JAMAICAN MEN WIN “WEST INDIAN WAR”!
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.