Jamaican Championship moves to 9-round Swiss format!

This report was written by Bert Scott from the Jamaican Ambassadors Chess Academy.

I, NOSCHESSDAMUS, a direct descendant of the great prophet, Nostradamus, peeked into the murky future of chess and foresee the following:

Following the lead of the US Chess Federation (USCF), the Jamaica Chess Federation (JCF) has decided to change the format of the 2002 34th Jamaica National Chess Championship from its traditional closed Round Robin to a 9 Round Swiss Invitational.

The 34th Nationals, scheduled to begin on Saturday, July 27 through Sunday, August 4, will be played at the
Norman Manley Law School, and is targeting a field of 24 players. The proposed schedule is for two games per day, 9:00 AM and 2:00 PM.

Schedule for 2002 Jamaican Championship

Similar to the recently concluded 2001/2002 US Championship, the 9 Round Swiss format is designed to expose more players to the experience of playing at the national level, and especially promising Junior players. Players will still have to meet the criteria of a minimum rating of 1800, and must have played 18 games from November 21, 2001 - June 21, 2002.

The expansion of the
US Championship has led to Jamaican born African-American Grandmaster, Maurice Ashley qualifying for the 2002/2003 US Championship. GM Ashley is the first player of African descent to achieve such an honor, and is also the first and only chess Grandmaster of African descent, to date.

The convenience of a shorter national championship, rather than the month-long closed round robin, is also said to be attractive to many strong Jamaican players residing abroad like National Master
Devlin Sinclair (New York), National Master Abiodun Nelson (England), and 2001 Schoolgirl champion, Kiweda Davis presently in college in Pennsylvania.

FM Warren Elliott, 2-time Defending Champion

FM Warren Elliott
2-time Defending Champion

These players are quite capable of competing for a place on the Jamaica Olympiad men and women teams to the 35th Olympiad in Slovenia next November. The first 6 finishers in the nationals (men and women) are automatic selection for the Jamaica Olympiad teams. At the 34th Olympiad in Istanbul, Turkey, October, 2001, Jamaica finished a disappointing 102nd of 130 nations.

To assist players to comply with the minimum 18 games requirement, the JCF is considering having weekend qualifying Swiss tournaments beginning as early as, reportedly, this weekend. The defending Jamaica chess champion is FIDE Master
Warren Elliott.

Editor's note: Technically Slim Bouaziz of Tunisia and Hichem Hamdouchi of Morocco are the first two players of African descent to achieve the GM title, but of course Maurice would be the first Black person to achieve the title.

Posted by The Chess Drum: 24 April  2002