Pitterson wins Cameron Open… upsets Ashley!

GM Maurice Ashley and Jomo Pitterson face off in a fierce last-round battle. Pitterson scored an upset victory and won the 2007 Fred Cameron crown held in Jamaica. Photo by Allan Herbert.

GM Maurice Ashley is certainly an icon in Jamaica. His story is well-known and when he was invited back to his native country, excitement was high. In addition, Jamaica’s Chess Federation President was releasing a new book title, Excitement Galore: Chess in all its Glory. Several dignitaries were on hand to witness this historic occassion and the event was widely-covered.

The excitement hit a fever pitch in the Fred Cameron Open when GM Ashley had waltzed through the first five rounds unscathed on 5-0. This included a thrilling victory over FM Philip Corbin of Barbados, also known as the “Caribbean Tal.” Ashley would face National Master Jomo Pitterson, who is arguably the hottest player on the Jamaican scene at this moment. The game was indeed thrilling as Ashley played an anti-Sveshnikov line and the game delved into a complicated struggle.

Pitterson’s two bishops neutralized Ashley’s attacking chances on the kingside and he finished the game with a final blow. The audience erupted into applause and Ashley gracefully accepted his defeat as being a breakthrough for Jamaican chess.

See Ashley-Pitterson here! (analysis by GM Ashley)
See Ashley-Pitterson here! (analysis by Pitterson)



    Magnificent Chess, the new kid on the block, and chief sponsors Burger King combined to produce the biggest and strongest open chess tournament in Jamaica’s history with the staging of the Jamaica Chess Federation’s 2007 Frederick Cameron Chess Open, a six-round Swiss event that was held over two days on Saturday December 15 and Sunday December 16, 2007.

    The venue was the Jamaica Conference Centre, the site of the International Seabed Authority, and a record registration of more than two hundred players made the event truly exciting. The tournament, named in honour of one of the founding fathers of Jamaican chess and a former president of the Jamaica Chess Federation, finished on a bang with National Master Jomo Pitterson producing a brilliant performance in the final round of the Open Section to defeat the celebrated international Jamaican-born grandmaster Maurice Ashley who was playing his first tournament on his native soil.

    Heading into the final round Ashley was on 5 points and needed only a draw to clinch first place. Pitterson was on 4.5 points and needed to win to ensure that he took the top honours. The Campion College past student showed that his great results in 2007 (including performances abroad in tournaments in Curacao and Trinidad & Tobago) were no fluke as he brought the house down, his victory being greeted with tremendous applause in what was fittingly the final game to finish in the tournament. GM Ashley, who has sworn to help Jamaican chess rise in the chess world, praised Pitterson for his effort and was gracious and philosophical in defeat, taking time out to hand the winner’s trophy to Pitterson during the awards ceremony. He said that his loss was great for Jamaican chess.

    Second place went to Ashley while there was a tie for third place with Barbadian FM Phillip Corbin and Jamaican national masters Brandon Wilson, Shane Matthews, Russel Porter and Geoffrey Byfield all finishing on 4.5 points. Corbin came out ahead on the tie-breaks. It was obvious from the beginning that the event would have been one of the highest calibre on local soil as in addition to GM Ashley there were two Fide Masters, eleven national masters and a number of candidate masters in a field of approximately fifty players.

    Apart from Ashley and Corbin the tournament’s international flavour was spiced up by the competitive presence of Barbadian Allan Herbert, the chairman of CACDEC (a commission established by the world chess federation to provide assistance for developing chess countries) and Trinidadian Edison Raphael the chairman of the Trinidad & Tobago chess foundation. The Amateur Section, with approximately seventy players, was won by Kareem Wright and the Beginners/Unrated Section, with more than one hundred players registered, was won by Samantha Nelson.

    A more detailed report (with pictures) will follow soon.

    Ian Wilkinson, President Jamaica Chess Federation (Dec. 18, 2007)

  2. Jomo Pitterson scored an upset win over Grandmaster Maurice Ashley in the final round to take the 2007 Burger King Fred Cameron Open Chess Tournament over the weekend in Kingston, Jamaica.

    FIDE Master Dr. Philip Corbin placed 3rd having lost the penultimate round against Grandmaster Ashley playing his pet Elephant Gambit and drawing with Shane Matthews in the final round.

    Grandmaster Ashley, who came second, has kindly shared the attached game against Pitterson with his analysis.

    Having attended the tournament, I was most impressed Ashley’s gracious demenour through out the tournament, the way he carried himself, handled uncomfortable situation of losing to Pitterson in the last round and his genuine interest in the development of Jamaican Chess.

    Jamaican by birth, Grandmaster Ashley migrated to the US at the age of 12 and made chess history by becoming the first black Chess Grandmaster.

    Thirty years on Grandmaster Ashley still travels on his Jamaican passport and is a proud chess ambassador for Jamaica.

    While in Jamaica, Grandmaster Ashley gave the key note speech at the launch of the Magnificent Chess Foundation where he recounted the positive role chess has made to his life growing up as a Jamaica immigrant in the dangerous inner city of New York. His work with young inner city kids is world renown and is one of the most often quoted models for chess as a socio-development tool with at risk kids.

    Grandmaster Ashley is one of the most sought after chess speakers and coaches in the US and shared with the writer an exciting new project he has been contracted to assist with, the introduction of chess in the prison system.

    Attached is a press release from tournament organizer Ian Wilkinson of Jamaica plus a selection of photos.

    Allan Herbert (Barbados)



    It was high drama at the Jamaica Conference Centre over the weekend, when National Master and three-time Jamaica National Champion Jomo Pitterson defied the odds to defeat Jamaican–born International Grandmaster Maurice Ashley in the last round of the JMMB/Burger King Frederick Cameron Chess Open, to take top honours.

    Pitterson entered the final round on 4.5 points, half-point behind Ashley who had defeated his previous five opponents to be on a perfect 5 points from 5 games. Pitterson faced a must-win situation with the black pieces if he was to take the top prize, while Ashley needed only a draw.

    As the game entered the final phase where both players had less than five minutes on their clocks, Pitterson made good use of his superior position to close out the Grandmaster with a series of deft tactical manoeuvres. Ashley, who appeared stunned by Pitterson’s play in the end, sat motionless as the final few seconds on his clock ran out, which resulted in thunderous applause from the spectators in the Conference Centre.

    Second place went to Ashley while there was a tie for third place with Barbadian Phillip Corbin and Jamaican National Masters Brandon Wilson, Shane Matthews, Russel Porter and Geoffrey Byfield all finished on 4.5 points.

    The field included ten of Jamaica ’s eleven active National Masters, two FIDE Masters and Grandmaster Maurice Ashley who was a guest of the Magnificent Chess Limited. The tournament was named in honour of one of the founding fathers of Jamaican chess and a former president of the Jamaica Chess Federation, Frederick Cameron.

    Pitterson, who has played and achieved excellent results in a number of overseas tournaments this year, will over the next few years be aiming to secure an international master title.

    Grandmaster Ashley, who turned 41 in March of this year, is the first International Grandmaster to participate in a local chess tournament. He learned to play chess when he was about eight years old while living in Jamaica . He started high school at Wolmer’s Boys, but left Jamaica at about 12 years of age and went to live in the United States of America where his passion for chess developed. Ashley rose to the highest chess level of International Grandmaster in 1999 and in the process became the first and until this year, the only person of African-descent to do so.

    The JMMB/Burger King Frederick Cameron Chess Open, which was organised by Magnificent Chess Limited under the auspices of the Jamaica Chess Federation (JCF), was the biggest tournament in the history of Jamaican chess with a turnout of over 200 competitors. The field included ten of Jamaica ’s eleven active National Masters, two FIDE Masters and Grandmaster Maurice Ashley who was a guest of the Magnificent Chess Limited.


    Attached are two pics from the ‘epic’ encounter and preliminary analysis of the game from JCF President and Managing Director of the organisers Magnificent Chess Limited Ian Wilkinson and also from Grandmaster Maurice Ashley.


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