Claire Clarke, Contributor
Volume 1. No.46
It is that time of the year again when the high-schoolers start their bid to determine the champion chess team in all the island.
It has not yet been shared which are the teams in the different sections. But the tournament is set to run from November 8, to February 17, 2013.
It is customary for there to be an urban championship to select the top chess-playing team from the Corporate Area and a rural championship to select the top chess-playing team from rural Jamaica.
The winners from these two championships then square off to claim the ultimate prize.
The format involves an early round robin of teams that are placed in zones to select early quarter-finalists, then there is a knockout component for the remaining quarter-final spots.
Summer inactivity rust
ChessMate is aware that request for entries into both championships were shared with potential schools last month.
Normally, there would have been some showcasing of junior players before the start of the high-school tourney at the Harold Chan Open (in September) and the Jamaica Open (normally held in October). The Harold Chan Open did take place and team members from Glenmuir High, St Catherine High, Campion College, Calabar High, St Jago High and Ardenne High were seen scrapping away summer-inactivity rust.
The Jamaica Open, on the other hand, has been postponed until the middle of this month so there has not been another tournament-competitive sighting of any of the juniors that might help gauge the preparation status of the various teams.
The defending all-island team is from St Jago in Spanish Town, St Catherine. They are also the defending rural championship team, having defeated Glenmuir to move into the finals square.
The defending urban-championship team is from Campion College, who were dethroned as all-island champions last year. Campion College defeated Calabar High to contest the all-island trophy against St Jago High.
St Jago, defending all-island champions, could possibly be fielding the same team they won with last year as all team members returned to school this year and were also on show at the Harold Chan Open in September.
The 2012 championship team captain, Roderick Clifford, appeared in form at the tournament turning aside National Master Peter Myers and bettering Calabar's Shreyas Smith.
Campion College, defending urban champions, might be having some team changes, we believe. The Campion College team is also awash with new juniors who should make it competitive for team selection. Glenmuir were in aggressive form at the Harold Chan as Andre Nelson rose to the top of the Intermediate section at the Harold Chan, bettering St Jago championship team member, Jamie Cunningham, when he encountered him.
St Catherine's Nathan Hinds appeared a much improved player over last year when he was on show at the Harold Chan, and if the St Catherine High outfit has more improved players like Hinds, they might reconfigure and disturb any thoughts that St Jago or Glenmuir have of an easy rural section.
Jamaica Open: Negril Escape Resort, Westmoreland. November 17-18
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Claire Clarke is a former women's national champion, three-time Jamaica women's team chess olympiad representative, trained journalist and editor.