By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
The Philippines topped its group elims and advanced to the finals of the first FIDE Intercontinental Online Chess Championship for Prisoners Wednesday.
The country, represented by five players from the General Santos City Jail, ended up tied for first with Mongolia with eight match points apiece in Group 1 but the former won via tiebreak, 15.5-14.
Both the Filipinos and Mongolians barged into the finals Thursday.
The country is currently in the first group along with Mongolia, Georgia 1, Russia 1, Palestine and Germany with the other group comprising Croatia, Argentina, Zimbabwe, USA-Chicago, England and North Macedonia.
The top two of each group plays for the crown on the same day.
The Philippines, coached by Jail Officer 1 Cedrix Cabangal and Thailand-based Filipino Master Winston Silva, advanced after splitting the point with Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan, 2-2, and routing Australia, 4-0, Armenia, 4-0 and United Arab Emirates, 3.5-.5.
Upon learning of the tournament, Cabangal organized a qualifying tournament for General Santos City Prison inmates that drew 22 participants with the top five claiming slots to the team.