Chess blossoms at Library

Winners of the Valentine’s Day Junior Chess Classic with their trophies and prizes. Back Row:Jabari Lambert, Maia Labastide, Adam Alexis, Kristep Cassimire, Omari Waldron. Second Row: Daniel Bola, Jonathan Miller, Safia Lambert, Azikiwe Hinkson, Jonathan Paul and Jarryon Paul. Front Row: Ami Alexis, John Hill, Jonathan Aboud, Justin Labastide and Keanu Seecharan. In front, five year old Miahcel Taleb, youngest player in the tournament.

The National Library in Port-of-Spain will soon become a centre of activity for the country’s junior chess players. A programme for achieving this is being drawn up by the T&T Chess Foundation which has, within recent times, held a number of events at the venue, starting with an informal Friday afternoon playing room for its young chessists.

“We have begun a series of monthly tournaments at the Library,” says Edison Raphael, president of the Foundation, “and we are planning to use this venue more extensively in the future including the holding of lectures and seminars on the sport and other related activities.” Raphael thanked the Library authorities for the quiet and secure facility, which the Foundation hopes to use to expand its effort to popularise the sport of chess among the country’s young people. He was speaking to DOUBLE ROOKS after the Valentine’s Day Chess Classic which was the second junior tournament held in rated sections.

Instead of age-groups as before, the contest was organised in six categories in which players were more evenly matched according to the Foundation’s ELO rating system. The one-day, rapid-play tournament attracted a total of 56 youngsters with ratings ranging from 866 to 1600. They came largely from the Foundation’s three training centres of Port-of-Spain, Arima and St Augustine, but also from San Fernando and as far as Princes Town. Winners received trophies and cash prizes. Four players finished the five round event with perfect scores: Jarryon Paul of Fatima; Justin Labastide of Holistic Primary; Jabari Lambert of Blackman’s Private School; Azikiwe Hinkson of Diamond Vale Government.

The Valentine’s Day contest is the second Chess Foundation event which brings the format for running junior tournaments in line with international practice. The rating of players not only enables a more equitable matching of participants in competitions, it also creates another incentive for youngsters to improve their skills by seeking to increase their rating.

“These monthly contests are part of the Foundation’s on-going programme for helping junior players to advance their skills and to enjoy the sport of chess which confers educational benefits as well,” said Raphael. They are also a preparation for the Caribbean Chess Carnival which comes off at the Queen’s Park Oval from August 4 to 9. This is the only international tournament held annually in Trinidad, bringing together top players, both juniors and seniors, from across the Caribbean region and beyond.

The Winners:

Section 1: 1st. Jarryon Paul (1513) 5; 2nd. Omari Waldron (1500) 4; 3rd. Prithvi Ramakrishnan (1537) 3.

Section 2: 1st. Justin Labastide (1237) 5; 2nd. Ami Alexis (1120) 4; 3rd (tie) Paul Chin Fong (1000) and Keanu Seecharan (1155) 3.

Section 3: 1st. Jabari Lambert (1094) 5; 2nd. Adam Alexis (1029) 3.5; 3rd. Maia Labastide (1022) 3.

Section 4: 1st. Jonathan Paul (1283) 4; 2nd. Kristeph Cassimire (1392) 4; 3rd. Daniel Bhola (1289) 3.5.

Section 5: 1st, Azikiwe Hinkson (1000) 5; 2nd. Jonathan Aboud (971) 4; 3rd. Jonathan Miller (928) 3.

Section 6: 1st. Michael Taleb (941) 4; 2nd. John Hill (1000) 4; 3rd. Safiya Lambert (972) 4.