By Herky Del Mundo
GM Mark Paragua led the list of winners in the 2015 Georgia State Championship by scoring 4.5 points in five rounds. This was followed in second place by Senior Life Master Ruifeng Li (rated 2535) from Texas, and high school player Life Master Daniel Gurevich (rated 2441) from Georgia, both with 4.0 points. Seventeen-year-old Gurevich, as the top Georgia resident, emerged as the 2015 Georgia State Champion. Gurevich got even positions from the two grandmasters in the tournament. He drew with two-time state champion GM Alonso Zapata in the fourth round and GM Paragua in the last round.
Paragua and Zapata squared off in the third round. Paragua, playing white, was able to outplay Zapata in 27 moves of a Trompovsky opening. “GM Zapata missed tactical lines when his King got caught in the middle of the board,” said Paragua, who has used the opening effectively against other strong GMs.
Paragua considered his game against Ruifeng Li as his best game in the tournament. He sacrificed his rook, knight and pawn to launch a strong attack.
Gurevich, with a perfect score going to the fourth round had to play Zapata who was a point behind with his loss to Paragua. “I was just hoping to play an equal position,” said Gurevich, who was handling the black pieces against the grandmaster. He said he knew that Zapata’s game against the Sicilian is tough to play. In the middle game, Gurevich said that he had a very good advantage, but it was too complicated to maintain. He was able to exchange a knight for the GM’s rook, but he gave back his rook for a bishop later in the game. With an equal position, the two agreed on a draw.
Against Paragua in the last round, both the GM and Gurevich were due for black. In their pairing, the higher-rated player got the white pieces. Gurevich said, “I knew exactly what he was going to play,” so he opted for solid lines noting Paragua was well-prepared with the Trompovsky opening. After solid moves with equal position, the two agreed to a draw.
The field offered staunch competition, and the plays made against the grandmasters were exciting and nail-biting. Michael Patrick Corallo launched a strong attack against the king side of GM Paragua’s black pieces. But Paragua led a counter-attack on the queenside. With his time running down, Corallo sacrificed his queen, hoping to catch it on a mating net or at least repetition for a draw. Paragua held his position with pure calculation which allowed him to escape the attack. With pieces down, Corallo, with no mate or draw in sight, resigned.
Daniel Vest’s game against GM Zapata was also a cliffhanger. Vest held a possible end-game advantage with a passed e-pawn on the sixth rank, but Zapata was able to penetrate queenside. Vest blundered at time pressure by placing his king on h3, with an attack from Zapata’s queen.
2015 Georgia State Championship
|1||Paragua, Mark C||NY||2647||4.5|
|7||Vest, David M||GA||2200||3.0|
|8||Burnett, Ronald W||TN||2435||2.5|
|11||Scott, Joseph J||GA||2044||2.5|
|5||Hayes, Nathan Alex||GA||1801||4.0|
|6||Manapuram, Eswar Prasad||GA||1714||4.0|
|13||Maurer, Andrei E||PA||1826||3.5|
|20||Jayavel Kumaresan, Kavin||GA||1634||3.0|
|44||Bellayaru, Samarth Rao||GA||1379||2.0|
|45||Blair Jr, Thomas A||GA||1299||2.0|
|50||Staples Jr, Richard||GA||1526||2.0|
|56||Friese, Claus A||GA||1243||1.5|
|58||Mctigue, William J||GA||1445||1.5|
|60||Ogunyemi, Samuel O||GA||1765||1.5|