Eugenio Torre also known as “Eugene” became the first Asian Chess Grandmaster at only 22 years old. He was qualified for the title of Grandmaster by winning the bronze medal in the Chess Olympiad in Nice, France. He is considered as the greatest Filipino chess player for representing the Philippines in the World Chess Olympiad for a record of 23 times and paving the way for upcoming chess players.
Eugene Torre shot to prominence started in 1976 when three grand masters traveled to Manila, Philippines to participate in Marlboro-Loyola Kings Challenge namely Anatoly Karpov from Soviet Union, Ljubomir Ljubojević from Yugoslavia, and Walter Browne from the United States. He was invited to compete with three grand masters for a double-round robin event where he defeated the world champion Anatoly Karpov and earned a first place in the event. This marked the first time Karpov was defeated after being named as a world champion.
Eugene dominated first the Asian chess scene before jumping in the world stages. He took part in in six Asian Chess Team Championships (1977, 1979, 1981, 1983, 1986, 1993) and won 4 consecutive gold medals from 1977-1983. He also competed for Asian Cities Chess Championships in 2002 where his team captured the Gold and in 2004 winning the Bronze.
Torre also began conquering the World Chess Olympiad, representing the Philippines for four decades since 1970. He played for the top board for his team in every Olympiad between 1972 and 2004 inclusive, and leading the Philippine team to 7th place at the 1988 Thessaloniki Olympiad. He gathered a total of 4 bronze medals in his Chess Olympiad career.
In the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou, China last 2010, Eugene Torre with the helped of his team consisting of Wesley So, Rogelio Antonio, John Paul Gomez, and Darwin Laylo defeated the Indian team in the semifinals to secure the Silver medal.
His fame in the world of Chess brought him closer with Bobby Fischer. He accompanied Fischer and his team to a rematch with Boris Spassky in Yugoslavia last 1992 and also involved when Fischer Random Chess was launched in 1996.
Notable Awards and Achievements
- First Asian Grandmaster at the age of 22
- 1974 Chess Olympiad – Bronze Medalist
- 1977 Asian Chess Team Championship – Gold Medalist
- 1979 Asian Chess Team Championship – Gold Medalist
- 1981 Asian Chess Team Championship – Gold Medalist
- 1983 Asian Chess Team Championship – Gold Medalist
- 2010 Asian Games for Men’s Team – Silver Medalist
- 2002 Philippine National Champion
- 2005 Southeast Asian Games – Silver Medalist (Men’s Standard Team Event)
- 2005 Southeast Asian Games – Bronze Medalist (Men’s Individual Rapid Chess)
- 2019 Southeast Asian Games – Gold Medalist (Men’s Chess Team Problem Solving)
- Ranked as high as No. 20 in the world in January 1983
- Participated in 23 Chess Olympiads for the Philippines and holds the distinction of having played the most games in the history of the Olympiad with 270.
- Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2017 PSA Annual Awards
It’s a wrap
Eugene Torre paved the way for all the Asians to compete internationally and be a consistent participant in the World Chess Olympiad. He accompanied young chess prodigies from the Philippines and take our talents in the world stage. He might not have a single digit peak ranking in Chess, but for us Filipinos when we think about Chess, Eugene Torre comes first into our minds. And for that, Eugene Torre rightfully belongs as one of the legends of Philippine Sports History.