Paragua  captures title

June 15, 2020

GRANDMASTER Mark Paragua asserted his supremacy in local chess by ruling the 2020 Philippine Bullet Chess Championship at lichess.

Paragua, looking fit as a fiddle in his return to local chess competition, finished with 25.5 points out of a possible 30 to capture the title and the P30,000 top prize put up by the National Chess Federation of the Philippines .

So dominant was Paragua that he finished  4.5 points ahead of his closest pursuer, IM Paulo Bersamina in the premier online competition supported by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).

The 36-year-old Paragua, who migrated to the United States with his wife in search for a greener pasture a few years ago, defeated Bersamina, 2-0, in their much-awaited encounters in the middle rounds.

Already assured of the title with still two rounds left, Paragua lost to University of Santo Tomas standout  Samson Lim in the final round.

“I’m happy to win again, Sana magtuloy-tuloy na dahil gusto ko uli maglaro sa national team natin sa World Chess Olympiad at Asian Championships,” said the New York City-based Filipino champion fromMEycuayan City,Bulacan.

It was the fourth title in less than a week for Paragua, who also topped the United Queen Chess Club  SPEC and CA’s Life Arena charity tournament, the PBCC semifinal round and the 10th leg of the National Blitz Club Arena last Sunday.

Bersamina, the only player to win four MVP titles in the UAAP, settled for runner-up honor with 21 points and the P20,000 prize.

The biggest revelation of the tournament is Michael Concio, who turned only 15 last month.

Concio wound up a fighting third with 20 points, ahead of IM Daniel Quizon (18.5 points)  and Asian Para Games champion FM Sander Severino (18.5 points).

Another US-based campaigner, GM Rogelio Barcenilla, came in sixth  place with 17.5 points.

Completing the Top 10 finishers are IM Jan Emmanuel Garcia with 16 points; Joel Pimentel and GM Rogelio Antonio, Jr. with 15.5 points;  and Lim with 13 points.

The tournament was the brainchild of Pichay, who decided to organize big-time online chess tournaments to keep the players busy at the height of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19 pandemic last March..

“Deputy Speaker Pichay conceptualized this championship to show the world how chess can rise above the COVID pandemic,” said NCFP executive director Atty. Cliburn Anthony  Orbe.

“He (Pichay) backed his concept with his own money by sponsoring the prize fund for the grand finals. And as a gesture of support for our players affected economically by the pandemic, he also made the qualifying legs free of registration fees so that anybody can join,” dded Orbe.

The tournament was  also broadcasted live by popular Filipino YouTube vlogger IM Roderick Nava.

The broadcast had more than 10,000  views when it aired live, and a thousand more watched it on replay within 10 hours of the broadcast, according to Orbe.