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OVERVIEW OF JUNIOR CHESS IN JAMAICA
“I love chess because it helps me think in school..”
—- Eight year old Tewana Mellace in an interview with the Gleaner in 2004″
(Photo by Brian Cummings)
The future of Junior chess no doubt lies in the hands of young Jamaican talents like Tewana Mellace who was recenly very successful in the Miami Orange Bowl tournament, held earlier in 2007.
At only eight years of age, Tewana captured the Under-10, Under-12 and Under-14 chess titles at the National Junior Age Group Chess Champs hosted by the Jamaica Chess Federation in 2004..
The youngest participant in the event, Mellace emerged victor over seven of the best players from across Jamaica between the ages of eight and 14, after beating last year’s U-12 champion, Brian Ewbank, to capture the U-14 title.
About his phenomenal win, the soft-spoken second grader says he feels good. He says participating in the game helps with his concentration, problem-solving and thinking skills.
Historically, the Jamaica Chess Federation has had some very promising and accomplished juniors and female chess players in its chess history which spans nearly forty years.
In 1976, a 16 year-old junior chess player named Sheldon Wong won the national championships and then represented Jamaica in the same year at the 15th world junior chess championships in Groningen, The Netherlands winning a brilliancy price for his second round win against Israel’s Nir Grinberg.
Another past junior Shane Matthews, who is now a national master also represented Jamaica in 1982 in the Chess Olympiad in Lucerne, and then went on to win the National championships for a record Seven times.
National Master Jomo Pitterson, who is arguably the greatest and most successful junior chess player that Jamaica has ever produced, holds the He holds the distinction of being the first player to win Junior titles in three Caribbean Countries within a single year.
He helped his school Campion to win three successive School chess titles in the then Workers Bank school chess tournament, and Won his first National Championship title in 1992, while he was still in high school.