2013 CARIFTA Juniors (Jamaica)

Jamaica Jamaica Jamaica

Jamaican Chess Federation President Ian Wilkinson has announced the hosting of the 2013 CARIFTA Championships to be held on the island of “wood and water”. The tournament will begin this evening and will feature the top juniors from the region. Wilkinson excitedly told The Chess Drum that juniors from Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago and the US Virgin Islands have committed to compete. This is the second CARIFTA tournament held and it features the age groups under-20, under-16 and under-12. The first was held in Trinidad and Tobago.

Full details: https://chessjamaica.com/


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  2. The 2013 CARIFTA Junior Chess Championship

    Jamaica, the sprint capital of the world, will host the 2nd CARIFTA Junior Chess Championships at The Jamaica Conference Centre, April 2 – 6. This Five (5) day chess festival brings the best junior chess players across the length and breadth of the region, for seven (7) grueling rounds of competitive games. The Championship is a Swiss format and each player will be vying for top honours in the respective age groups.

    Fresh off the conclusion of the Candidates matches, the popularity of chess is probably at an all-time high. Perhaps no other sport represents what CARICOM truly symbolizes – the input of unique ingredients and energies resulting in clear leadership all in one community, or melting pot.

    The marquee section, Under 20, is expected to be keenly contested. Carrying the hopes of the nation is the defending Under 20 Champion, NM Stuart James. The former Wolmerian has fond memories of his exploits in Barbados. He beamed when he recalled hoisting the trophy, and openly laughed when he saw a video of the trophy presentation; NM James, the proud Jamaican, gave a tribute to Usain Bolt with his trademark “To Di Worl’” gesture to a huge ovation and a bellyful of laughter. He does not expect this year’s staging to go “smoothly”, but if he can replicate the form he demonstrated in 2012, Jamaica stands well to get another gold.

    Standing in his way is the FM-slaying Shreyas Smith (JAM), FM William van Rensselaer (USVI) described by many as a prodigy and Jamaica’s Junior Blitz Champion Horace Reid. Smith’s name is revered in the junior circles after his defeat of the legendary “magician” FM Shane Matthews and his overall play at 16. NM Malaku Ras Lorne said it was too close to call a champion but will do so after round 4. Yu Tien Poon (BAR) and Joshua Johnson (TRI) are heavy favourites to win the U-16 Section but will be hunted by Jamaica’s Allistair Walker and newest sensation Rachel Miller (JAM).

    After all is said and done, it will be 64 squares that separate the players – mind over matter – they mind, you matter. It may not be the strongest man who wins the battle, but the one who prepares. May all players show such preparations to the glory and honour of their respective countries, parents and coaches.

    Special thanks must be made to Burger King, MAGChess, SDF, Touchline Industries and From Thought to Finish for sponsoring this marquee event.

    The JCF will provide daily updates of the 2013 Junior Chess Championships with daily news, NM commentary, photo reports and exclusive reports.

    ~ Contributed by Raglon G. Wynter

  3. The Opening Ceremony

    The opening ceremony of the 2nd CARIFTA Junior Chess Championship was a gala affair and attracted over 600 persons from six (6) Caribbean countries. The event was held at The Jamaica Conference Centre in the nation’s capital, Kingston with the picturesque Harbour providing a warm ambiance.

    Paula Ann Porter-Jones

    Draped in black, green and gold, the Conference Centre was transformed into a vivacious hotspot, alive with excitement and anticipation. Coaches, delegates, parents and spectators congregated for the opening exercise. The buzz surrounding the ceremony was evident and the crescendo was fever-pitched when the evening’s MC, Paula Ann Porter-Jones, officially welcomed the frenzied patrons.

    The Jamaican motto was aptly portrayed when the CBA gave patrons a taste of their culture with acts such as the ribbon dance. Mouths were opened, eyes affixed and jaws dropped when the “dragon dance” was demonstrated while others were completely in awe when the Ardenne contingent gave a beautiful rendition of a popular song. A seemingly irritated teenager shook her head. When pressed on the matter, she remarked that there was now no way her school would win TVJ’s “All Together Sing” next year. The speakers beamed with delight and the congo drums roared with might as a Jamaican roots dance was unveiled much to the wonder of the patrons. Shouts of ‘encore’ were hurled at the stage but were overlooked due to time constraints.

    The “Ribbon Dance”

    The “Dragon Dance”

    Ian Wilkinson QC, imploring heads of states and parents to see chess as the ultimate tool to achieve upward socio-economic mobility.

    The six (6) Caribbean states in attendance were Trinidad and Tobago, USVI, Bahamas, Barbados, Aruba and the host country Jamaica and all were invited to partake in the dress parade on stage. Hon. Lisa Hanna, Jamaica’s Youth and Culture Minister also offered welcome and gave her take on chess with a unique overlay of her personal experience of karate. Virtues of ‘discipline, strength, honour and camaraderie’ were lauded.

    Lisa Hanna, Minister of Youth and Culture recalling her chess and karate exploits.

    Ian Wilkinson QC, imploring heads of states and parents to see chess as the ultimate tool to achieve upward socio-economic mobility.

    JCF President Mr. Ian Wilkinson, QC identified chess as the true platform for socio-economic and personal growth and championed the represented states to stress this in their local states. The Hon. Neita Headley, Minister without Portfolio with responsibility for sport in the Office of the Prime Minister, acquiesced and promised to ensure that chess will play a pivotal role going forward in transforming Jamaica positively.

    Michael Frater and Warren Weir made a cameo appearance. The duo, gold and bronze medalists from the 2012 London Olympics are recreational chess players. If ever they could beat Usian Bolt, this was the medium.

    Jamaica’s track stars Michael Frater (left) and Warren Weir (right) showed their support of the CARIFTA Chess Championship

    With the stage set for the start of the 7 round tourney, Senor Jorge Vega, President for the Confederation of Chess in the Americas Headley, in a loud and cheerful voice officially declared the Championships open and wished all competitors the best of luck.

    Hon. Lisa Hanna, Minister of Youth and Culture playing a game of chess with a beaming chess junior. Jorge Vega looks on.

    Jamaican competitors!

    This would not have been possible if not for MAGCHESS, Burger King, MAGChess, SDF, Touchline Industries and From Thought to Finish for sponsoring this marquee event.

    For your daily dose of updates, please follow visit the JCF website.

    ~ Contributed by Raglon G. Wynter

  4. Standings After the Half-Way Stage

    There is a heat-wave affecting Jamaica and it is not from a weather system. The meteorological office has confirmed this. The rise in temperature is as a result of the Chess Championships in Downtown Kingston. The FM-slayer Shreyas Smith made his intentions boldly known when he dispatched countryman and defending U-20 champion NM James in convincing fashion.

    Smith, known for his chess exploits, displayed tremendous technique in converting an advantage from the opening. The Sicilian, the double-edged opening of choice for NM James, proved too sharp for him and when Smith castled and completed development, the stage was set. Smith expertly opened the position for his light-squared bishop and squeezed the centre with his queen’s knight; Tru Juice would have been proud. NM James, in much discomfort, bobbed and weaved for eternity and since he was underdeveloped and low on time, eventually gave up the ghost.

    The upset of the tourney so far must be Clifford Roderick’s (JAM) impressive guillotining of FM William van Rensselaer (USVI). FM van Rensselaer, who recently attained his title at the 2012 Olympiad in Turkey, must have fancied his chances, especially as white, and opened with his battle-tested Colle System. Roderick responded astutely and remained solid, and as soon as he equalized put the FIDE Master in a series of pins, reminiscent of shopping in a haberdashery store. Roderick calmly increased his advantages, exchanged and got the full point.

    Allistair Walker (JAM) must have counted his lucky stars as he pulled off the great escape. In his game versus Joshua Johnson (TRI), he snatched a pawn that resulted in the loss of a piece. Johnson correctly proved that the pawn should not have been taken and was now up the piece. Johnson looked set to win especially seeing that Walker has less than a minute on his clock. Johnson then snatched defeat from the jaws of victory as in the space of 7 minutes himself dropped 2 pieces! Walker, rook and knight vs rook pressed home and Johnson soon resigned when his opponent promoted a pawn. Each turn of the game was reported to the eager spectators with many wringing their hands unable to sit still until the game was over.

    Roderick now leads the U-20 Section with 3 points after 4 rounds of exciting play with Smith, Damani Reid (JAM), NM James and FM van Rensselaer all tied on 2.5. Walker leads the U-16 section with 3 points with rising female star Rachel Miller (JAM), Tien Yu Poon (BAR) and Joshua Johnson (TRI) all tied on 3 points each, while the U-12 Section is headed by David Christie (JAM) who is on 3 points and is joined by Leighton Barrett (JAM), Jordan McKoy (JAM) and Brian Diaz (ARU) all on 3.

    If today is an indication of what is to come, tomorrow promises to be an exciting affair as the leaders are paired against each other across the top 3 boards in each section.

    Follow us for daily updates and exclusive interviews with coaches and other pundits on the JCF website.

    ~ Contributed by Raglon G. Wynter

  5. Standings Heading Into Final Round

    The Richter Scale shook violently after play concluded in rounds 5 and 6 with the after-shock still being felt. The FM-slayer Shreyas Smith (JAM) was left standing alone at the podium with one round to go. Smith continued his impressive run of form when he defeated Roderick Clifford (JAM) with the black pieces. When Clifford unleashed 1. e4 Smith sharpened his blade and employed the ultra-sharp Sicilian. Clifford sidestepped this sharp position and played Bb5. Smith, being very familiar with the Rossolimo Variation, smiled and whipped off a series of moves. Entering the middle game, it was Smith who has a small plus. He displayed good technique and brought home the bacon. Horace Sinclair (JAM) defeated Orlando Husbands (BAR) in Round 5, setting up a clash on Board 1 in Round 6 with Smith.

    Sinclair replied to Smith’s customary 1. e4 with …1 d5 – the Scandinavian Defence – with great confidence. Smith, who plays against this system quite frequently, got a much better position out of the opening and entered the middle game with a nice attack – not even silk was this smooth. When the clock showed 30 seconds for Sinclair, it was clear who was better. Smith had enormous pressure on the g-file with his rook and queen while cutting off the d-file with his dark-squared Bishop planted on d6. Sinclair passively defended g7 and gave checks with his lone active piece, the rook, whenever possible. Smith valiantly tried to open the position up by sacrificing his rook but Sinclair stubbornly, yet correctly, defended. The peace treaty was signed soon thereafter.

    Nathan Hinds (JAM) defeated FM William van Rensselaer (USVI) to the delight of his compatriots. Ironically, Bob Marley’s hit single “One Love” was being played in the distance, but the FIDE Master has experienced anything but love during this tournament.

    The final round promises to be entertaining with Jamaica virtually assured of the gold medal for the U-20 Section. Shreyas Smith leads with 5 points while Nathan Hinds, Horace Sinclair, Andrew Ellis and Roderick Clifford are hot on the trail with 4 ½ points. Round 7 will see 6 Jamaicans pitted against each other on the top 3 boards; 1. Nathan Hinds vs Shreyas Smith, 2. Horace Sinclair vs Andrew Ellis, 3. Roderick Clifford vs Michael Antoine. FM William van Rensselaer (USVI) and Orlando Husbands (BAR) play on board 4.

    The action heats up in the U-16 Section as the leaders are neck-and-neck head. The favourites play each other on Board 1. Joshua Johnson (TRI) vs Tien Yu Poon (BAR) while Allon Richards (BAR) battles Allistair Walker (JAM) on Board 2. It will be an all-Jamaican affair on Boards 3 and 4 when Nathan Belafonte plays Romell Gyles and rising star Rachel Miller takes on childhood friend Elias Issa.

    In the U-12 Section, Brian Diaz (ARU) takes a half point lead into the final round and faces Kyle Sandiford (BAR) who is on 5 points on Board 1, while the battle of the brothers takes place on Board 2 with Joshua vs David Christie – winner gets control over the playstation at home. Board 3 sees Jaleel Thorpe (JAM) vs Rmeze Thorpe (JAM).

    The U-12 Female Section sees Jamaicans Rochelle Porter (5 ½) vs Ashley-Kenee Gregory (5) on Board 1. Board 2 sees Gabrielle Simpson (JAM) vs Dela-Marie Walcott (TRI) while on Board 3, another all-Jamaican affair takes place with Kimberly Bartlett vs Adani Clarke.

    Many thanks to the sponsors: Burger King, From Thought to Finish, MAGChess, SDF and Touchline Industries.

    Look out for daily updates on the Chess Championships. There will also be exclusive interviews with the winners of each section.

    ~ Contributed by Raglon G. Wynter

  6. Hate to sound harsh, but FIDE needs to make the requirements of titles congruent. If you can get a FM title without fulfilling the standard requirements of 2300, it dilutes the prestige of the honor. Van Rensselaer perhaps has talent, but it is hard to tell with his 7/10 score at Olympiad with a performance rating of 1773. Certainly he has not played enough games to even get a true measure of his strength (FIDE 1941, age 18 this year).

  7. JAMAICANS dominate the 2013 CARIFTA Junior Chess Championship

    “Gladly!” The single response given by Shreyas “the FM-slayer” Smith who won the U-20 title in the 2013 CARIFTA Junior Chess Championships which concluded with a bang in Kingston, Jamaica on Monday April 8. The Championship, held at the Jamaica Conference Centre, was a five-day chess festival consisting of 7 rounds in a Swiss format.

    Many may not appreciate his response, but this quiet and unassuming Calabarian always fancied his chances of finishing numero uno. After meandering through 6 rounds of gruelling play, Smith ended with 5 ½ points after his last round draw with Nathan Hinds (JAM). Horace Sinclair (JAM) also ended the Championship on 5 ½ points but finished in second place after tie-breaks.

    Smith, easily the best player at the Championship, played solidly, and after mass exchanges carefully managed the imbalances. He demonstrated his end game prowess, went up an exchange and carefully extinguished counterplay. Up the exchange, he weathered his opponent’s pesky knight and troublesome passed pawns and after relieving Hinds of said pawns, Hinds threw in the towel – a draw – a very fair result. Sinclair ensured a Jamaica 1-2 finish after he, with the white pieces won, against Andrew Ellis (JAM). Orlando Husbands (BAR) took home the bronze. Defending champion NM Stuart James (JAM) finished a disappointing eighth.

    Yu Tien Poon (BAR) captured the U-16 Section with Jamaicans Alistair Waker and Romell Gyles claiming the silver and bronze respectively. Walker, who has dominated local scholastic chess, was thrilled with his performance. National Master (NM) Mikhail Solomon, his coach, attributed Walker’s placing to “many hours of hard work and, of course, MY tutelage”. While the jury may be out concerning Solomon’s second reason, there is no denying Walker’s steady ascent in the chess arena. Jamaica’s newest rising star Rachel Miller finished a creditable fifth on tie-breaks after registering a last round victory over Elias Issa (JAM). Miller, coached by FIDE Master (FM) Warren Elliott, showed much ability beyond her years.

    It was a keenly contested affair in the U-12 Section with the top three players all tied on 6 points. Brian Diaz (ARU) claimed the gold medal on tie-breaks with silver and bronze going to Jamaicans Jaleel Thorpe and Joshua Christie, respectively. In the U-12 Female Section, Della-Marie Walcott (T&T) wrested the gold medal from Ashley-Renee Gregory (JAM) after both finished with 6 points. Rochelle Porter (JAM), coached by her parents, the chess couple NM Russell Porter and his wife Woman FIDE Master (WFM) Deborah Richards-Porter, got the bronze medal.

    Jamaica, by virtue of inspired performances by many players, won the “best team” category with a whopping 211 points, lifting the CARIFTA trophy in the process. Barbados finished second on 40 points and Trinidad and Tobago third on 28. In fact, Jamaica captured 44 of the 57 places up for grabs in the Championships!

    The CARIFTA Junior Chess Championships, following closely on the heels of the CARIFTA Track and Field and Swim Championships, reinforced Jamaica’s place as the sports factory of the region.

    The Jamaican Chess Federation (JCF), on behalf of all the players and administrators local and from abroad, wishes to thank the sponsors without whom this tournament would not have been possible: the Government of Jamaica (especially the Hon. Natalie Neita-Headley, Minister without Portfolio In the Office of the Prime Minister with Responsibility for Sports); the Sports Development Foundation; the Urban Development Corporation; the Magnificent Chess Foundation; From Thought to Finish; Touchline Industries; Burger King; Knutsford Court Hotel; DesignCopi-Centre; and Pulse. The JCF is also indebted to all the volunteers whose contribution was priceless.

    Look out for the upcoming tournaments including the National Championships (April 26-May 12) and the President’s Invitational and the Robert Wheeler Open (May 25-26).

    Follow us for daily updates, sound bytes and exclusive interviews. Look out for our special “Games of the Round” feature where expert analysis will be given on particular games.

    ~ Contributed by Raglon G. Wynter

  8. Please note that Rachel Miller who came fifth in the U-16 Absolute Section also came First in the U-16 Female Category for the 2013 Carifta Junior Chess Championship and was awarded the First Place Gold CARIFTA Award for that category.
    She also placed First in the U-14 Female Category and was awarded the First place medal for that category.

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