TOP seed GM Mark Paragua underscored his billing as the country’s top player by winning the fourth PECA-Chooks-to-Go rapid chess championships recently.
Paragua, looking supremely confident in this biggest gathering of the country’s top.players in the coronavirus-hit year, posted 8.5 points on eight wins and one draw to capture the title in the nine-round tournament organized by the Philippine Executive Chess Association and the Rotary Club of Nuvali and sponsored by Chooks-to-Go.
The championship was worth P100,000 for the New York City-based Paragua.
The 37-year-old Paragua, who became a grandmaster in 2005, won over Andrew Pablo, Michael Cuamag, Brylle Arellano, NM Jonathan Tan, Chester Neil Reyes, IM Jan Emmanuel Garcia, FM Austin Jacob Literatus and Frank Rafailes.
His only draw came against fellow GM John Paul Gomez in the sixth round.
Little-known No. 80 seed Michael Gastala of Koronadal City and Gomez shared second to third places with eight points.
Gastala dropped his first-round match to Mike Ivan Sabes befode sweeping his next eight assignments.
The 26-year-old Gastala capped his rousing campaign with an upset victory over FM Nelson Mariano III.
Gomez matched Gastala’ s record with seven wins and two draws.
That included a morale-boosting vicopry over fellow GM Oliver Barbosa in the eighth and penultimate round.
Gastala pocketed the runner-up prize of P75,000, while Gomez earned P50,000.
Nine players, led by Christian Mark Daluz of Bulan, Sorsogon and Ellan Asuela of Bacolod City shared fourth to 12th places with 7.5 points.
Daluz clinched fourth place by virtue of the highest tiebeak score, while Asuela wound up fifth.
Also with the same score are Samson Lim, Allan Pason, FM Roel Abelgas, GM Darwin Laylo, IM Rolando Nolte, Jave Mareck Peteros and IM John Marvin Miciano.
Barbosa led 14 other players in 14th to 27th places with seven points.
The other notable are seven-ponters are FM Alekhine Nouri, WIM Jan Jodilyn Fronda, IM Jan Emmanuel Garcia, FM Narquingden Reyes, NM Merben Roque and GM Rogelio Antonio, Jr.
Comebacking IM Ronald Dableo led a seven-way tie with 6.5 points.
This is the fourth time that PCAP and Bounty Agro Ventures, Inc. (BAVI), makers of Chooks-to-Go, have teamed-up to organize the chessfest.
PECA president Dr. Fred Paez, however, said this year’s tournament is the biggest in terms of total cash prizes amounting to more than P5000,000 and total number of participants.