by Marlon Bernardino
4.0 points---GM Mark Paragua (Philippines), GM Fidel Corales Jimenez (Cuba), GM Benjamin Finegold (USA), GM Manuel Leon Hoyos (Mexico), IM Priyadharshan Kannappan (India)
3.5 points---Ruifeng Li (China), Iskandar Aripov (Uzbekistan), Anthony D Paolercio (Italy)
MANILA, Philippines---GRANDMASTER (GM) Mark Callano Paragua once again at the top of his game after winning the tough 18th Annual Mid-America Open Chess Championships last March 14 to 16 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri, United States.
Paragua who is best to remember by winning the 1998 World Rapid Under-14 Championships in Disneyland, France actually was tied for first place with GM Fidel Corales Jimenez of Cuba, GM Benjamin Finegold of United States, GM Manuel Leon Hoyos of Mexico and IM Priyadharshan Kannappan of India, however after the tie break points was applied the amiable Paragua won the championships' trophy.
Ruifeng Li of China, Iskandar Aripov of Uzbekistan and Anthony D Paolercio of Italy was tied at 6th to 8th placers with 3.5 points each.
Paragua an incoming sports consultant at the office of Quezon City Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte compiled four points in five outings with an impressive wins against David Tianjiang Peng and Tianlu Peng of China, Advait Patel of Israel and Kevin Y Cao of USA. He suffered an upset loses to Zach Kasiurak of Lithuania in the second round.
"It's a big boast for the Philippine Chess." said National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) Chairman/ President Prospero "Butch" Pichay Jr. also member of board of trustees of Philippine Olympic Committee.
"Mark Paragua's perfomance in Missouri Open Chess proved that Filipino can slug it out among the World's best," added Asian Zone 3.3 FIDE President and Cavite 7th district Rep. Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino Jr. also the Secretary-General of the NCFP.
"His (Mark Paragua) big wins in Missouri Open Chess added the impressive showing of his countrymen and fellow GMs Wesley So and Julio Catalino "Ino" Sadorra, both made waves in the US chess circuit." said 1976 Palarong Pambansa Western Visayas Chess Champion Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Javier Colmenares also Vice-President of NCFP.
The 18th Annual Mid-America Open Chess Championships organized by the Continental Chess Association headed by husband and wife tandem Bill and Brenda Goichberg.
Paragua, earlier won the Marshall 4 rated games last March 6. He tallied 3.5 points in four outings, the same output of GM Alexander Stripunsky of the USA, whom he beat in tie break points.
Paragua is also schedule to play in the Philadelphia Open on April 16 to 20, Pittsburg Open on May 2 to 4, New York State Open on May 16-18, Chicago Open on May 22 to 26, Northeast Open on June 6 to 8, DC International Open on June 26 to 30 and the prestigious World Open Chess on July 2 to 6.