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Chasing the chess crown

Published:Friday | March 30, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Claire Clarke, Contributor

Volume 1. No. 18

Today, we start brief profiles on the players gunning to make the national teams to represent Jamaica in the Olympiad in Turkey. This tournament starts April 13.

Defending national champion, National Master Damion Davy

He is currently studying actuarial science at the University of the West Indies. Rated 2100, NM Davy has been very active in the last 12 months and seems primed to retain his title.

Performance in past 12 months:

June 2011 - second in the Robert Wheeler Open;

July 2011 - is crowned national champion, did not lose a game scoring nine points in field of 12;

Sept 2011 - wins the Harold Open;

Nov 2011 - wins UMADA Chal-lenges Cup in Barbados from a field of 38 top regional players;

Dec 2011 - leads a UWI team in the Pan American Intercollegiate Champs and the team places third in the international section;

Jan 2012 - wins the John Powell Open, not losing a game, scoring five points from six games.

Davy is by far one of the most active players in this field and if he is not constrained by university studies, he should be a force for the others who want his crown to reckon with.

National Junior Champion 2011, Miguel Asher

A past student of Wolmer's and Ardenne High, the current UWI student is a new face in these high circles of Jamaican chess. Rated 1806, Asher played alongside NM Davy for team UWI in December but does not have any major tournament wins under his belt since being crowned National Junior champion last in April 2011.

National Junior Champion 2012 Stuart James

Currently, a UWI student, he has been consistent in his growth this year and older players must pay attention to this young star. James, rated 1983, tied with NM Davy in the John Powell open but was beaten on tie break, was also a member of team UWI last December.

Fide Candidate Master (FCM) Mark Holness

He hails from western Jamaica and, while he has not yet won this title, is a respected player in this field. Rated 1988, Holness has not won a tournament in the past 12 months.

Women's Fide Master (WFM) Deborah Richards

She makes history this year as the first woman to compete in the open section of the Jamaica National Championship. Rated 1989, WFM Richards carries the legacy of being a 10-time women's champion who is head-and-shoulders above her chess peer by sex. The step into this arena is the only logical developmental step for Richards, which has been the route for international players like Hungarian Susan Polgar, who also outclassed her female peers and moved across to play primarily in open tournaments. WFM Richards is fresh from a sub-zonal tournament in Ecuador and plays in this tournament with nothing to lose.

All ratings shown are from the FIDE website. Profiles continue next week.

The Wisynco 2012 Queen's Prep Chess tournament was held last week. Winners were:

Open Section: 1.Tewana Mellace, 2. Stuart James, 3. Shreyas Smith.

Under-14 Boys: 1. Douglas Byfield, 2. Ricardo Smith-Stewart, 3. Nathan Belinfante.

Under-14 Girls: 1. Tina-Renee Johnson, 2. Akelia Donaldson.

Under-12 Boys: 1. Sheanel Gardner, 2. David Byfield, 3. Elias Issa.

Under-12 Girls: 1.t Sheanel Gardner, 2. Antonio Irons, 3. Cezanne Chin.

Under-10 Boys: 1. Leighton Barrett, 2. Aulanni Kidd, 3. Ethan Chang.

Under-10 Girls: 1. Aulanni Kidd, 2. Rochelle Porter, 3. Britney Foster.

Under-8 Boys: 1. Gabrielle Simpson, 2. Keith Smith, 3. Milan Benjamin.

Under-8 Girls: 1. Gabrielle Simpson, 2. Milan Benjamin, 3. Tara Lee Donald

Under-6 Boys: 1. Craig Grant

Other sponsors included the Liguanea Chess Club, Magnificent Chess Foundation and R&D Chess.

ChessMate Glossary

More from the official rules of chess: Rule 4.3 - Except as provided in Article 4.2, the player having the move deliberately touches on the chessboard: b. One or more of his opponent's pieces, he must capture the first piece touched which can be captured.

Upcoming tournaments

March 31: Challenge the Mind Chess Championships at Dinthill Technical High School.

April 6-April 10: Carifta Chess Tournament in Trinidad and Tobago.

April 13-19: National Chess Championships [Open and Women] at the Norman Manley Law School.

Email feedback, send in your games or upcoming tournaments to 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.