the 1980s
  • Has appeared in the Chess Olympics for 19 consecutive times erasing the previous record of Heikki (Paul) Westerinen of Finland for most consecutive appearances but still a shy of the record 20 appearances held by Lajos Portisch of Hungary
  • played Board 2 for Team Philippines in the 1970 Chess Olympiad at Siegen, Germany behind International Master Renato Naranja
  • in the 1972 Skopje Olympiad, he assumed the top board (Board 1) for Team Philippines, a position he held until the 2004 Olympiad held at Mallorca, Spain (a total of 17 Olympiads, a world record)
  • played Top Board in the following Olympiads: Skopje 1972, Nice 1974 (where he got his GM title and led the Philippines to a then unprecedented 11th place finish), Haifa 1976, Buenos Aires, 1978, Malta 1980, Lucerne 1982, Thessaloniki 1984, Dubai 1986, Thessaloniki 1988 (where the Philippines recorded its best finish at 7th place), Novi Sad 1990, Manila 1992, Moscow 1994, Yerevan 1996, Elista 1998, Istanbul 2000, Bled 2002 and Calvia de Mallorca 2004
  • at the 2006 Olympiad at Turin, Italy, gave way to Super GM Mark Paragua on top board as he played Board 2 for only the second time in his entire Olympics career
  • after 19 consecutive Chess Olympiads, Torre has recorded 86 wins, 111 draws and 39 losses in 236 games for a total score of 141.5 points, fourth over-all in Olympiad history behind Lajos Portisch (176.5/260 games), Miguel Najdorf (145/222 games) and Svetozar Gligoric (142.5/223 games)