Checkmate! - Junior Reggae Knights, Queens stand tall at Pan Am Youth Chess Champs
In Jamaica's largest team appearance at the 29th Pan American Youth Chess Championship held in Santiago, Chile, the 23-player contingent of Junior Reggae Knights and Junior Reggae Queens performed superbly against the international opposition to produce a spectacular finish over the nine-round event.
Jamaica fielded, for the first time, a player in each official category for both the Absolute and Female Sections of the tournament. The tournament, which featured 22 countries and over 630 players, was going to be no easy feat, but the players never deterred from the challenge they were going to face.
The U-8A Section saw the young Aaron Mckoy perform exceptionally well in his first international tournament, where he finished tied for ninth place and 11th after tiebreaks on 5.5 points from nine games. His teammates, Cameron Coe and Joshua Smikle, also finished well on five and four points, respectively.
In the U-8F Section, Najean Brown finished 29th on 2.5 points in what was her first-ever FIDE-rated event.
In the U-10 Sections, Corbin Harvey finished in 26th place on five points while Woman's Candidate Master (WCM) Zaina O'Connor finished in 25th place on 4.5 points.
The U-12A Section saw rising junior Darren Mckennis finishing the tournament on five points in 28th place after tiebreaks. Jaden Shaw and John Stephenson ended their Chilean journey on 4.5 points each in 49th and 51st place, respectively. Addison Abrahams rounded up the section on three points in 74th place after tiebreaks.
The U-12F Section saw the quartet of budding young female players mainly finish on at least four points and above. Laila Griffiths had a splendid tournament after finishing in 19th place with five points and the highest rating increase among the Jamaican players with a 92 elo gain. Amy Stephenson and Gabriella Watson finished on 4.5 points each in 23rd and 26th place, respectively, with Arielle Mckoy finishing on four points in 36th place.
Nicholas Lyn and Ronaldo Thompson had a difficult tournament with Lyn finishing in 15th place on four points and Thompson in 59th place on 3.5 points in the U-14A Section. Raehanna Brown had a brilliant tournament, which included a fourth-round draw against the overall fifth-place finisher to put her in 13th place on five points in the U-14F Section.
Lontae Walker finished in 49th on four points in the U-16A Section while Carifta U-16 Female Champion WCM Adani Clarke finished tied 10th (13th after tiebreaks) on five points in the U-16F Section.
Fifth-place finisher at the 2018 Subzonal 2.3.5 Absolute Section FIDE Master (FM) Joshua Christie, finished tied 11th (13th after tiebreak) on a solid 5.5 points in the U-18A Section. His teammates, Malik Gayla and Nikit Gupte, finished on three points each after a draw between them in the final round.