Jamaica launched Int’l Tourney!

“Chess Masters ace off in International Tourney,” Jamaica Observer, Saturday, March 14, 2009.

Jamaica Jamaica Jamaica

The Magnificent Chess Foundation and the University of the West Indies (UWI) Chess Society will stage the Magnificent Chess UWI Masters Tournament from March 16 to 22.

The tournament, which will be rated by the game’s international governing body FIDE, will take place at the Medallion Hall Hotel, Hope Road, on March 16 and 17 and at the UWI Assembly Hall from March 19 to 22.

A number of international chess masters from several countries will challenge Jamaica’s three top internationally rated players in the Masters Tournament. The three Jamaicans include Fide Master (FM) Warren Elliott (Jamaica’s highest internationally-rated player), Fide Master Jomo Pitterson (Jamaica’s top performer over the past two years and Jamaica’s unbeaten star of the 2008 Chess Olympiad in Dresden, Germany) and National Master Shane Matthews, Jamaica’s record seven-time national champion.
These Jamaicans are pursuing an “International Chess Master” title which would be a first for Jamaica.

The Jamaicans will face their toughest competition in Jamaica to date, as several players of note have been invited from countries such as Barbados, Cuba and Sweden to participate in the event.

One of the invitees is International Chess Grandmaster (GM) Alfonso Romero Holmes, one of Spain’s top GMs, who has played against many of the world’s top players and who performed excellently for Spain at the 2002 Chess Olympiad in Bled, Slovenia, dispatching many grandmasters to win a medal on board three.

The other international players slated to participate are GM Roman Hernandez Onna (Cuba), GM-elect Amon Simutowe (Zambia), IM Jose Vilela (Cuba), IM Oladapo Adu (Nigeria), FM Delise Warner (Barbados) FM Bengt Hammar (Sweden).

In addition to the Masters event, there will be an Open tournament for players of all levels and tournaments for beginners and intermediate players at the Assembly Hall of the UWI. These events are part of the historic “Magnificent Chess Week” that featured a public chess extravaganza at the Half-Way-Tree Transport Centre yesterday.

Jamaica Observer: https://www.jamaicaobserver.com/sports/html/20090313T210000-0500_147513_OBS_CHESS_MASTERS_FACE_OFF_IN_INT_L_TOURNEY.asp


  1. I agree. We can learn from the brothers in Jamaica. They have organized a tournament for their masters to take the next step. Although, the Wilbert Paige tournament was forward thinking for our masters, we need to organize a tournament now for IMs and GMs norms. I think the reason that there are not more Black IM or GM is because we are not invited to these close tournaments.

  2. Well… we can learn from each other. The Jamaicans are learning to organize these events and it is primarily through the strength of its dynamic leader, Ian Wilkinson. We have known a long time that we need to organize tournaments for ourselves. There will be little hope at more GMs if this doesn’t happen.

    However, we need to have laborers. It is hard to find people (these days) who are willing to sacrifice time and resources to make it happen. Believe me… I have tried to organize an IM/GM tournament for the past four years and good help is very hard to find. Reliability is certainly needed… and one person cannot sustain the effort.

  3. Yes, Indeed Daaim, I certainly know what you are talking about personally. To organize any tournament is not easy at all not to even talk about an IM/GM invitational event. You are right, it is very hard to find people who are willing to put the necessary time and commitment that it takes to do anything concrete in terms of tournament organization, but what we have plenty of are a bunch of talkers and criticizers who will not be around when the real work is been done, but will have plenty to criticize when the work is completed. Some time you evaluate all the effort and the time and even personal finances that you put into helping to organize things and then you ask yourself it is worth it at all. At some point, I may end up moving away from all this and concentrate on something else.

  4. Kunle,

    The irony is that everyone wants the joy of playing, but not expending any energy to sacrifice and organize. Chess players can sometimes be selfish in this regard. I’ve seen Ian Wilkinson carry the entire chess community on his shoulders. I’m not sure how he does it, but at least he has his officers to rely on. I hope to be able to organize at least one invitation, but it doesn’t appear that the conditions are ripe for doing so. It is difficult to organize without strong help.

    Unfortunately, in the African Diaspora, there is less activity than five years ago. No one (apart from a few players) are playing consistently. Articles don’t appear in the African press as they used to and there are few reports emerging from the continent. When other regions are blossoming, chess on the African continent seems to be regressing. Certainly FIDE is doing little or nothing to invigorate the region apart from sending a few sets and clocks, but someone has to take the initiative. People tend to help those who help themselves.

    Chess in the Black community (here in America) is almost dead apart from a few young stars. None of the master-level players (apart from Emory Tate and Dapo Adu) play on a consistent basis. Caribbean chess is perhaps the brightest spot within the Diaspora. Jamaica has its Ian Wilkinson; Barbados has its Allan Herbert; Trinidad has its Edison Raphael. Bermuda and Curacao have their big events. This is probably going to be the best place to stage some tournaments where players in the Diaspora can vie for norms. We don’t have to worry about the visa issue as much.

  5. Round #1

    In the first round of Jamaica’s Magnificent Chess Invitational, one decisive game saw top-seed Grandmaster from Spain crushing Warren Elliott’s loosely-played opening to score a miniature victory. In the final position, black’s porous position collapses and the Jamaica FIDE Master will hemorrhage material. GM Alfonso Romero-Holmes rules the top table.

    Jamaican legend and seven-time national champion Shane Matthews played an interesting game against IM Jose Vilela of Cuba ending in an exciting draw. Matthews sacrificed an exchange to launch a frontal assault on the centralized black king. Black had just castled before a draw was agreed. Perhaps there was a time issue since black was a solid exchange to the good. Barbados’ Delisle Warner faced Swedish FM Bengt Hammar and in an uneventful French, they signed a treaty in just 22 moves.

  6. How could he take 13…Bxc3?! this move look bad even as a blitz game. Keep to the basic, development. Maybe just 13….Nc6. I think Black is alright in these loose positions.

  7. Daaim,

    what are you talking about?? Chess is dead in the Black community?? Maybe where you live. Please, before making such comments do a little research, like check who have been playing and not playing.

  8. Do research? I think I’ve done quite a bit… eight years worth. How do you think I’ve been able to do the site?

    If you know, inform us. Where is the current news? If it’s there, I haven’t seen it. Who’s playing? What are their results? Any prizes? Any norms? Any new titles? Any new masters? Any new rising stars? Any new websites? Any new organizations? Any new developments? Any articles? Any annotated games?

    I expect you to post an update to tell us what is going on in the Black community in the U.S.

  9. Hi Daaim
    Thanks for putting on some of the games. Keep up the work as I try to get some more information on what’s happening in Jamaica.

    Magnificent Chess UWI Masters International Tournament

    * * *

    After one round of play, top seed Grandmaster Alphanso Romero Holmes has already taken the lead in the Magnificent Chess UWI Masters tournament, currently taking place in the Assembly Hall at the University of the West Indies.

    Holmes defeated Jamaica’s number one ranked player FIDE Master Warren Elliott in 27 convincing moves on Tuesday. In the other matches that took place on Tuesday, Jamaica’s National Master Shane Matthews drew with Cuban International Master Jose Vilela, while FIDE Master Delisle Warner of Barbados had a similar result against Swedish FIDE Master Bengt Hammar.

    Jamaica’s in-form international player, who is still being hailed for his exploits at the Dresden Chess Olympiad in November 2008, FIDE Master Jomo Pitterson, had a bye and hence did not play.

    The tournament took a break on Wednesday as the visitors were treated to a tour of Jamaica.

    Thursday to Sunday will see full days of chess activities as the Masters tournament will be joined in the Assembly Hall at the University of teh West Indies by participants in the Open event which begins on Thursday and continues until Sunday and the Scholastic event which takes place on Friday.

    ~ Peter Myers ~

    Grandmaster Holmes (seated left) does a post-game analysis with Jamaican FIDE Master Warren Elliott (seated right). Looking on standing from left are Swedish FIDE Master Bengt Hammar, Jamaica’s National Junior Chess Champion  Damion Davy of Camperdown High, FIDE Master Jomo Pitterson and Jamaican National Champion Equitable Brown.

    Grandmaster Alfonso Holmes (seated left) does a post-game analysis with Jamaican FIDE Master Warren Elliott (seated right). Looking on standing from left are Swedish FIDE Master Bengt Hammar, Jamaica’s National Junior Chess Champion Damion Davy of Camperdown High, FIDE Master Jomo Pitterson and Jamaican National Champion Equitable Brown.

    Jamaican National Master Shane Matthews (left) analyses his Round one game with Cuban International Master Jose Vilela.

    Jamaican National Master Shane Matthews (left) analyses his Round one game with Cuban International Master Jose Vilela.

  11. On second look, maybe 13….Bxc3 is not bad after all. The final position is interesting, its difficult to determine who is better. Maybe I would rather play Black, maybe not. Very hard to say. One thing I know that it was too soon to call for peace for Black or White.

  12. Hi Daaim,
    I do agree with you. What we need is measurable, purposeful progress. We need to see more (and new)organisers, TDs and donors AND new players from the inner cities. We should not be content with just turning up to play a weekend Swiss or Blitz and then go home. Those who have access or contacts to places to play, that can be rented at, or below market value, as well as those of us who can use our travel miles and hotel points to support ambitious players in their quests for norms should come out and let the rest of us know about their willingness to share these resources.

  13. Round #3


    After three rounds of the Magnificent Chess UWI Masters event, the rating favourite Spanish Grandmaster Alfonso Romero Holmes is in the lead with 2.5 points from 3 games closely followed by Jamaican FM Warren Elliott who is on 2 points from 3 games. Cuban IM Jose Vilela is on 1.5, Jamaican NM Shane Matthews and Swedish FM Bengt Hammar are each on 1 point while Jamaican FM Jomo Pitterson and Barbadian FM Delisle Warner are on 0.5 points.

    In round 2 games (played Thursday morning at the Shirley Retreat Hotel) Holmes and Vilela drew after 25 moves in a position that had dynamic equality and a lot of life.

    Pitterson, playing his first game in the event, pulled off a surprise by playing 1.e4!? His opponent, Matthews, returned the compliment by replying 1…c6, unveiling the Caro-Kann defence and the peace treaty was signed after 20 moves.


    The only other game to be played saw real pyrotechnics as Elliott wielded the white pieces with vicious effect, sacrificing a knight en route to dismantling Hammar’s Sicilian Nafdorf defence in just 21 moves.

    In the round 3 games played in the Assembly Hall on the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica, Elliott again produced a gem of a performance using his Benko Gambit to rout Warner who could not put the white pieces to good effect.


    GM Holmes maintained his lead after winning a pawn and grinding down Pitterson in 68 moves, the game lasting almost 5 hours. The Spanish maestro, who was obviously drained by the effort, showered praise on his Jamaican adversary stating in excellent English that Jomo was “very, very good”.

    Alfonso Romero-Holmes and Jomo Pitterson battle!
    Photo by Mark Bowen.

    Round 4 continues at 12 noon on Friday, March 20 at the Assembly Hall, UWI with Vilela-Warner, Pitterson-Hammar and Matthews-Romero, while rounds 5 and 6 will be played on Saturday, March 21 at the Shirley Retreat Hotel. The event culminates with the final round at 12 noon on Sunday, March 22 at UWI.


    In the Open event that commenced Friday evening at UWI a number of upsets occurred, including Valence Jordan’s win with the black pieces against national champion NM Equitable Brown and Amari Graham’s victory over NM Mark Holness. Round 2 of the Open continues on Friday as well at 5:30 pm at UWI. A “Scholastic” section featuring beginners from various Jamaican schools will also be played today commencing at 10:00 am at the Assembly Hall, UWI. Amateur and Intermediate players will also have the chance to play for prizes this weekend at UWI.

    The events are being staged by the Magnificent Chess Foundation and the UWI Chess Society with sponsorship from General Accident Insurance Company, Pulse Investments, Supreme Ventures, Guardian Life Insurance Company and Subway.

    Ian Wilkinson
    Chairman, Magnificent Chess Foundation

  14. Bengt’s 6.c3 looks unnatural. Maybe black can play 6…Nc6 and on 7.Be3 Qb6 may be in the air. If white plays 7.Nxc6 then, black play dxc6 and e5 and try to blockade on the dark squares. White queenside knight will have to develop awkwardly.


    Although Spanish Grandmaster Alfonso Romero Holmes convincingly wrapped up fIrst place with his victory over Swedish FM Bengt Hammar in the sixth and penultimate round of the landmark Magnificent Chess Foundation UWI Masters chess tournament being played in Kingston, Jamaica, the stage was set for an exciting finish as the Jamaican players staked a serious claim for the second and third prize bragging rights and cash prizes.

    After draws in his first two games and losing his third to GM Holmes, Jamaican Shane Matthews had two very good wins against Hammar and Barbadian FM Delisle Warner in rounds 5 and 6, respectively, to move to 3 points and second place. Rubbing shoulders with Shane, also on 3 points, is his countryman FM Warren Elliott whose pace has slowed after consecutive draws against Cuban IM Jose Vilela and the Jamaican FM Jomo Pitterson in his last two rounds.

    Pitterson is on 2.5 points and could still figure in the placings as he goes up against Vilela who is on 2 points. Hammar and Warner prop up the tables on 1.5 points each.

    The stage is set for a thrilling seventh and final round set to pawn off at 12 noon on Sunday 22nd March in the Assembly Hall at the University of the West Indies, Mona campus, Kingston, Jamaica as Elliott has the white pieces against Matthews. Who will prevail ? Your guess is as good as mine!

    Ian Wilkinson
    Chairman, Magnificent Chess Foundation

  16. Great work on your coverage, Sir.
    (Agree with your comment at #10.)

    Hope this is the start of something; and/or that with this tournament, that things can crystallise around events such as this one. Then, folk in the Diaspora can see progress.
    Perhaps it may become easier to attract rated players to the West Indies (the ambience) moreso as it becomes difficult for our players to travel out to gain experience/rating, etc
    Best wishes to Shane Matthews and the other players.

    Great coverage once again.

  17. Jomo Pitterson just told me there were about 400 players both the Master and Open event. This is ground-breaking news! Ian Wilkinson is a revolutionary!

    Ian Wilkinson, President of Magnificent Chess
    Photo by Mark Bowen.

  18. Great job Ian and the Magnificent organization. Why not travel to Jamacia to play? The weather is nice and the cost is no more than any other tournament that we fly to in the states. I don’t see hotel as a factor, because the average hotel in the States are about $100.00 per night at tournament sites. Looking forward to a FIDE event from Ian and company. Were there any norms made? I don’t see IM Adu name on the crosstable, did he play?

  19. Still waiting on the final round results and report.

    You’re right Glenn. Ian and I have been discussing this for some years now. Amon and I have played there… Amon played twice and won twice. We’ve also played in Trinidad. Several years ago, Muhammad asked me about going to Jamaica, but I believe hurricanes ended that idea. I believe Ian tried contacting Tate and Adu for this tournament.

    In my opinion, Jamaica can do what Bermuda and Curacao are doing with their FIDE tournaments. Jamaica has some redeeming qualities that can make it more attractive to strong players.

    The tournament could not award any norms because the average FIDE rating for the field was too low. In addition, you don’t have the required three GMs (for GM norms) or IMs (for IM norms). Lastly, the tournament was too short and there was more than one round played in a day.

  20. Hi All
    I am now catching up with the news on the chess after being out of it for a while. Congratulations to Ian and his team for adding this high level event to the Caribbean chess activities. Sorry the IM norms were not possible this year. Just focus on building the tournament so it can become a permanent fixture on the regional chess calendar and the norms will come in the future.

    Looking out for the final round results and report


    Spanish international chess Grandmaster Alfonso Romero Holmes justified his billing as the favourite by winning the Magnificent Chess-UWI Masters tournament that took place in Kingston, Jamaica from Monday 16th March to Sunday 22nd March, 2009. Holmes was unbeaten on 5.5/6 after defeating Barbadian FM Delisle Warner in the seventh and final round.

    Alfonso gave up a draw only in the second round to Cuban IM Jose Luis Vilela de Acuna who finished in fifth place on 2.5 points. The Cuban, although winless, had only one defeat in round four where he missed a win and paid the penalty against Warner who lost the most games (four!) and ended at the bottom of the standings on 1.5 points, the same as Swedish FM Bengt Hammar who had three draws and suffered three defeats.


    The Jamaican players performed very well to dominate the standings after GM Holmes. FM Warren Elliott and NM Shane Matthews drew their final round game to end on a plus score with 3.5 points each and tied for second place, while FM Jomo Pitterson drew with IM Vilela to finish clear fourth with an even score of 3 points. Interestingly, the Jamaicans only lost one game each and that was to the winner GM Holmes while all the Jamaicans defeated Warner!

    Shawn Wilkinson with winners FM Warren Elliott (2nd-3rd), GM Alfonso Romero-Holmes (1st), Shane “The Magician” Matthews (2nd-3rd). Ian Wilkinson, is the Jamaican Federation President and founder of Magnificent Chess.


    The event in Jamaica was obviously a success attracting a lot of attention in the print and electronic media and with a number of chess fans and players plus members of the public coming out to watch the games and interact with the players. In addition, the players from overseas were treated to a tour of several parishes in the island and enjoyed themselves particularly when they scaled the aesthetic and fantastic heights of the beautiful and soothing Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios, St. Ann on the rest day.

    All the players were very happy to have participated in the historic event and those from overseas expressed delight with the conditions and hoped to return to Jamaica (“paradise”!) to play again, especially the winner GM Holmes who said that “the champion must be invited to defend his title”!

    The tournament was staged by the Magnificent Chess Foundation and the University of the West Indies (UWI) Chess Society with sponsorship from General Accident Insurance Company Limited, Pulse Investments Limited, Supreme Ventures Limited, Guardian Life Insurance Company Limited and Subway.

    Ian Wilkinson
    Chairman, Magnificent Chess Foundation

  22. More games from Wilkinson, both involving FM Delisle Warner… and in both he overextended his pawns. The Matthews game is certainly more competitive.

    Warner played without any sense of danger in this game… h3 and g4 was met with a brutal treatment. Pitterson got a nice zugzwang after 33…Rf3!

  23. Ian is one of the brightest figures in the African Disapora and is a wonderful steward and international promoter of chess. He also organizes, plays, annotates, writes books and is an excellent ambassador and host. He also has a lovely wife who helps and supports him in chess! 🙂

    Get this book!

  24. International Masters Clash at UWI Chess Society /Magnificent Chess Tournament

    The UWI Chess Society in collaboration with the Magnificent Chess Foundation struck gold this past March, in successfully hosting the strongest and largest chess tournament Jamaica has ever seen. The tournament – “The Magnificent Chess UWI Open” saw the advancement of the quality of chess played within Jamaica featuring a highlighted Master’s section. Within this section GM Alfonso Romero Holmes (Spain), IM Jose Vilela (Cuba), FM Delisle Warner (Barbados), and FM Bengt Hammar (Sweden) went against three of Jamaica’s best, FM Warren Elliot, FM Jomo Pitterson and NM Shane Mathews. These masters exhibited a superior level of chess to over 400 budding players also participating within the Open, Intermediate, Beginners and Scholastic sections of the tournament, at the University of the West Indies Mona’s Assembly Hall.

    GM Holmes, finishing the tournament in grand fashion with no losses and a result of 5.5 games out of 6 after taking a draw against IM Jose Vilela, brought no surprise to the spectators of the event winning the Master’s Section. Locals FM Warren Elliot and NM Shane Mathews gave Jamaica a strong finish coming in second and third respectively with the same result of 3.5 points, separated based on tie break scores. Additionally, the Open, Intermediate, and Beginner sections were won by NM Russell Porter, Kenville Lockhart, and Trevor Bennett respectively.

    A major highlight of the event was the scholastic section in which over 200 school children battled with their minds. Hwananani Feledi, Kenville Lockhart and NM Brandon Wilson were the top University players in the Beginners, Intermediate and Open sections respectively. The event was sponsored by Guardian Life Limited, General Accident Insurance Company and Supreme Ventures Limited, all of whom clearly aspire towards building a brighter and smarter Jamaica.

    Story by Zachary Ramsey. Photos by Kenville Lockhart.

    L-R: FM Delisle Warner (Barbados), IM Vilela (Cuba), GM Alfonso Romero-Holmes (Spain), FM Bengt Hammar (Sweden), FM Jomo Pitterson (Jamaica), NM Shane Matthews (Jamaica), FM Warren Elliott (Jamaica)

    Shane Matthews of Jamaica battling Alfonso Romero Holmes of Spain

    The Scholastic section with over 200 school players.

  25. Thanks for posting the article, Dr. Shabbaz, I didnt know Mr. Wilkinson had sent out a report though.

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