The Favourite is in the Lead

The 2004 KRYS FINANCIAL SOFTWARE-sponsored 36th Jamaican national championship has continued to generate a lot of interest.

SECOND ROUND (29th February, 2004)
In second round action (both NM Robert Wheeler and Daren Wisdom had byes) Ras Malaku Lorne turned back Deborah Richards’ Queen’s Gambit Declined, winning in 41 moves. NM Russel Porter’s English Opening faced NM Mark Holness’ Dutch defence but Porter benefited from Holness’ inaccuracy (26…d5 ?) to grab the initiative, gradually wearing down the Montegonian and inducing further errors. When Holness resigned after Porter’s 34th move, mate was imminent.
The perennially-present Bertram Scott played well with the Black pieces but his Sicilian perished agaist NM Duane Rowe after Scott missed the potentially winning 27…Qf2 !, when both Scott’s rook and queen would have invaded Rowe’s second rank, setting White unpleasant problems.
In the feature clash, FM Warren Elliott’s talisman continued to work wonders. Entering the rook ending  a pawn down and with his back against the wall, Elliott, who had earlier chosen the Sicilian Dragon, snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against NM Shane Matthews whose wretched run against Jamaica’s new number one continued.
THIRD ROUND (6th March, 2004)
Both Elliott and Porter had byes and were curious spectators. Bertram Scott and NM Wheeler took a day off agreeing to a draw after just twelve moves in a placid Caro-Kann. Deborah Richards got on the board as NM Rowe tried valiantly to break down her English opening but could not in the ensuing rook ending and after 53 moves a peace treaty was signed.
Daren Wisdom faced Lorne’s Caro-Kann and missed several winning continuations (27.Nc4!+-, 32.Kg2 !+- and 33.Kh2 !+-) allowing Lorne to liquidate into a drawn queen ending.
NM Matthews, the seven-time national champion, won his first game of the tournament using the Queen’s Indian defence to outclass Holness.

NM Duane Rowe vs Deborah Richards

FOURTH ROUND (7th March, 2004)
On Sunday, 7th March, 2004 there were some hardfought games. With Matthews and Lorne having byes, Richards continued to show improved form, holding the veteran Wheeler to a draw with the Black pieces in an offbeat Sicilian. Indeed, Richards, who had earlier won the exchange, could have played for a win with 36….Qc8+-+ with the poisonous threat of 37…Qc2 when Wheeler would have been walking a tightrope. She, however, continued 37…Nd7?! when the shrewd Wheeler neutralized any threats and the truce was agreed after his 38th move.
NM Porter, Richards’ coach and mentor, easily used his English opening to dispatch Scott after the latter blundered (19…Bxf6??) and lost a piece after the riposte 20.Bxc6!+-. NM Rowe faced his “student” and training partner, candidate master Wisdom, and both engaged in a King’s pawn opening slugfest before Wisdom’s final mistake resulted in Rowe serving up mate on a beautiful platter with 29.Ng6#. In the final game of the round, Elliott continued his dominance over Holness’ French Defence winning on his 47th move when Holness was about to suffer further haemorrhaging.
Elliott the favourite leads with 3/3 followed by Rowe 2.5/3, Lorne and Porter 2/3 each, Wheeler and Wisdom 1.5/3, Matthews 1.0/2, Scott 1/3, Richards 1.0/4 and Holness bringing up the rear with 0.5/4. In the fifth round, scheduled for Saturday 13th March, 2004, Elliott and Holness have byes, Scott has white against Matthews, Wisdom has white against Wheeler, Lorne has white against Rowe and in the most interesting match-up Richards has white against her coach Porter.
It is obvious that the players want to do well bearing in mind that the top six players in the tournament will qualify to represent Jamaica at the 36th Chess Olympiad scheduled to be held in Mallorca in October, 2004.
The FIDE (Olympiad) time control (90 minutes to complete with an increment of thirty seconds per move from move one) is being used.
The tournament director is one of the JCF vice-presidents, Markland Douglas. All games begin at 2 pm local time.

Ian Wilkinson, President, Jamaica Chess Federation 12th March, 2004