AFTER weeks of shying away from the issue, Grandmaster Mark Paragua finally broke his silence as he categorically denied involvement in the game-fixing controversy that has rocked the Philippine chess community.
In breaking his silence, Paragua defended himself from accusation that he, along with International Masters Ronald Dableo and Darwin Laylo, and a handful of low-ranked players connived with each other to fix the tournaments in their favor.
“Walang katotohanan ‘yan. Hinding-hindi ako nag-game fixing sa kahit na anong tournament na sinalihan ko,” blurted Paragua.
The 22-year-old former Super GM, currently the country’s top player with an Elo of 2573, said that he is willing to face the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) board to prove his innocence on the charges.
“Hindi ako natatakot humarap kahit kanino at handa akong patunayan na wala akong kasalanan sa ibinibintang nila,” he said.
“Ang alam ko kagagawan lang ‘yan ng ibang player at official na naiingit sa amin, lalo na ‘yung mga player na hindi maka-pwesto pag kasali kami sa tournament,” he added.
In the last year’s Tanauan Open, the tournament which several NCFP officials said to be where the evidence of rampant game-fixing is strong, Paragua said that he did not deliberately dropped his final round match with the eventual champion IM Chito Garma.
“Talagang tinalo kami ni Garma dahil ang ganda talaga ng nilalaro niya nun. Kahit ng sina (GMs) Eugene (Torre) and Joey (Antonio) ay tinalo n’ya at si (Richard) Bitoon lang ang nakatabla sa kanya.” said the Quezon City based woodpusher.
“So kung sinasabi nilang may game-fixing na nangyari dun bakit kami lang ang iniimbetigahan, bakit hindi nila din imbestigahan ‘yung iba na tinalo ni Garma,” he explained.
Apologies in advance to our English-only readers. But basically, Paragua says that he's ready to face his accusers and prove his innocence. The grandmaster also emphatically asserts that Chito Garma did beat him fair and square.