senior chess championships in italy


Cm Robert Wheeler(L) facing Mike Dalley from Ireland.



When the dust settled on today’s eighth round of the 25th World Senior Chess Championships being held in Acqui Terme, Italy (November 9-22, 2015) Jamaica was unscathed, emerging victorious in one of the matches played and drawing the other.

In the 65 years old and over section CM Robert Wheeler, Jamaica’s reigning Seniors Chess Champion, drew with the white pieces against Ireland’s Patrick Daly who uncorked the Dutch defence to surprise his opponent. Apparently, as Wheeler earlier mused, Daly had “the luck of the Irish”! Wheeler will have the black pieces in tomorrow’s 9th round against Norway’s Erland Henrichsen.

Jamaica Chess Federation (“JCF”) President and reigning Jamaica Veterans Champion, Ian Wilkinson QC, had another five-hour long game (his 5th of the event!!) - this time against the higher rated Brazilian Roberto Cassio Sopko. At 3 pm when the clocks were started Wilkinson essayed 1.e4 and the Petroff/Russian defence was deployed by the man from Pele’s country. The Jamaican opted for the Nimzowitsch variation (after 5.Nc3) and a wild game ensued with opposite-side castling and the Brazilian seizing the initiative.


Jamaica Chess Federation reigning Jamaica Veterans Champion, Ian Wilkinson
(L) shakes hands with Brazilian Roberto Cassio.

At the first time control (move 40), the Brazilian was a pawn up in a queen-pawn ending. He continued to rain body blow after body blow upon the Jamaican who, although battered and bruised, employed the “rope a dope” a la Muhammad Ali and some Floyd Mayweather “escapology” tactics.Both players, with the clocks running down, exchanged blunders as rapt spectators gathered to watch the enthralling encounter unfolding on the chess battlefield.

As the undertakers were being called in and the “phat lady” was clearing her throat to sing to the high heavens, the Jamaican was “fortified” by his alma mater’s hallowed motto fortis cadere cedere non potest (“the brave may fall but never yield”!) and fought even harder. A miracle happened as the Jamaican’s prayers were answered.

Sopko missed a win (failing to exchange queens at the appropriate moment) and then offered an ill-advised queen exchange. Wilkinson displayed true Jamaican hospitality, embraced the opposing queen with ultra-warm open arms and both regal ladies left the chessic battlefield. Thereafter his c-pawn headed for touchdown in the style of the Patriots (no “deflate gate” around here!) and the amiable and gracious Brazilian, a truly worthy adversary, resigned at 8:00 pm, after 79 moves! In tomorrow’s 9th round Wilkinson, now ranked ten places above his starting position, will have the black pieces against the higher rated Norwegian Terje Melkeraaen.

The championships are being staged by the Italian Chess Federation (Federazione Scacchistica Italiana) in association with FIDE and will be held over eleven rounds at a time control of forty moves in ninety minutes with thirty minutes to complete the game. There are increments of thirty seconds per move from the first move.The respective winners will be awarded the title of International Chess Grandmaster.

The games start at 3:00 pm local time (Italy is six hours ahead of Jamaica) except for the final round on November 22 which will start earlier at 2:00 pm to facilitate the closing ceremony.

Over three hundred players from more than fifty (50) countries are participating in the event. This is the first time that Jamaica is being represented in this prestigious tournament, another sports landmark for the country.

Jamaica’sparticipation was made possible by sponsorship from the Sports Development Foundation (“Developing the Nation through Sports”), Supreme Ventures Limited(“Gamespeople love to play…and more”), General Accident Insurance Company Limited, Kasparov Chess Foundation, the JCF and the Magnificent Chess Foundation(“Building a nation of thinkers”).


Jamaica Chess Federation
2015 November 18

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