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Torre enters Hall of Fame

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EUGENE Torre becomes the first Filipino to be inducted into the World Chess Hall of Fame. / PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF EUGENE TORRE/FB

Filipino chess legend Eugene Torre will be inducted into the World Chess Hall of Fame on 19 October during the closing ceremonies of the United States Chess Championships in St. Louis, Missouri.

Torre, who will turn 70 in November, will personally receive the award accompanied by his wife Marilyn.

In an e-mail, Emily Allred of the World Chess Hall of Fame (HOF) said the induction is tentatively set at The Muny, an outdoor theater with event spaces.

“I am humbled and grateful for the great honor that HOF and FIDE (International Chess Federation) have bestowed on me,” Torre said.

“I am doubly elated because I am being recognized in an endeavor I believed in and loved to do. I would like to share this immense recognition to all who helped me realized my dream, to the Filipino people and to all chess lovers. From the bottom of my heart, thank you very much.”

Torre was among three players nominated by FIDE. The others are Polish-Argentine Grandmaster Miguel Najdorf and GM Judit Polgar of Hungary.

They were chosen by the FIDE historical committee composed of chairman Willy Iclicki of Belgium, Andrzej Filipowicz of Poland, Berik Balgabaev of Kazakhstan, and Casto Abundo.

Their nominations were approved by the FIDE Council.

Torre holds the record of most Chess Olympiad appearances — 25 from 1970 to 2018, including 23 as a player.

He won the silver inboard one behind then world champion Anatoly Karpov in the 1974 Nice Olympiad and three bronze medals.

Torre considers his 2016 bronze medal as his strongest performance at board one, the same year GM Wesley So took the gold playing for the United States.

“I had a performance rating of over 2800 on nine wins and two draws,” recalled Torre who acted as coach in 2008 and 2018.

Not including the last two Olympiads, Torre played 259 matches, winning 94, drawing 122, and losing 43 for a success rate of 59.8 percent.

He ranks second only to Lajos Portisch of Hungary in games played in the Olympiad.

Torre, who reached a peak rating of 2580 and went as high as 17th in the world rankings, played on the top board during the Philippines’ best finish in the Olympiad — seventh in Thessaloniki, Greece in 1988.

He shared first place with Portisch in the 1982 Toluca Interzonal, advancing him to the Candidate Matches for the 1984 world championship.

But Torre lost to Zoltan Ribli, 6-4, in the quarterfinals.

Among the thousands of games he played, Torre considers his two victories over then world champion Anatoly Karpov of the Soviet Union as his most memorable.

“At that time, Tolya (Karpov’s nickname) was invincible and rarely lost a match,” said Torre, who first defeated the Russian legend in 1976 and repeated in 1984.

The World Chess Hall of Fame was established in 1984 in St. Louis, Missouri, but it was only in 2001 when it inducted the first five players nominated by FIDE: Jose Raul Capablanca, Robert Fischer, Emmanuel Lasker, Paul Morphy, and Wilhem Steinitz.

Since 2001, there have been 37 names included in the list, including former Chinese world women’s champion Xie Jun, Akiba Rubinstein and Mark Taimanov in 2019.

Among the legends in the list are Mikhail Botvinnik, Tigran Petrosian, Vasily Smyslov, Boris Spassky, Mikhail Tal, Alexander Alekhine, Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov.

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