Claire Clarke, Contributor
Volume 2. No. 14
Glenmuir High went to Campion College's home to claim their third lien on the All-Island High School Chess Championship last Saturday.
This victory by the rural kingpins has debunked the "princess lucky charm" myth that Chess Mate spoke of last week, as not even the presence of high-flying female junior Rachel Miller for Campion could contain the passion to win of the Glenmuir team from Clarendon.
This will be the first time that a team with a girl in the all-island final of chess has failed to secure the top prize. Princess Rachel did not lose her game though, under pressure of time a draw was accepted on board 4.
Glenmuir beat Campion with a 2.5 to 1.5 margin, which was not predicted by any of the coaches last week. Glenmuir's coach, Fide Master Warren Elliot, thought it would be a 2-2 end with a victory for his team in the blitz play-off. Campion's coach National Master Ryan Blackwood had called a 3-1 scoreline.
Members of the all-island Chess team for 2013 are board 1, Andrew Ellis (captain); board 2, Tahj Davis; board 3, Andre Nelson; board 4, Travoy Simpson. The winning points came from Ellis, Nelson and what can now be called 'the championship' half point from Simpson, who will all graduate from Glenmuir this year.
This triumph means that for the second consecutive year, the best in chess at the high-school team level hails from rural Jamaica, as Glenmuir's victory follows St Jago High's hold on the reins last year. But on the overall scoresheet the urban teams are way ahead. The title has been held by teams from the city 30 times, but only 12 times by rural teams.
Asked why he thought Glenmuir won in the competition's 39th year coach FM Elliot said: "Pure hard work and determination and, of course, some major blessing from God."
And then there was the Glenmuir charm. "There is a pattern we didn't mention much to the public ... but whenever Glenmuir win daCosta Cup, the chess team wins all island chess."
Buckled under pressure
Also, "the guys who were graduating basically promised the principal a victory." This was also the fifth year on the team for Ellis who is also Glenmuir's head boy and this was his first all-island title.
Coach NM Ryan Blackwood said: "I think we had little to work with because we had prepared for St Jago in the finals." Campion lost to St Jago in the all-island finals last year and all season have spoken about avenging this loss.
But since St Jago were sent back home to Monk Street by Glenmuir in the rural finals, Campion apparently failed to refocus and adjust for their new opponents. "The guys buckled under the pressure, they were actually winning on all four boards. I think it was the pressure that came with all-island finals," said NM Blackwood. He mentioned too that the Glenmuir team was more mature and stable than the younger Campion team.
"Rachel accepted a draw with mate in one on the board. She was under more pressure than any of the other guys being the only girl on the team," added NM Blackwood, "We just have to go back the drawing board."
On Saturday, all the prizes for the high-school chess season were given out these included:
Kingston - Camperdown
St Andrew - Campion
St Catherine - St Jago
Clarendon - Glenmuir
St Elizabeth - Munro
Westmoreland - Manning's
St James - Montego Bay Community College
St Mary - Iona High
Portland - Titchfield High
Rural champions - Glenmuir High
Rural runners-up - St Jago High
Corporate Area champions - Campion College
Corporate Area runners-up - Camperdown High
Best reserve - Travoy Simpson - Glenmuir
Best board 4 - Andre Nelson - Glenmuir
Best board 3 - Tahj Davis - Glenmuir
Best board 2 - Jason Lawson - Campion
Best board 1 - Alistair Walker - St Jago
NATIONAL SECOND PLACE
Alistair Walker - St Jago High
BEST GIRLS TEAM
Immaculate Conception High
Rachel Miller - Campion College
FM Warren Elliott
NATIONAL FIRST PLACE
National Junior tournament: March 23, Kingston
Carifta Championship: April 4-8, 2013, Kingston Jamaica
Queen's Prep Open: April 13, Queen's Prep
Email feedback, send in your games or upcoming tournaments to firstname.lastname@example.org and 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.