2008 Jamaica Chess Championship

The Jamaican Nationals are underway and perhaps the most interesting observation is that none of the top players are playing. The field is missing FM Warren Elliott, Shane Matthews, Duane Rowe, Jomo Pitterson and Russel Porter, all past Olympians and national team members.

The field has a mixture of players with several junior players looking to make an impact. Jamaican Chess Federation President Ian Wilkinson is throwing his hat into the ring as well as National Master Andrew Mellace, father of talented phenom Tewana Mellace. National Masters Equitable Brown and Brandon Wilson are also looking to win their first title.

The tournament, sponsored by LASCO DISTRIBUTORS LIMITED, started on Friday, July 4 and is scheduled to end on Sunday July 20. The tourney is being played at two venues, Shirley Retreat Hotel on Wednesdays and Fridays, games starting at 6:00pm, and at the Norman Manley Law School, UWI on Saturdays and Sundays, games starting at 1:00pm.

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Daaim Shabazz

Dr. Daaim Shabazz is the creator and webmaster of The Chess Drum. He serves as a tenured faculty member of Global Business & Marketing at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, USA. He holds an MBA in Marketing and a doctorate in International Affairs & Development. He has served the journalist community for more than 30 years and still competes in tournaments occasionally.


  1. Following is an update from the 2008 Jamaican National Championships after eight rounds. National Master Equitable Brown holds sole possession of first place with a tally of 6/8/. Jamaican Federation President Ian Wilkinson filed this report.


    Round 8 of the 2008 Jamaica championships was a triumph for the black pieces which returned four victories and secured two draws! NM Equitable Brown had a 47-move victory over contender NM Andrew Mellace in a Bishop’s Opening to take the sole lead with six points. Mellace remained on 4.5 and in joint 4th position with NM Brandon Wilson whose Queen’s Gambit Declined was too much for Candidate Master Alain Morais the joint leader with Brown heading into the round. Morais went awry in a tactical melee as Wilson’s resurgence continued. Morais is in clear third on 5 points. Also on 4.5 points is NM Mark Holness whose Queen’s pawn opening transposed into the Austrian Attack against Ian Wilkinson’s Pirc Defence but a draw resulted after 56 moves.

    Wilkinson moved to 4 points ahead of Onaje Lamont and Zachary Ramsay who played to a draw. Both Lamont and Ramsay are on 3.5 points, the same as defending national junior champion Damion Davy who routed Phillip Pryce in just 17 moves. Pryce, the cellar dweller on 1/8, is still looking for his first win. On 3 points is Daren Wisdom who lost a bruising encounter to Stuart James’s Sicilian Najdorf as young ‘Prince James’ romped to clear second on 5.5 points with his victory.

    At 15 years old, James is hoping to continue his run of good form and become the youngest ever Jamaican National Master. It is too early to call the championships with three rounds to go including the ninth round set for Friday July 18 at Shirley Retreat Hotel commencing at 6 pm local time. The matches scheduled for the next round are as follows: Brown – Ramsay; Lamont – Wisdom; James – Holness; Wilkinson – Morais; Davy – Mellace and Wilson – Pryce. The player with the white pieces is named first.

    Ian Wilkinson (17th July, 2008)
    Jamaica Chess Federation

  2. The latest of the greatest from Jamaica! Equitable Brown is holding the lead going into the final round, but faces Mark Holness who is a point behind. Brown only needs to hold Holness to win his first title and open a new era formerly dominated by Matthews, Elliott, Rowe, Porter and Pitterson.


    After four victories and two draws in round ten action of the 2008 Jamaican national championships on Saturday, 19th July at the Norman Manley Law School on the campus of the University of the West Indies, Jamaica, a winner is still to be decided as the event goes down to the wire! The two drawn games featured Candidate Master Daren Wisdom holding the leader NM Equitable Brown in a sharp Two Knights opening where the players castled on opposite sides of the board, while Candidate Masters Stuart James and Alain Morais also drew when the former forced a perpetual with the black pieces. NM Brown remained in the lead with 7.5 points but is not yet guaranteed the title as he can still be caught by NM Mark Holness who won his second straight game by vanquishing Onaje Lamont with the white pieces to move to 6.5 points and within striking distance of NM Brown.

    Damion Davy’s Nimzo-Indian was too much for Zachary Ramsay who was losing his second straight game. NM Brandon Wilson halted Ian Wilkinson’s six-game unbeaten streak by winning in the Closed Sicilian while young Phillip Pryce registered his first victory of the campaign, utilising the white pieces to good effect to turn back NM Andrew Mellace.

    The latest standings are as follows: 1st Brown – 7.5; 2nd Holness – 6.5; 3rd to 4th Wilson & James – 6; 5th to 6th Morais & Davy – 5.5; 7th Wilkinson – 5; 8th to 9th Mellace & Wisdom – 4.5; 10th to 11th Ramsay & Lamont – 3.5 and 12th Pryce – 2.5.

    The curtain comes down on the championships with the final round at the same venue on Sunday, 20th July with the marquee match-up being the game between NM Equitable Brown, who will have the white pieces, and NM Holness. A draw is enough to see Brown copping his first national title while Holness, also in search of his first title, will have to win to force a play-off (to be held at a later date).

    Other games on for the final round are Mellace – Ramsay; Davy – Wisdom; Lamont – Morais; James – Wilson and Wilkinson – Pryce. The player with the white pieces is named first.

    Ian Wilkinson
    Jamaica Chess Federation
    20th July, 2008


    The curtains came down with applause on the 2008 LASCO DISTRIBUTORS LIMITED-sponsored Jamaican Chess Championships at the Norman Manley Law School, on the campus of the University of the West Indies, St. Andrew, Jamaica at about 7:30 pm on Sunday, 20th July, 2008. After a truly grandiose struggle that started at 1 pm and lasted 6 1/2 hours and 122 moves, National Master Equitable Celestial Brown, the Camperdown High School past student and former national junior champion, drew an epic encounter with Montego Bay-based National Master Mark Holness and in the process registered his maiden hold on the national title.

    Brown successfully claimed a draw by repetition and finished with 8 points a full point ahead of Holness who, knowing that he had to win the match to force a play-off for the title, took it to Brown. Holness, although deserving credit for his performance throughout the 11-round event played over a sixteen-day period, must have felt disappointed at the end as he missed several great opportunities to win after emerging two pawns up in the middlegame and having Brown against the ropes for most of the clash.

    To his credit, Brown, borrowing the Kingston College (‘Fortis’) motto ‘the brave may fall but never yield’, refused to give up, fought like a true champion and clung to the vital half point. In other games NM Brandon wilson defeated Stuart James to finish on 7 points and share 2nd – 3rd position with Holness. Onaje Lamont defeated Alain Morais; Phillip Pryce completed a late resurgence by upending an ailing and unrecognisable Ian Wilkinson; an obviously out-of-sorts NM Andrew Mellace went down to Zachary Ramsay who routed the Smith-Morra, and Damion Davy demolished Daren Wisdom to conclude a very good debut performance by the reigning national junior champion.

    The final points standings are as follows:

    1st Brown -8; 2nd to 3rd Wilson & Holness – 7; 4th Davy -6.5; 5th James – 6; 6th Morais – 5.5; 7th Wilkinson – 5; 8th to 10th Ramsay, Mellace & Wisdom – 4.5; 11th Lamont – 4 and 12th Pryce – 3.5.


    WFM Deborah Richards notched her seventh straight hold on the women’s national championship crown by scoring a perfect 8/8 in the nine-player field. The rapidly improving Ariel Barrett finished an impressive second by scoring 7/8 while third place went to Melisha Smith who scored 5.5/8.

    The President’s Invitational event, played at the same time and venues as the national champs and the women’s champs, was won by Ryan Blackwood who scored an unbeaten 10.5/11. Second to third went to Markland Douglas and Paul Brooks who scored 9/11. In the crucial 10th round encounter between Blackwood and Douglas, the former put the white pieces to good use with a win that ensured that the trophy was headed for his home.

    Ian Wilkinson
    Jamaica Chess Federation
    21st July, 2008

    Le Rapier

  4. Ryan,

    I have asked that a few times to different people and here is what I got from Shane Matthews, 7-time champ. He had work committments. Both Malaku Lorne and Duane Rowe are out of the country. Jomo Pitterson is working out of town. Warren Elliott and Russel Porter were unaccounted for. Not a good sign. I’m sure you noticed straight away that there were no Jamaicans at the subzonals. I’m not sure who is on the Olympiad team and how it will be chosen.

  5. Following is the final report of the 2008 Jamaica Championships from Vice President Peter Myers. It adds a few more details from President’s Invitational.


    National Master Equitable Brown (right) held on for a draw at the end of an epic six and a half hour battle against National Master Mark Holness (left) in the final round. (See game)

    National Master Equitable Brown won the 2008 LASCO National Chess Championship, after battling for six and a half hours to secure a hard-fought final round draw against National Master Mark Holness at the Norman Manley Law School on Sunday night.

    Holness missed a number of chances to win the game against Brown after emerging two pawns up in the middlegame and having Brown against the ropes for most of the clash. Brown however refused to give up and fought on to salvage an incredible draw and with it a critical half point to end on eight points from eleven games and claim his first hold on the National Champion title.

    Second was shared by Holness and National Master Brandon Wilson who each ended on seven points.

    The final points standings were:

    1st Equitable Brown – 8 points;
    2nd to 3rd NM Brandon Wilson & NM Mark Holness – 7 points each;
    4th Damion Davy – 6.5 points;
    5th Stuart James – 6 points;
    6th Alain Morais – 5.5 points;
    7th Ian Wilkinson – 5 points;
    8th to 10th Zachary Ramsay, National Master Andrew Mellace & Daren Wisdom – 4.5 points each;
    11th Onaje La Mont – 4 points and
    12th Phillip Pryce – 3.5 points.


    Woman Fide Master Deborah Richards notched her seventh straight hold on the women’s national championship crown by scoring a perfect 8 points from 8 games in the nine-player field. The rapidly improving Ariel Barrett of Wolmer’s Girls finished an impressive second by scoring 7/8, while third place went to Melisha Smith who scored 5.5/8.


    The President’s Invitational event which was also played at the same time and venues as the national championship and the women’s championship, was won by Ryan Blackwood who scored an unbeaten 10.5 points from 11 games. Second to third went to Markland Douglas and Paul Brooks who each scored 9 points.

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