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Sports

Paragua stuns world number 18

Joey Villar - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Grandmaster Mark Paragua went for the big fish and caught one Friday against heavily favored Poland in the 44th World Chess Olympiad in Chennai, India.

In one of the best, if not the best, performances of his life, Paragua slew reigning World Cup champion andworld No. 18 Jan-Krzysztof Duda with a masterful 36-move win in their razor-sharp Sicilian Najdorf duel to carry the Filipinos to a stunning 2-2 draw.

GM Banjo Barcenilla bucked health issues to split the point with GM Kacper Piorun in 36 moves of an English duel on board two despite having a slight positional edge while GM John Paul Gomez drew his game on board three that completed their escape act.

GM Darwin Laylo succumbed to pressure due to deep time trouble and fell to GM Mateusz Bartel on board four as the Filipinos faced an early 1.5-.5 deficit.

Fortunately, Paragua and Barcenilla reprised their roles and saved the day for the Filipinos once more.

Paragua struck with the win that sealed the 2.5-1.5 win over fancied Sweden in the fifth round last Tuesday while Barcenilla pulled off the massive triumph in sealing a 2-2 draw with a favored Israel the following day.

The miraculous result propelled the country, which is being backed by the Philippine Sports Commission, to an 18-team logjam at 14th spot with 10 match points.

The country hopes to stretch its giant-slaying ways as it faces off with a higher-ranked Greece in the eighth round being played at press time with International Master Paulo Bersamina replacing Laylo in the line up.

“We’re praying for another miracle, good result,” said the 38-year-old Paragua, who played with stomach problems early in the tournament but kept plodding on.

In the women’s division, the Filipinas bounced back into contention following a 3.5-.5 demolition of the Bolivians on wins by WGM Janelle Mae Frayna, and WIMs Marie Antoinette San Diego and Kylen Joy Mordido on boards one, two and four and a draw by WIM Jan Jodilyn Fronda on board two.

They were battling with the favored Slovenians at press time.

MARK PARAGUA

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