Jamaica Jamaica Jamaica
Jamaican Clash! Rowe vs. Matthews

Jamaican Clash!  Rowe vs. Matthews

Pre-game analysis: In the final round of the 35th Jamaican Championship, this game carries immense importance in more ways than one.  NM Shane Matthews (Jamaica's #1 player) is defending his title; NM Duane Rowe has played well and would like to win to honor the memory of his father; there is the possibility of a three-way tie if Malaku Lorne beats Pitterson. This may create the biggest stir in the Caribbean in quite some time.  Lorne's coach John Tobisch is perhaps the most excited person in Jamaica. JCF President Ian Wilkinson gives his pregame comments:

"Will they reprise their exciting Sicilian clash in the 2002 championships where Shane weathered Rowe's withering kingside attack by giving up his queen for two pieces and prevailed? Rowe, like the great Martin Luther King, has a "dream" and desperately wants to win to dedicate victory to his father who passed away on the 16th August, 2003. As Caesar said "iacta alea est" - the die is cast!!"

The two may repeat the same opening as Rowe will most likely play 1.e4 and will probably face Matthews' Sicilian Najdorf. Perhaps there will be a surprise since both will have studied last year's encounter extensively. Given the sentimental importance of the game, it will be interesting to see how the two players will come out of the opening. This game may be a more restrained affair than in last year's wild encounter… a Rowe-Matthews draw would not be inconceivable. In the event of deadlock, FIDE Rule 9.13(c) states that there will be a six-game playoff to be held within 30 days of today's match… despite better tiebreaks for Rowe.


Post-game analysis: What a thrilling ending!! National Masters Duane Rowe and Shane Matthews put on an entertaining show for Jamaican public as both showed grit, determination and courage. In what would become a game of near misses, Matthews' poise won out in the end. There was a bit of tension at the beginning of the match when Rowe did not show up at the start of the round. There were reports of lightening and heavy rain in Kingston and speculation that he may have been delayed. Rowe finally arrived 27 minutes late after which JCF President Ian Wilkinson wondered if it was a "time gambit."

The game naturally opened up with 1.e4 after which Matthews transposed into the Najdorf against 6.f4. Matthews demonstrated his comfort with these positions as he developed queenside play with 12…b4! 13.Nce2 Nc5! White's position soon came under pressure on both sides of the board and Black won a pawn after 17…Bxh4.  However, Rowe was allowed to muddy the waters with an enterprising knight sacrifice 19.Nxh5!? The game then exploded and moves were being made with a quickness. In intense time pressure, Rowe charged ahead with his heavy pieces and apparently missed mate in two! Matthews did not give a second chance, consolidated his extra piece, and wrapped up the point.

In the other important matchup, Malaku Lorne and Jomo Pitterson agreed to draw. As a result,  they took 3rd and 4th places, respectively. Both Rowe and Matthews are to be commended for giving their fighting spirit and delighting a bustling Jamaican crowd. Matthews wins a record 7th National Championship.
Congratulations to National Master Shane Matthews and the Jamaican Chess Federation for a thrilling tournament!

See "Rowe & Matthews play for the Jamaican Crown!"

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