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The Enigmatic Grandmaster

  • GM Gserper
  • | Aug 18, 2013

Grandmaster Mark Paragua from the Philippines is not a household name. But he is a very strong and solid GM who can be a dangerous opponent for anyone. The next remarkable game played by Mark both fascinates and puzzles me. Let's see what happened there and for starters, my dear readers, try to find the way GM Paragua begins a very powerful attack against the black king:

After three devastating tactical shots, the black king was forced out of his residense and now White needs to find the best way to checkmate him! The first move that comes to mind in the following position is 23.Rg1 and it looks like White checkmates in two or three moves. Also note that if Black tries to deflect the white pieces with checks, White will reply with a countercheck which would lead to an immediate checkmate! And yet, there is a hidden defense. Try to find it!

In the actual game Mark Paragua preferred a different way to continue his attack and checkmated the black king with a precise sequence of checks. Try to find it on your own!

So, did the beautiful combination by Mark Paragua lead to a forced checkmate?  Unfortunately, no! Black still has a defense. Try to find it.

This is a very beautiful game that will teach you a lot about attack and defense in chess, but there is a puzzle that I cannot solve. Any strong chess player would play 23.Rg1 which leads to a forced checkmate in two or three moves...unless he sees the unbelievable defense 23...Qg4!!. So, the fact that GM Paragua didn't play 23.Rg1 implies that either:

  1. He saw 23...Qg4, which is highly unlikely. Even if you know that there is a defense after 23.Rg1, it will be difficult to find such an unbelievable move as 23...Qg4!!, but in a regular game when you don't suspect miracles of one-in-a-hundred-of-years move 23...Qg4!!, I don't think there is a human chess player who would see it in a real game.
  2. He was in a time trouble, so he missed 23.Rg1 altogether.

Unfortunately, both theories don't hold water since:

  1. In the extremely unlikely event that Mark Paragua did see 23...Qg4!!, how could he miss the identical 24...Qg4!! defense in the actual game?
  2. If he was in time trouble (really? On move 23??) and didn't see 23.Rg1, then how could he possibly find an 11-wmove sequence of moves that led to a checkmate?

My only hope is that Mark Paragua somehow reads this article and can clear the mistery!

But this is not the only one puzzle by Mark Paragua. Here is another one. It is a well-known opening position where White can get a very pleasant advantage with an immediate d4-d5 break. If Black defends well, then his position is just worse, but just one single mistake can be fatal. See how a very experienced grandmaster was already dead lost just five moves after the d4-d5! break:

Now look at the game our hero, GM Mark Paragua, played in a very important tournament (World Championship!) against a very strong opponent:

You are probably saying that even extremely strong chess players cannot possibly know all chess tricks and therefore Mark Paragua was simply not aware of the 12.d5! move. I will respectfully disagree. I insist that Mark Paragua knew about the 12.d5! move for sure!  How do I know? Because he played this move himself just one year before the game against Bologan, and won that game!

Why didn't he repeat the move that already brought him a win? Was he afraid of possible home preparation of GM Bologan? This is another mystery that only GM Paragua can answer!



  • 2 years ago


    black is still winning after Kg8 and Qf6 black can play

    23. ....  Bf4+

    24. Qxf4  Qe6

    25.Bg5   Qe4

    26. Qxe4  Rxe4

  • 2 years ago


    Thank you Mamitou!

  • 2 years ago


    Hmm, devastating tactical shots? It was a draw.

  • 2 years ago


    your right about one thing Gm paragua is very dangerous opponet he's a dark horse.

  • 2 years ago


  • 2 years ago



    23. Qf6 Bf4+?! doesn't do it as after BxB the king can't run as the queen has check on h8, the rook is coming to g1 and the B can go right back to where he came from on h5 or even to d6 where he pins the rook if black moves the king over.  Yeah, black can keep throwing canon fodder at the attackers but they get munched one by one.

    The problem is white has too many angles to attack black and the only way black can slow it down is by sacrificing more pieces.  That only slows it, it doesn't stop it.

  • 2 years ago


    While I doubt this is ideal, this gives white a little more from the position. Unfortunately my first attempt at using the editor didn't work too well.
  • 2 years ago


    I will contact Mark and let him know.

  • 2 years ago


    kingscannonse3e2 The author was just speaking loosely, considering a forced resignation due to checkmate on the next move to be the same achievement as the actual checkmate.

  • 2 years ago


  • 2 years ago


    What I really like is how it states that he checkmated the black king and then it also states that his opponent resigned, because he knew that checkmate would be on the next move. Why are there two conflicting statements? Is there anyone that can explain to me why that is instead of there being confilct in the reporting?

  • 2 years ago


    But still, black has a solution to Qf6. Bf4+!. It stops the momentum of white's attack.

  • 2 years ago


    @strangleu. 22. Kg8 is met by 23. Qf6

  • 2 years ago


    TQ SIR

  • 2 years ago


    excellent post!  Thanks..

  • 2 years ago


    That were great moves. Thanks for this very good article. Mark adjusted well with his opponent: different strategy against different "enemy".

  • 2 years ago


    Isn't GM Paragua a member here?  Maybe someone should send him an invite.

  • 2 years ago


    Masterful combinations for the Filipino GM.  Good luck on your chess career!

  • 2 years ago


    to Yelmoelpeon   ....if 23. Qh4-g5+       then 23.         .....         Bh7-g6      

    24. Qg5-f6         Bd6-f4+       

    25. Qf6xf4         Nb6-d5        

    26. Qf4-f3         Ra8-e8        

    27. Bh6-d2         Qd7-d6        

    28. Bh5xg6          anf black is better


    of course you can omit the check on g5 and play queen f6 immediately so as the black light squared bishop stays on h7 ....


    p.s. i dont have rybka.....

  • 2 years ago


    that was amazing...maybe your conclusion is right...he may have thought that Bologan has prepared a plan to counter that 12.d5 central break so our hero tried another plan that his opponent may not be prepared and looks like it works...because after 15.Be3 Bologan was forced to play 12...g6 which has created a weakness on his king side defense.I mentioned it forced because Mark may have thought to play g4 afterwards to remove the night on f6 and it's a mate on h7.Bologan may have anticipated that idea and therfore he moved 12....g6?!

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