Claire Clarke, Contributor
Volume 1. No.40
After eight rounds at the 36 Chess Olympiad in Istanbul, Turkey, at least one of the targets set by the Jamaica Chess Federation (JCF) seems to be on track as National Champion Damion Davy has been elevated to being a Candidate Master with his positive performance of four points from seven games.
Improving international titles was one of the goals that JCF president Ian Wilkinson listed before the team left for Turkey just over a week ago. Overall though, the Jamaicans playing chess in Turkey continue to put up a valiant struggle as they square off against the top players in the world.
At the end of eight rounds the Jamaican Open team with Fide Master Warren Elliot - board one, International Master Jomo Pitterson - board two, Candidate Master Duane Rowe - board three, National Master and National Champion Damion Davy - board four and National Master and National Champion Andrew Mellace - reserve stood on a conservative 16.5 points. Maximum points possible after eight rounds is 32 and the leading team of USA, after eight rounds, has 23.5 points.
On full assessment with six rounds to go, the Open team has delivered a creditable performance having won three of their eight matchups, lost four and drawn one. Victories were round 3 against Mauritana, 3-1; round 5 against Caribbean neighbours Barbados, 2.5-1.5; and round 8 against Pakistan, 2.5-1.5.
Teams that they lost to include round 1 Slovenia, 2.5 - 1.5 (a score line that is considered an upset as IM Pitterson beat GM Matej Sebenik and FM Elliot drew with GM Alexander Belianvsky and the team was adorned with four Grand Masters); round 2 Algeria 3 - 1, round 6 Bolivia, 2.5 - 1.5; and round 7 Pakistan, 2.5 - 1.5.
The lone draw was against Syria in round 4.
Leading the points standing for the Jamaican Open team after eight rounds is Oman- based Duane Rowe who has 4.5 points from seven games. Rowe who is a Candidate Master, is on a mission to end this Olympiad with a new international title in front of his name and, so far, he appears poised to achieve his target if his win rate continues.
FM Elliot has three points from seven games, IM Pitterson has three points from six games, and NM Mellace has two points from five games.
Going into the ninth round against Zimbabwe, a matchup that should have taken place yesterday, Jamaica's rank in the tournament has moved from 105 to 94. Of the regional teams represented at this Olympiad, Aruba, Barbados, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Trinidad and Tobago, only Cuba ranked 29 and Dominica Republic ranked 65 are currently ahead of the Jamaican Open team.
JA WOMEN'S TEAM
The Jamaican Women's team of board one Women's Fide Master Deborah Richards-Porter, board two National Women's Champion Krishna Gray, board three Women's Candidate Master Zhu Hui, board four Melisha Smith and reserve Women's Candidate Master Ariel Barrett have faced tough results so far. After finishing with the gold medal for their category in the last Olympiad in Russia the upgrade of the Jamaican women to the tougher category seems to be taking its toll.
The women got a bye in round eight and, from the seven games played, only managed one victory in round 2 against Aruba, 2.5-1.5. Losses have come against Serbia 4-0 in round one, Turkey 3.5-0.5 in round three, Denmark 4-0 in round four, Uruguay 2.5-1.5 in round five, Suriname 3-1 in round 6 and Pakistan 2.5-1.5 in round 7.
Going into round 9 where the Jamaican women should have paired off against Afghanistan yesterday, (Thursday) the team has compiled nine points from a maximum 32. Top-of-the-table teams China and France both have 24 points.
Leading the points standing for the women is WFM Richards-Porter - 2.5 points from seven games. National Champion Gray has 1.5 points from seven games, WCM Hui - one point from six games, Smith -
The Jamaica women at the end of round eight are ranked below all other teams from the region represented, which includes Aruba, Barbados, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Trinidad and Tobago.
Play of all the games in the Olympiad can be followed online at http://www.chessolympiadistanbul.com/livegames/ and robust interactive debate and analysis on the outcome and during the game play is constantly in progress in the ChessMate group on Facebook, with comments from local and international chess enthusiasts.
Chess Olympiad: August 27 - September 10 Istanbul, Turkey.
Harold Chan Open: September 29 and 30 venue to be announced.
Email feedback, send in your games or upcoming tournaments to email@example.com join the facebook page chessmate. Claire Clarke is a former Women's National Champion, three-time Jamaica women's team Chess Olympiad representative, trained journalist and editor.