Smith Defends John Powell Open Title for 2018


Super National Master (SNM) Shreyas Smith continued his chess dominance in Jamaica after defending his Open section title recently at the 11th staging of the IAFM John Powell Memorial at Liberty Academy, after finishing on a superb 5 points from 6 games undefeated. His only dent was a draw against Nathan Hinds in the final round while his other half point came as a result of him collecting his RJR GLEANER Sports Foundation's Chess Player of the Year award which prevented him from playing that round.

With this title victory, Smith also passes the 2200 elo mark which only 12 known Jamaicans have surpassed in history. This is also the threshold required to apply to FédérationInternationale des Échecs (FIDE) for the Candidate Master (CM) title. This would make Jamaica the only English speaking Caribbean country to have an all titled top 10 player list at the moment.

Second place was a tie among 4 players who all ended on 4.5 points from 6 games. After tiebreaks were employed, Malik Curriah and Nathan Hinds remained adjudged for second, Kevron Campbell was fourth and Michael Christie was fifth.

The top junior position was a tie between Curriah and Christie with the prior placing first after both finished on the same score. National Master Akeem Brown was the third best junior with 4 points. Di-Jaun Smith recorded the best rank improvement after finishing 13th on 3.5 points from a starting rank of 42.

The best female was South African Women's International Master (WIM) Anzel Laubscher who flew in with the Cayman Chess Team for the tournament, and defeated Women's National Champion Woman's Candidate Master (WCM) Annesha Smith, National Master (NM) Peter Myers and drew with NM Stuart James. WCM Smith and WCM Adani Clarke were second and third respectively in this category.

Fide U-1600 Section

In keeping with the mandate of having more Jamaicans FIDE rated, the intermediate section has now become the Fide Under 1600 Section. This will allow players under the 1600 elo mark to participate in this section and give opportunity for more players to obtain a FIDE rating. As such, the time control has now become 55 minutes with 5 seconds after every move in keeping with the parameters for the section to be FIDE rated.

The top female and overall winner of this newly rated section was Ashanti Blackwood who finished on a solid 5.5 points from 6 games. She started off with 5 blazing wins and drew her final game against her compatriot NickaylahCurwin . Second place was a record tie among 5 players who all finished on 5 points. After tiebreaks were utilized, Arena Candidate Master (ACM) Kishan Clarke was second, Marlon Hutchinson was third, Andrew Smart was fourth, Darren Mckennis was fifth and NickaylahCurwin finished sixth.

NickaylahCurwin and Johmoi Blake (3.5 points) were the second and third best female respectively. Dhaymar Wright also recorded the best rank improvement after finishing 17th on 4 points from a starting rank of 65.

JCF U-1300 Rapid Section

The former amateur section has also been reclassified with it now becoming the JCF Under 1300 Rapid Section. Players who participate in this section will now receive a JCF rapid rating. As such, the time control has now become 20 minutes for each player.

Michael Graham was the overall winner with 5.5 points from 6 games. He recorded a similar start as the FIDE U-1600 winner by winning his first 5 games and drawing his final game with Joshua Ahjahorie. This also lead to a 4 way tie among 4 players who finished on 5 points. After tiebreaks were employed, Daville Smith was second, Joshua Smikle was third and  JoshuaAhjahorie was fourth. Joshua Smikle was also the best rank improvement after finishing third from a starting rank of 33.

About the event

The IA FM John Powell Memorial  was the first Grand Prix event for 2018 staged by The Jamaica Chess Federation. The tournament, which was previously called the New Year's Open, was renamed in honour of International Arbiter & FIDE Master John Powell, a founding member of the Jamaica Chess Federation (JCF) and a former president, who passed away in October of 2007.

Powell was one of the strongest players in Jamaica at the height of his chess-playing career during the 1970s and 1980s, achieving the title of National Master in 1975. He was widely considered to be the strongest Jamaican player never to have won the National Championships outright, even though he tied for first three times, losing out on tie-breaker. Powell represented Jamaica at many Chess Olympiads, winning a silver medal for Jamaica on Board Four in the Olympiad of 1984, which was held in Thessaloniki, Greece.  Powell scored 7/9 on board 4 with 6 wins, 2 draws, 1 loss, and earned a FIDE ELO rating of 2201, with a performance rating of 2421.  As a result of that performance he was awarded the FIDE Master (FM) Title posthumously in 2013.

Powell considered to be an extraordinary chess administrator, was one of the catalysts for the growth and development of the sport in Jamaica, particularly at the secondary school level during the 1980s and early 1990s. He also became a FIDE International Arbiter.

The eleventh staging of the IA FM John Powell Chess Open was organized by the Jamaica Chess Federation with the support of the Magnificent Chess Foundation, the Sports Development Foundation and the Liguanea Chess Club.



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