The Enigmatic Grandmaster

The Enigmatic Grandmaster

| 35 | Tactics

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!


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