FM Warren Elliott is considered one of the “veterans” of this year’s Jamaican National Championships despite the fact that many of the veteran masters IM Jomo Pitterson, FM Shane Matthews and CM Duane Rowe were not present. Defending national champion Andrew Mellace was set to defend his crown and three-time national champion Damion Davy wanted to put his stamp of authority on the scene. There was even a bit of banter on a Facebook groups about this looming battle.
The Sponsors of the event included Title Sponsors Digicel (chief sponsor), Christar Villas Hotel, Jamaica Olympic Association and Magnificent Chess Foundation”.
This tournament featured 12 players of national repute including Ian Wilkinson, Jamaica’s federation President and several past and present national champions (Elliott, Davy, current national champion Mellace and Russel Porter), past and present Olympiad players (Malaku Lorne, Daren Wisdom, Brandon Wilson, Peter Myers). There was one woman competing but her name was not 10-time champion Deborah Richards-Porter. National women’s player Melisha Smith was the sole female representative and was looking to make a respectable showing. Junior champion Sheryas Smith was also sharpening his machete for some master scalps. Young upstart and debutante Kevron Campbell was also on the prowl for ELO gain.
There were no clean sheets in the first four rounds before the marquee matchup of Elliott-Davy. The game was a positional Guioco Piano with Elliott showing his ill-intentions with 13.g4?! This was looked to be a dubious idea since black could have improved his position. However, Davy threw caution to the wind and played 17…f5?! instead of 17…g6. He must’ve missed white’s shot after 18. exf5 Bd5 (diagram) 19. Qxd5+! Qxd5 20. Bb3. This gave white a lasting initiative which he duly converted.
Elliott bore down creating nasty mating patterns and black was unable to stave off the attack. With his main competitor out of the way, Elliott continued his rampage through the field for a scorching 10½/11. This is Elliott’s seventh national crown winning in 2000, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2010 and 2015. He has tied the record of seven wins held by the legendary FM Shane Matthews and has done so in only nine appearances.
There were other outstanding performances such as Davy’s 9½/11 with his only loss being to Elliott and a draw with Wisdom. In a battle for second place, Davy beat Lorne who ended in third position on 8/11. Smith and Wilson came in the fourth position on 7/11 while defending champion Mellace ended a bit above par on 6/11.
At the half-way stage of the 2015 Digicel Absolute Jamaica Chess Championships, six-time Jamaican Champion FM Warren Elliott leads the list of twelve players with a commanding 5 ½ points from six games. Elliott has given up only one draw and that was to CM Brandon Wilson in the first round.
CM Ras Malaku Lorne holds down second place with 5/6 while three-time national champion FM Damion Davy is third on 4/6. Elliott is trying to match FM Shane Matthews’ record seven national titles and made a major step towards this goal with a convincing defeat of Davy in a crucial round five encounter.
The remaining places are occupied by reigning junior champion Shreyas Smith and Wilson (4/6 each); reigning champion NM Andrew Mellace (3.5/6); CM Russel Porter (3/6); Kevron Campbell and Jamaican Chess Federation President, Ian G. Wilkinson QC (2/6 each); WCM Melisha Smith, the sole female in the event, and NM Daren Wisdom (1/6 each) and JCF Vice-President NM Peter Myers (1/2).
In the seventh round set for 5 pm on Wednesday, January 28 at the Christar Villas Hotel, Wilkinson tackles Elliott; Lorne will face Porter; Shreyas Smith squares off against Davy; Mellace matches wits with Wilson; Campbell battles WCM Melisha Smith and Myers faces Wisdom.
The tournament has added intrigue as there are special cash prizes for the best game, brilliancy and the hardest fought game.
The event is sponsored by DIGICEL (chief sponsor), the Jamaica Olympic Association, Christar Villas Hotel and the Magnificent Chess Foundation.
Friday, the 16th January, 2015 will be remembered forever in the annals of Jamaica’s sports history. On the occasion of Jamaica’s Annual Sportswoman and Sportsman of the Year awards at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel on a beautiful Kingston evening, further indelible memories were created.
This was a night when the fantastic world record swimmer Alia Atkinson won the Sportswoman of the year award remarking in her acceptance speech that Jamaica now had the fastest people “on land and in the water”! Dahlia Harris, a popular media personality and one of the masters of ceremony for the evening, quipped that the air was next!
It was a night when boxer Nicholas “The Axeman” Walters, the World Boxing Association Featherweight Champion, won the Sportsman of the year award for his great exploits in the ring including being credited with the knock-out of the year by Fightnews.com.
It was a night when Donald “Don Q” Quarrie, the magnificent sprinter, many-time gold medallist at the Olympics, Commonwealth and Pan-American Games and forerunner to Usain Bolt, was given the “Iconic Award” for his sterling contribution to Jamaica’s rich sporting legacy.
In spite of all of the above, and the riveting acceptance speeches by the winners, what sent thrills down my spine was the mention of “Chess” for the first time as a category award. This, of course, delighted many, especially those in the chess fraternity.
The awards commenced in 1961 prior to Jamaica’s independence and after fifty-four (54) long years Chess, once the game of kings but now the “king of games”, took a quantum leap forward in Jamaica. On this landmark night, two of its best regional exponents, WIM Deborah Richards-Porter and FM Damion Davy strode forward proudly to accept the “maiden” awards for female chess player of the year and male chess player of the year, respectively, from recording artiste Orville “Shaggy” Burrell.
The RJR Sports Foundation and the members of the Selection Committee responsible for the historic decision to include Chess in the Jamaica’s chief annual sports awards must be applauded. To paraphrase Cuba Gooding Jr. in Jerry McGuire – you certainly took some time but to your credit you eventually came around!
The founding fathers of the Jamaica Chess Federation (“JCF”), pioneers such as Enos Grant, John Powell and William Roper, all of blessed memory, and Frederick Cameron must have felt great to see the excellent fruits of their labour! A postscript – At one point in the proceedings I was certain that I saw Caissa, the beautiful and sagacious goddess of chess, winking at me from the ceiling!
WIM DEBORAH RICHARDS-PORTER
Mrs. Deborah Richards-Porter, a Wolmer’s Girls alumnus, has been Jamaica’s best female player since winning the first of her ten (10) consecutive national women’s titles in 2002.
In the 2006 World Chess Olympiad in Turin, Italy she obtained the Woman Fide Master (“WFM”) title becoming the first female from the English-speaking Caribbean to do so. In February, 2014 she finished third at the Sub-Zonals (a women’s world Championship qualifier) in Suriname to earn the Woman International Master (“WIM”) title, another first for a female from the English-speaking Caribbean.
At the Olympiad in Tromso, Norway in August, she played all eleven rounds on the top board for Jamaica, finishing with a team high 7 of 11 points, including excellent draws against women grandmasters.
She completed a remarkable 2014 by placing third in the Challengers section of the UMADA Cup in Guyana in November.
FM DAMION DAVY
Damion Davy, a Camperdown High School alumnus, had a great year dominating the local Chess scene with victory after victory in the Open tournaments.
After becoming the first Jamaican player to win three consecutive national titles (2011-2013), he cemented his status as Jamaica’s best active player with a sterling performance in the World Chess Olympiad in Tromso, Norway in August, 2014.
Davy scored 6/10 on Jamaica’s top board in Norway, including magnificent displays against Grandmasters, leading the way for his country. For his Olympiad performance he was awarded the FIDE Master (“FM”) title by the World Chess Federation (“FIDE”).
17th January, 2015 Ian G. Wilkinson QC President Jamaica Chess Federation
Deborah Richards-Porter, the English-speaking Caribbean’s top female Chess player, left Jamaica on Sunday August 31 to participate in the Women’s Pan-American Continental Chess Tournament being held in Palmira, Valle del Cauca, Colombia from September 1 -7, 2014.
The event is a nine-round Swiss tournament and the 29 year-old Jamaican is in pursuit of her Woman Grandmaster (“WGM”) title. The Colombian event is a crucial stepping stone to achieving this milestone as the winner will achieve a WGM norm.
Richards-Porter has had a stellar year to date. In February she continued her record-making performances by finishing third in the Female Sub-Zonals held in Suriname. This qualification event for the Women’s World Championship earned her the Woman International Master (“WIM”) title – a first for the English-speaking Caribbean. Her first international title was Woman FIDE Master (“WFM”), also a first for the English-speaking Caribbean, awarded for her performance at the 2006 Chess Olympiad in Turin, Italy.
In the 41st Chess Olympiad held in Tromso, Norway last month she was Jamaica’s top scorer, playing in all eleven rounds and scoring 7/11 including magnificent battles in the last two rounds against WGMs from Turkey and Iceland, respectively, that ended in draws.
The trip by Jamaica’s record Women’s Champion, who won ten consecutive national titles between 2002 and 2011, was sponsored by the Jamaica Chess Federation.
Both Jamaican teams scored identical victories today against tough opponents in the 8th round of the (41st) World Chess Olympiad being held in Tromso, Norway. In the Women’s Section, wins by WIM Deborah Richards-Porter and WFM Rachel Miller on the top two boards, aided by a draw from WCM Melisha Smith, spearheaded a 2 ½ – 1 ½ victory over Sri Lanka. Curiously, this avenged the loss by Jamaica’s Open/Men’s team to Sri Lanka in yesterday’s 7th round action. In the 9th round tomorrow the Jamaicans will face Malta.
The Russians were comfortable 3 ½ – ½ winners against Hungary and moved to 16 points maintaining the lead in the Women’s section. Tomorrow they will face Armenia (13) while China (who defeated Poland 3-1 and is in clear 2nd place on 14 points) will clash with France (13) who defeated the USA 2 ½ – 1 ½.
In the Open Section the Jamaicans fought hard to defeat a determined Ivory Coast team 2 ½ – 1 ½ with victories by the in-form CM Damion Davy and CM-elect Ras Malaku Lorne on the top two boards. CM-elect Brandon Wilson drew on board 4 to secure the victory. Davy has a chance to earn the higher FIDE Master (“FM”) title if he wins his next game to reach the coveted 6 points. The Jamaicans have now amassed 8 points and will face a tough Zimbabwe in the next round.
China soundly defeated long-time leaders Azerbaijan 3-1 to move to 14 points and assume the lead in the Open section ahead of several teams all on 13 points – France, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Czech Republic and Romania. In tomorrow’s 9th round the Chinese face a tricky match on the top boards against former two-time champion Ukraine; the Czech Republic plays France and Azerbaijan will try to recover some momentum against Romania.
What a round! The 6th round of the (41st) World Chess Olympiad being held in Tromso, Norway saw enthralling chess being played as teams stepped up their game. I decided to start with the Women’s Section as for some reason music is in my head and I can hear Queen Latifah and Monie Love rapping “Ooooh ladies first, ladies first….”! Perhaps the melodies in my head are due to the much-anticipated Team Kasparov’s Polar Fest set for August 9 at 8:00 pm. “Magic” is in the air!
The Chinese cemented their place at the top of the standings with their 6th straight win, a clinical 3-1 beating of Hungary with wins by the reigning Women’s World Champion GM Hou Yifan and GM Zhao Xue on boards 1 and 3, respectively. The other two games were drawn.
The defending champions, Russia, kept pace with the Chinese by defeating Serbia 3 ½ – ½, their three wins including one on the top board from GM Kateryna Lagno, the former Ukraine player continuing to do well for her new team. Lagno does not seem to be distracted by the attention brought by her much publicized and controversial transfer from Ukraine earlier in the year.
The Chinese women lead the standings on tie-breaks ahead of Russia although each is on 12 points. Poland is in clear third on 11 points. In the 7th round tomorrow the top two teams will face each other in a marquee match that could go a far way in deciding the gold medals. These games should attract a lot of attention. In the other top two pairings Poland will face France (10 points) and Hungary (10) battle Romania (10).
ROLLER-COASTER OLYMPIAD FOR WEST INDIANS – JAMAICA ACHIEVES FIRST TITLE!
Jamaica’s topsy-turvy Olympiad continued as the women’s team fought hard but were no match for the higher-ranked Paraguay, losing ½- 3 ½ .The silver lining in the dark cloud of defeat was Annesha Smith’s draw with the black pieces on board 4 to spare the losers’ blushes and register her 4th consecutive, undefeated game. Annesha’s performance (3 ½ points out of a possible 5) has guaranteed that she will leave Norway with at least the Woman Candidate Master (“WCM”) title. This positive development means that the Jamaicans will achieve one of their objectives early, namely gaining international titles.
Jamaica’s West Indian neighbours Barbados lost 1-3 to a tough Malta team but Trinidad & Tobago tasted success defeating Seychelles by the same scoreline. Tomorrow, Jamaica will face the Dominican Republic, Barbados will tackle Aruba and Trinidad & Tobago will have Macedonia.
REGGAE CHESS AMBASSADORS WIN AGAIN!
Jamaica’s men did well to defeat a tough Malawi team 2 ½ – 1 ½ after good victories from the form players CM Damion Davy and Ras Malaku Lorne on boards 1 and 2, respectively. The Jamaicans have now won 3 of their 6 matches moving up to 88th position and will face a combative Sri Lanka in the next round. The two teams drew in the final round of the 2012 Istanbul Olympiad.
Jamaica’s West Indian neighbours Barbados (#130) and Trinidad & Tobago (#144) faced stiff opposition and did not survive losing 1-3 to Angola and ½- 3 ½ to Japan, respectively. Barbados will have a much easier time in the next round against Gambia, while Trinidad will have an interesting time against Honduras. The Bahamas (#152) will press for more success against Guam after turning back Palau 2 ½ – 1 ½. Although Guyana (#136) lost 1-3 to Nigeria the team nonetheless tasted some success as Anthony Drayton upset IM Bunmi Olape on board 1! The Guyanese will face Namibia next.
A NUMBER OF TEAMS ARE ON A MISSION!
Azerbaijan continued to demonstrate that their occupancy of the top spot is no fluke as they dispatched an audacious Georgia 3 ½ – ½ with a key victory on board 1 from the rampaging GM Shakriyar Mamedyarov against the exciting (mercurial?) GM Baadur Jobava. Valuable supporting wins also came from GMs Rauf Mamedov and Eltaj Safarli on boards 3 and 4, respectively. The Azeris are playing with purpose and perhaps want to win the Olympiad in memory of their outstanding warrior, GM Vugar Gashimov of recent, blessed memory.
The Cubans, the Caribbean’s top players but perennial “bridesmaids”, have looked determined as if they are also on a mission. The “Havana Knights” dismantled Kazkhstan 3 ½ – ½ with wins from GMs Lazaro Bruzon, Yuniesky Quesada and Reynaldo Ortiz on boards 2-4, respectively.
Norwegian GM Magnus Carlsen, the World Champion and World’s highest rated player, displayed his magnificent class by issuing the precise commands to his pawns and pieces (all of which dutifully obeyed!) resulting in a convincing defeat of Italy’s supremo GM Fabiano Caruana in a spine-tingling top board clash of two of the world’s top three players. Wins by GMs Jon Ludvig Hammer and Kjetil Lie (who exorcised some demons!) rounded off an excellent 3-1 victory for the hosts. In the next round the Norwegians, climbing up the table to 18th, will face Germany.
Although former world champion GM Vladimir Kramnik lost to former FIDE KO Champion GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov on the top board, Russia rallied to beat Uzbekistan 2 ½ – 1 ½ through victories by GMs Alexander Grischuk and Ian Nepomniatchi. In other top ten match-ups Bulgaria and Serbia drew 2-2 as did France and Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Azerbaijan and Cuba are tied at the top on 11 points with 5 wins and a draw, the Europeans leading on tie-breaks. Russia, China, Serbia and the Netherlands come next each on 10 points with 4 wins and 2 draws.
In tomorrow’s major 7th round contests, Azerbaijan will match wits against Cuba in a clash of continents, Russia will face the Czech Republic and Serbia and China go head to head.
The 10th round of the (41st) World Chess Olympiad being held in Tromso, Norway was historic for Jamaica. August 12 will be remembered as the day Jamaica’s three-time National Champion CM Damion Davy performed magnificently and won “to order” (as Garry Kasparov would say!) reaching 6 points from 9 games to earn the FIDE Master (“FM”) title. Playing with the white pieces and needing a win to get the title, Davy faced the experienced FM Roy Phillips of Mauritius and finished gloriously with a Bishop and Knight checkmate, a feat many have failed to accomplish. Damion’s victory (plus Daren Wisdom’s first win of the tournament!) enabled the Jamaicans to draw 2-2 and gave them a chance to win their category (“D”) or, alternatively, finish among the medals when they face Palestine in the 11th (final) round tomorrow.
In other Caribbean results, Bahamas had another strong performance with a 2 ½ – 1 ½ win over Mauritania to surge up the standings in their category (“E”) with chances to finish in the top three. Trinidad & Tobago was put to the sword 0-4 by Mongolia while young WFM Yu Tien Poon earned a draw for Barbados on board 4 to salvage some pride in Yemen’s 3 ½ – ½ victory. Although Guyana lost 1 ½ – 2 ½ to Afghanistan, Netherland Antilles defeated Guam 3 ½ – ½ and US Virgin Islands and Bermuda defeated Swaziland and Solomon Islands 4-0, respectively.
THE CHINESE IN POLE POSITION!
France’s title chances nose-dived after GM Yu Yangyi’s crucial win over GM Laurent Fressinet on board 3 separated the teams, China winning the top board clash 2 ½ – 1 ½ to make the men from the Orient the odds-on favourites to win a landmark first title. This loss obviously pained the French as late into the night (after 3 am the next morning!) on leaving the “Jamaica Party” at Bar 24, French GM Etienne Bacrot could be heard repeating, wistfully, that they lost to China!
Of the chasing pack Hungary defeated Romania 3-1 to give themselves a chance of catching the Chinese if they slip. Bulgaria’s chances went up in smoke after a 1 ½ – 2 ½ loss to Poland and the 2-2 draw between Ukraine and Azerbaijan did not help either team. Cuba beat Georgia 3 ½ – ½ and Russia defeated Serbia 2 ½ – 1 ½ to give both victors faint, but unlikely, hopes of medaling while Armenia, the defending champion, surrendered its title with a 2-2 draw against Vietnam.
In a shocker, Croatia’s top GM Ivan Saric totally outclassed World Champion GM Magnus Carlsen to hand the Norwegian his second loss of the tournament. Croatia’s convincing 3 ½ – ½ victory effectively means that the hosts Norway will end the event empty-handed without either team or individual glory.
Today is the second rest day and heading into tomorrow’s final round China leads on 17 points, Hungary is second on 16 and 8 teams are tied on 15 – France, Ukraine, Russia, USA, Uzbekistan, India, Azerbaijan and Poland. China is likely to win gold with their great form but the silver and bronze medals are still up for grabs and will be determined after the following games – Poland-China, Hungary-Ukraine, Russia-France, Azerbaijan-USA and India-Uzbekistan. Of course, if China loses and Hungary wins the “Magyars” will take top honours.
In good individual performances from the African continent Zambia’s IM Stanley Chumfwa played well to defeat Ireland’s GM Alexander Baburin on board 1 as the teams drew 2-2; CM Bomo Kigigha (rated 2197) drew with Albania’s top player GM Erald Dervishi (2581!) as the Europeans won 3-1; and the untitled Algerian Yamine Seddaoui (2105) drew with the Austrian IM Robert Kreisl (2432) Austria winning 3 ½ – ½.
UKRAINIAN WOMEN DEFEAT RUSSIA!
The political intrigue between Russia and Ukraine over the past few months have captivated the world, especially with the controversial annexation of Crimea. The tension between the two countries spilled over into the Chess arena when the Russian Chess Federation pounced and lured Ukraine’s top female player, GM Kateryna Lagno, to switch Federations. Indeed, among other things, it is alleged that the delay of this transfer resulted in the delayed registration of Russia’s women’s team and the consequent refusal by the Norwegian organizers to allow the team entry into the Olympiad. Of course, this decision was sagaciously reversed.
To combat the loss of their star player, Ukraine in turn “retrieved” GM Anna Muzychuk from Slovenia to bolster its top board. In today’s 10th round the two teams met setting the stage for great tension. As the contest raged drawing its fair share of attention the two “transferees”, Muzychuk and Lagno battled to a tense draw on board 1. On board 2 IM Maria Muzychuk was up to the task holding the freshly-minted Women’s European Champion GM Valentina Gunina. On board 3, two former Women’s World Champions faced off but neither Russia’s GM Alexandra Kosteniuk nor Ukraine’s GM Anna Ushenina could break the stalemate. It was on board 4 that what some would call poetic justice occurred as GM Natalia Zhukova defeated WGM Olga Girya to bring Ukraine victory 2 ½ – 1 ½ , inflicting the first loss on the Russians. Later I saw an obviously upset Kosteniuk walking alone on the streets heading to her hotel.
Fortunately for the Russians China was surprisingly held to a 2-2 draw by Spain. Although GM Hou Yifan won on board 1, IM Ana Matnadze proved too strong for WGM Tan Zhongyi on board 3. Georgia defeated Poland 3-1 and Germany bested Romania 2 ½ – 1 ½ to give themselves a chance of finishing among the medals.
Russia is clinging to the lead with 18 points; China and Ukraine are tied on 17; Germany comes next on 16 and Georgia, Spain, Bulgaria and Armenia round off the top 8 with 15 each. The matches that should decide the medals in tomorrow’s final round are Russia-Bulgaria; Ukraine-China; Georgia-Germany; and Armenia-Spain.
JAMAICAN’S WIM DEBORAH RICHARDS-PORTER BATTLE WGM TO A DRAW!
Jamaica (ranked 88) entered the 10th round in 57th position (!) facing the “Ottoman’s Empire’s” strong warriors (ranked 33 – all of 55 places ahead!). In a gutsy and solid performance by WIM Deborah Richards-Porter on board 1 the Jamaican showed good technique and resilience to hold Turkey’s very experienced and highly acclaimed player WGM Betul Cemre Yildiz to a draw. The Turk is rated almost 300 points over the Jamaican and has beaten some of the world’s top players including reigning Women’s World Champion China’s GM Hou Yifan!
Wins on the other 3 boards handed Turkey a 3 ½ – ½ victory. Special mention must be made of the effort by 14 year-old Jamaican Champion WFM Rachel Miller on board 2. Playing in her first Olympiad Miller faced WGM Kubra Ozturk (rated more than 500 points over the young Jamaican!) and fought bravely maintaining the advantage after more than 40 moves (!!) had been played before running into time trouble and eventually capitulating.
Jamaica (on 10 points) has the unenviable task of defeating a tough Iceland team (with Women Grandmasters and Women International Masters and also on 10 points) in the final round to have a chance of finishing among the medals in their category.
In other West Indian matches Barbados lost 1-3 to Zimbabwe while Trinidad & Tobago drew 2-2 with Namibia and will next face Mozambique and Ethiopia, respectively. In a couple of note-worthy results from the African continent, Kenya routed Cameroon 4-0, the same score-line in Malawi’s win over Swaziland.
Report and photographs by Ian Wilkinson QC
Jamaica’s Chef de Mission
August 13, 2014
Jamaica’s Women’s team showed good form on August 11 in the 9th round of the (41st) World Chess Olympiad being held in Tromso, Norway. Wins by WIM Deborah Richards-Porter and the Smith sisters, Melisha and Annesha, led Jamaica to a 3-1 victory over Malta. This excellent result has earned the team a match-up against a very strong Turkey in tomorrow’s 10th (penultimate) round. In their rating category (“D”) the Jamaicans are currently second behind Tajikistan and are fighting for a podium place.
In other West Indian matches Barbados lost 1-3 to Thailand while Trinidad & Tobago drew 2-2 with Qatar and will next face Zimbabwe and Namibia, respectively.
THE RUSSIANS ARE ALMOST THERE!
The Russians were fortunate to avoid defeat (after GM Kateryna Lagno lost on board 1 to GM Elina Danielian) and also to win their match against Armenia 2 ½ – 1 ½. They maintained their sole lead in the Women’s section with 18 points. In tomorrow’s round Russia will face Ukraine, the team from Kiev in clear 3rd on 15 points after defeating India 2 ½ – 1 ½.
China is in clear 2nd on 16 points (after defeating France 3 ½ – ½) and will clash with Spain (14) who defeated Argentina 3 ½ – ½. Other matches featuring possible medal contenders are Germany-Romania (14 points each) and Georgia (13) – Poland (14).
In the Open Section the Jamaicans competed well, missed a glorious opportunity to beat Zimbabwe, and actually lost 1-3 after Andrew Mellace and CM-elect Brandon Wilson lost on boards 2 and 4, respectively. Draws by the reliable CM-elect Ras Malaku Lorne and Daren Wisdom secured draws on the other two boards. The Jamaicans, still in with a chance to win medals in their category as well as more individual titles, will face Mauritius in tomorrow’s 10th and penultimate round.
The Bahamas continued its good showing with a fantastic 3-1 win over the much higher rated San Marino team; Trinidad & Tobago beat Hong Kong 2 ½ – 1 ½ and Barbados had a solid 2-2 draw against Algeria.
A HUMDINGER FINISH IN STORE!!
Draws (2-2) between China-Ukraine and Azerbaijan-Romania have left things tantalizingly poised at the top of the standings with just two rounds to go. France made a big move forward by defeating Czech Republic 2 ½ – 1 ½, Hungary defeated Israel 3-1 and Bulgaria dealt Cuba’s medal hopes a serious body blow with a 2 ½ – 1 ½ win.
China and France are tied on 15 points closely followed by several teams on 14 points each – Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania. The event is headed for a bang-up finish and is too close to call right now. After the smoke clears at the end of tomorrow’s top matches (France-China, Ukraine-Azerbaijan, Hungary-Romania and Bulgaria-Poland), a better picture will emerge of the likely medal winners.
Roughly two-thirds of the (41st) World Chess Olympiad being held in Tromso, Norway have gone and it is clear that (pardon the pun!) the players have stepped up their game! After the smoke had cleared in yesterday’s 7th round action Russia’s women team had taken a huge step towards defending their title with an emphatic 3-1 victory over the favourites China. In the top board game GM Kateryna Lagno continued to prove her weight in gold for her new federation by using the white pieces to great effect to hand the reigning Women’s World Champion GM Hou Yifan her first defeat of the tournament. Another victory by WGM Olga Girya on board 4 backed by two draws sealed the deal.
The Russians are now on 14 points and have placed one hand on the winners’ trophy, leading by two clear points ahead of China, Hungary and Poland, each on 12 points. In the 8th round tomorrow Russia will face Hungary (10), China must try to recover against Poland and France and the USA (each on 11 points) will clash.
JAMAICA FIGHTS BACK!
Although Jamaica’s Women’s champion 14 year-old WFM Rachel Miller won her game, Jamaica fell behind 1-2 to a determined Dominican Republic team. The West Indians were rescued by WIM Deborah Richards-Porter who won on the top board to secure a 2-2 draw. In the 8th round Jamaica will face Sri Lanka, a curious repeat of the fixture between the Open/Men’s teams from the same countries in the 7th round!
JAMAICA’S MEN BRING HOME MORE TITLES!
Jamaica’s “Reggae Chess Ambassadors” fought gallantly but lost 1 ½ – 2 ½ to a tough Sri Lanka team. Ras Malaku Lorne continued to show that he is “solid as a rock”, drawing on board 2 while Brandon Wilson won the sole game for the Jamaicans on board 4. With Lorne scoring 3 ½ points from seven games and Wilson scoring 3 ½ points from 5 games, it appears that the Jamaicans have qualified for the “Candidate Master” title. This would mean three new titles for the country so far including Annesha Smith’s accomplishment in the Women’s section. Jamaica will face an unpredictable Ivory Coast team in the 8th round.
Barbados beat Gambia 3 ½ – ½ and will next face Liechtenstein. Trinidad & Tobago overcame Honduras 2 ½ – 1 ½ thanks to 15 year-old CM Joshua Johnson’s sole victory of the match. The “Soca Chess Warriors” will battle Syria tomorrow. Bahamas lost to Guam 1-3 and will try to win against Tanzania tomorrow.
AZERBAIJAN AGAIN VICTORIOUS!
Although on the top board Cuba’s GM Leinier Dominguez handed Azerbaijan’s GM Shakriyar Mamedyarov his first defeat of the event, Capablanca’s men succumbed 1 ½ – 2 ½ to the Azeris due to victories by GMs Teimour Radjabov (over GM Lazaro Bruzon) and Gadir Guseinov (over GM Reynaldo Ortiz) on boards 2 and 4, respectively.
In what must be considered a major upset the Czech Republic humbled a Kramnik-less Russia 3-1 with victories by GMs David Navara and Viktor Laznicka over GMs Alexander Grischuk and Peter Svidler, respectively, on the top 2 boards. This painful loss leaves Russia’s chances of gaining top honours (for the first time since Chess legend Garry Kasparov led them to their last Olympiad victory in 2002 in Bled, Slovenia) hanging by a thread as they are stuck on 10 points and have been passed by a number of potential title contenders.
The World Champion Norwegian GM Magnus Carlsen suffered a shock defeat with the white pieces to the German supremo GM Arkadij Naiditsch in the only decisive game as Germany won 2 ½ – 1 ½ against Norway. This defeat for the Norwegians has put a major dent in their hopes of medaling on home soil.
Azerbaijan are in the clear lead on 13 points followed by China, Czech Republic and Bulgaria all on 12 points. The tournament is wide open with the gold, silver and bronze medals still up for grabs. Key round 8 matches that will have a bearing on deciding the ultimate winners are: China-Azerbaijan; Romania (12) – Czech Republic; Ukraine (11) – Bulgaria; France (11) – Poland (11); Germany (11) – Cuba (11) and India (11) – Armenia (11).
The fourth round of the (41st) World Chess Olympiad being held in Tromso, Norway was a pulsating affair especially for traditional Caribbean rivals Jamaica and Barbados. These two teams clashed in a mouth-watering “West Indian War” that had many onlookers riveted. Although this was only the 4th round and the teams were in the lower half of the table, one could easily have thought that this match was for the gold medals as both camps prepared feverishly.
Barbados drew first blood (a la Sylvester Stallone!) on board 2 after FM Orlando Husbands defeated Malaku Lorne, the rastaman’s Herculean efforts in the previous rounds eventually telling as his Caro-Kann could not survive his opponent’s aggressive play.
With supporters from “the land of wood and water” biting their nails, the “Reggae Chess Ambassadors” found another gear and rallied with National Champion Andrew Mellace using the white pieces to deliver a deadly blow to IM Kevin Denny’s solar plexus to force the Barbadian’s capitulation on board 3. It was Mellace’s first victory of the campaign.
On the top board three-time Jamaican Champion Damion Davy outclassed his adversary IM DeLisle Warner in an exciting French Defence to send his team in front. On board 4 Brandon Wilson fought tenaciously to repel FM Martyn Del Castilho’s threats to secure a draw thus gifting Jamaica victory 2 ½ – 1 ½ and repeating the 2012 Olympiad scoreline against the men from Bridgetown.
Jamaican men, ranked 122 out of 177 countries, have climbed to 84th approaching the halfway stage of the event They will face the much higher rated Ireland team, led by Grandmaster Alex Baburin, in tomorrow’s 5th round. Barbados (rated 106) has plummeted to 146 but still have many rounds to recover and finish the event on a high. They face Haiti (rated 157) in tomorrow’s 5th round.
MAKING CAPABLANCA PROUD!
Some of Jamaica’s Caribbean neighbours engaged in some bruising battles. Trinidad & Tobago (# 116) were outclassed 0-4 by Lithuania. The “Soca Warriors” are now 106 and will face Nepal in the next round.
The Bahamians (#158) continued their fighting return to the Olympiad arena, drawing 2-2 with Fiji (#142) Chappell Whyms (who plays in Jamaican tournaments from time to time) getting the only win for the men from Nassau. In the next round they will face Togo ranked 165.
Cuba, the top Caribbean country (ranked 13th!) played well to defeat India 2 ½- 1½, GM Reynaldo Ortiz scoring the sole win of the match against GM Babu Lalith. The former Cuban World Chess Champion Jose Capablanca must have looked on from above smiling! The “Havana Knights” will face Israel (#9) in the next round.
A NEW LEADER
The French, leaders after the previous round, were brought back down to earth as they were defeated by Azerbaijan who now lead the event ahead of Bulgaria, Serbia and Russia, respectively, all the teams winning their 4 matches. The Azeris will now face Serbia in the top board match tomorrow while Bulgaria will battle Russia, a match-up that will see former World Champions Veselin Topalov and Vladimir Kramnik renewing their bitter rivalry.
THE WOMEN ARE PLAYING EXCITING CHESS!
In the Women’s Section of the Olympiad the Iranians (# 21) played very well to defeat Slovakia (# 18) 3 ½ – ½ to show that they are the real deal! In the next round they will face the Hungarians (#13).
China, ranked number 1 and obviously one of the gold medal favourites, comfortably defeated Azerbaijan (# 22) led by a nice win on the top board by Women’s World Champion Grandmaster Hou Yifan. The Chinese women will next face another surprise package, Indonesia (#23) who smashed perennial challengers and 10th-ranked Armenia 3 ½- ½.
Russia, another favourite being ranked 2nd, defeated Germany (#12) and will play Georgia (# 4) who drew 2-2 with the Netherlands (#16).
Jamaica’s women (#88) fought gallantly but were defeated 0-4 by Australia (# 51), the scoreline being every flattering to the victors. Tragedy occurred on board 3 as WCM Melisha Smith lost on time although she outplayed her opponent throughout the game. The Jamaicans, now 92nd, will face New Zealand (#73) in the next round.
BARBADOS WOMEN ON TELEVISION!!
Barbados (#112) with two wins and two draws defeated Fiji (#115) 3-1. The West Indian women, now in 86th position, will have the privilege of playing Norway top team (#38) on board 2! The host teams always play on board 2 to facilitate broadcasting of the event on television. As is now customary, the hosts have three teams in each section of the event.
Trinidad & Tobago (# 103) were no match for Paraguay (#74) losing 0-4. The “Trinis”, in 94th position, will next meet the 95th-ranked United Arab Emirates.
China, Indonesia, Hungary, Russia, and Iran have won all their four matches and leading the standings.