Jamaica captures bronze in CAC Team Chess
Jamaica secured the bronze trophy at the 16th Annual Central American and Caribbean Youth Chess Tournament, hosted in Panama, with a dramatic finish during the last round yesterday.
Entering the ninth and final round behind regional chess powerhouses Cuba and Colombia, and needing additional points to secure its podium spot, the Jamaican team delivered with scintillating performances across all divisions.
In seizing the coveted podium spot, Jamaica was first among CARICOM peers and ahead of countries with a longer and deeper chess tradition such as Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.
Mikhail Solomon, national junior coach for these championships remarked "the Jamaican team overcame enormous odds in winning the Bronze Trophy. This just shows the tremendous wealth of talent we possess in addition to the intangible inheritance of confidence, grit, resilience and determination. We hope that this performance encourages additional support for Jamaican chess"
Joshua Christie, the national under-16 champion led the team effort upstaging his more highly rated and arguably more experienced regional rivals over nine rounds of focused play. Christie won his final match yesterday, playing the French Defence and outmaneuvering his rival's Tarrasch structured response, to tally seven points from nine games. In doing so Christie seized the individual silver medal in his category for Jamaica.
Young Zaina O'Conner won silver in the female under-8 section. She showed determination in overcoming a spell of tournament illness and in so doing contributed to team success.
Such was the competitiveness of the Jamaican team that several other Jamaicans just missed a medal spot by finishing a close fourth in their respective categories. These included Cameron Coe in Under-8 Absolute, CM David Thomas in Under-12 Absolute, WCM Adani Clarke in Under-14 Female, Lontae Walker in Under-14 Absolute and Raehanna Brown in Under-12 Female, all of whom finished just behind the podium positions in fourth spot. In addition, Gabriella Watson in the female under-10, CM Leighton Barrett in Under-14 Absolute and CM Rachel Miller in the female under-18 sections all finished in fifth position.
FM Warren Elliott, the eight-time national chess champion of Jamaica who accompanied the team in a coaching capacity, said "the depth of Jamaica's performance was remarkable. The consistency across divisions against well heeled opposition strongly suggests that there is a systemic approach to chess development in Jamaica that is working".
Other team coaches included WIM Deborah Richards-Porter and Odane Hall while Jamaica was represented by its national champions across 12 divisions and other highly rated local players.
The tournament was held in Panama City between August 9 to August 16.