Masterpiece of a win

Grandmaster Mark Paragua produced a 36-move masterpiece with the black pieces as the Philippines held powerhouse Poland to a 2-all standoff in the seventh round of the 44th Chess Olympiad in Chennai, India Thursday.

The 38-year-old Filipino essayed the Sicilian Defense against Poland’s No. 1 player, GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda who suffered his first defeat.

Despite an ELO rating of 2750 that dwarfs Paragua’s 2461, Duda fell prey to the Filipino’s aggressive play.

With both players castling on opposing sides, Paragua was quick to mount a queenside attack, giving up a center pawn to speed up his development.

Struggling for counterplay, Duda gave up the exchange on the 21st to post a knight on the center.

But Paragua forced the opening of the a-file from where he directed his attack with his queen and two rooks.

As Duda recalled his pieces for the defense of the beleaguered king, Paragua would not be denied forcing the Pole to resign or face the loss of the queen to delay the mate.

The victory, Paragua’s third in six matches, kept the Filipinos in a share of 14th spot with 10 points, three points behind solo leader Armenia.

Poland struck back on the fourth board through GM Mateusz Bartel who dealt GM Darwin Laylo his first loss in 23 moves of a Queen’s Gambit Declined.

The 42-year-old Filipino played poorly in the opening and facilitated his downfall with a blunder on the 19th move, leading to the loss of his rook.

Two other matches ended in draws.

GM Rogelio Barcenilla, who delivered against Israel in the previous round, settled for repetition of moves with GM Kacper Piorun after 39 moves of an English Opening.

In board three, GM John Paul Gomez, the only unbeaten Filipino so far, continued his solid play, holding GM Wojciech Moranda to a draw with black after 31 moves of a Ruy Lopez.

The game was reduced to a drawish endgame after both players traded the queen and major pieces swiftly.

In the eighth round, the Filipinos clash with Greece.

Meanwhile, Philippine-born American Wesley So absorbed his first defeat at the hands of GM Hrant Melkumyan as top seed United States battled Armenia to a 2-all standoff.

Armenia and the US maintained its top two positions in the team standings.

In women’s play, the Filipinas crushed Bolivia, 3.5-1.5, to climb into a tie for 30th place with 9 points.

WGM Janelle Mae Frayna humbled WIM Daniela Cordero on the top board to lead the assault.

WIM Marie Antoinette San Diego trounced WFM Jessica Molina while WIM Kylen Joy Mordido routed WIM Nataly Monroe.

Bolivia averted a shutout when WFM Maria Eugenia Ramirez halved the point with WIM Jan Jodilyn Fronda.

The Filipinas battle Slovenia in the eighth round.

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