Jamaica’s WIM Deborah Richards-Porter played fantastic Chess, winning three of her last four games to end on a bang at the Women’s Zonals in El Salvador. Her final score of 5½ points was good enough for 4th position, 5 places ahead of her starting rank. She narrowly missed qualifying for the Women’s World Championship by a mere half point behind the winner Puerto Rican WIM Danitzka Vazquez with whom Richards-Porter drew in the 4th round.
Entering the ninth and final round on November 22, Richards-Porter was in ninth position on 4½ points from 8 games. She had the daunting task of facing the unbeaten joint leader Colombian International Master Paula Rodriguez who, at 2326 rating points, was by far the top seed and favourite in the event, rated over three hundred (300!!) points ahead of the Jamaican (2025). That did not matter as Richards-Porter wielded the black pieces with decisive effect to shatter the Colombian’s unbeaten record, claim full honours and finish her tournament with a landmark victory.
The Zonals was a qualifier for the 2018 Women’s World Chess Championship set to be held in Khanty-Mansiysk (Siberia) Russia. It was held from November 17 to 22, 2017. Twenty-two women competed from eight countries – Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Jamaica, Mexico and Puerto Rico. Richards-Porter was the only player from the English-speaking Caribbean.
The time control for each game was ninety minutes for forty moves with thirty minutes to complete. There was an increment of thirty seconds per move from the first move.
WIM Richards-Porter is etched in Jamaica’s sports folklore as the best female chess player in her country’s history and, arguably, in the West Indies. She has represented her country with distinction at six (6) World Chess Olympiads from Bled, Slovenia (2002) to Baku, Azerbaijan (2016).
She made history at the 37th Olympiad (Turin, Italy 2006) by earning the Woman FIDE Master (“WFM”) title. At the Women’s Sub-Zonals in Surinam 2014 she earned the “WIM” title. She was the first person in the English-speaking Caribbean to gain these titles.
She is Jamaica’s ten-time Women’s Chess Champion and created more history by winning the Sub-Zonals Women’s Championship (Barbados, 2016). She also led Jamaica’s Women’s team to win the gold medal for its category at the 39th Olympiad (Khanty-Mansiysk, Siberia, Russia, 2010).
Richards-Porter’s participation was made possible by sponsors the Confederation of Chess For the Americas, the Jamaica Chess Federation, the Kasparov Chess Foundation and R&D Chess Academy. She returns to Jamaica on Saturday evening, November 25, 2017.
Ian G. Wilkinson QC
Jamaica Chess Federation
November 23, 2017