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Mark Paragua rules Battle of the Grandmasters

By Kristel Satumbaga

Striking while the iron is hot, New York-based Mark Paragua added another major victory to his growing list of triumphs as he topped the Battle of Grandmasters “Cong. Pichay Birthday Cup” held online over the weekend.

Mark Paragua last won the Battle of the Grandmasters eight years ago. (File Photo)

Mark Paragua last won the Battle of the Grandmasters eight years ago. (File Photo)

The 36-year-old Paragua overcame ageless GM Joey Antonio, 1.5-0.5, in the finale to claim the title after he last won eight years ago.

It was also his second big triumph after ruling the Philippine Bullet Championship early this month.

More so, Paragua has come closer to his goal of reclaiming his place to the national squad seeing action in the World Chess Olympiad reset to next year in Russia after the National Chess Federation of the Philippines announced it may reshuffle the team that was already formed as early as last year.

“It is always an honor for me to represent our country in the Olympiad,” said Paragua, the first Filipino to ever reach the 2600-rating plateau or super-GM status.

For his feat, Paragua took home P25,000 in the one-day meet that attracted 11 GMs and a WGM.

Paragua also attributed his recent conquest to luck.

In extreme time panic and in a hopelessly losing position against GM Richard Bitoon in the quarterfinals, Paragua got a reprieve as a mouse slip left the former unintentionally giving up a rook that allowed the latter to escape with the win.

It was a close call as he had only 1.2 seconds to go when he took the win.

He then beat another United States-based Filipino Oliver Barbosa in the semis, 1.5-0.5, before wrapping it up with a masterpiece over the 58-year-old Antonio.

“I just got very lucky,” said Paragua.

Another “lucky” finalist was Antonio, who toyed with the jaws of defeat before prevailing over GM Darwin Laylo in the round-of-16 and GM Julio Catalino Sadorra, the country’s highest rated woodpusher, in the quarters with both decided by the “Armageddon” tiebreaker.

“I didn’t expect it to make it this far because the field is very strong. I got lucky too,” said Antonio, who beat GM John Paul Gomez, 1.5-0.5, to barge into the finals.

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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