Trinidad Trinidad Trinidad

Bhisham Soondarsingh, "Harper hold on to Crown," Trinidad & Tobago Express, 26 October 2006 (Port-of-Spain, Trinidad).

FIDE Master Ryan Harper has joined the elite group of national chess champions in successfully defending his title in the 11-round New India Assurance national chess finals at the College of Science Technology and Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago (COSTAATT) campus, Port of Spain, contested over the past month.

He has won the most prestigious local tournament for the third time-2002, 2005 and 2006, and is now grouped with former top players like
Dr. Shawn Taveres, who also won the title on three occasions-1982, 1986, 1987, before he migrated to England; Fred Sabga won four times-1966, 1970,1971 and 1972; well-known (the late) Frank Brassington won five times--1951, 1954, 1956, 1958 and 1961 and of course, 13-times champion FM Christo Cave who is a big distance away having dominated between 1990 to 2004. Harper has surpass champion national masters Arnold Ramon-Fortune, Arthur Rudy Mohipp, Arthur Morris, Cecil Lee and Yogendranath Ramsingh all of whom won the top prize on two occasions.

FM Ryan Harper. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

FM Ryan Harper, 2006 T&T Champion
(Photo by Daaim Shabazz)

The competition this year was again keenly contested and Harper admitted at the prize-giving closing ceremony that it was tough throughout the 11 rounds with FM Frank Yee putting up the strongest game in which he could have been defeated. Harper secured victory with 10.5 points dropping only half point against national junior champion Marcus Joseph.

FM Mario Merritt placed second with 9 points. Merritt kept his chances alive up to the final round and made it difficult for Harper who could not afford to slip up at any point. Dr. Eddison Chang was third with 8 points and is improving his position each year.Fourth was Cecil Lee on 6.5 points; fifth-Kishore Ramadhar on 6 points; sixth-David Christopher, Marcus Joseph , Frank Sears, all on 5.5 points; ninth - Frank Yee on 4 points; 10th - Rodrick Noel on 3 points; 11th - David Jones on 1.5 points and 12th--Hayden Lee on 1 point.

In the national women's championship, sponsored by Heartbeat 103.5fm (Radio for Women), national women master Aditi Soondarsingh and Jane Kennedy are joint winners. Both players ended with 5.5 points having drew their game and winning against all their other five opponents. Soondarsingh had also won the title in 2004. The only other player to have won the female championship on two occasions is Desire Derrick--2002 and 2003--who is now studying abroad. Kennedy, a southerner, is a consistent top female player who returned to active chess just two years ago.

Above photo: Heartbeat 103.5FM representative Gita Bootoor (centre) handing over the Heartbeat 103.5FM Challenge Trophy to joint women's national chess champions Aditi Soondarsingh (left) and Jane Kennedy. Photo by Trinidad and Tobago Chess Federation.

Above photo: Heartbeat 103.5FM representative Gita Bootoor (centre) handing over the Heartbeat 103.5FM Challenge Trophy to joint women's national chess champions Aditi Soondarsingh (left) and Jane Kennedy.

Last year's winner, Chantal Fitzpatrick, did not defend her title but choose instead to play in the TTCA Open tournament which was contested alongside the national championships. Samantha Seecharan placed third with 4 points, while Javanna Smith, Lyndy-Ann Guiseppi, Arlene Blackman, Camille Chung, Melissa Pereira, Yanna Lopez and Stephenis Hosang all ended on 3 points apiece.

In the New India Assurance national Blitz Championship
Frank Yee came out on top making him the new national Blitz champ for the first time. Yee prevented Harper from repeating the "double' which he did last year. Yee won with 6 points, playing unbeaten and drawing two of his games against Ronnie Chung and Ravishen Singh. In joint second place were Ryan Harper and Kurtis Chung on 5.5 points.

The TTCA Open tournament, played simultaneously with the national championships, was won by Colin Knight. Knight took the seven-rounds Swiss-style battle with 6.5 points.

The national championships was organised by the Trinidad and Tobago Chess Association where you can visit at website:

Elton Joseph (far left) being presented his Heroes Cup while Tameko McDonald and Donovan Williamson flash their trophies. Dr. Harold Munnings (2nd from left)  sponsored the tournament. Photo by Bahamas Chess Federation.

Bhisham Boondarsingh (center) presents the championship trophies to Frank Yee (Blitz) and FM Ryan Harper (National Championship).

Posted by The Chess Drum: 27 October 2006