Tournament results show....T&T juniors dominate Caribbean chess scene

Trinidad and Tobagoís young chess players are emerging as the major force in Caribbean competition, as the results in recent regional tournaments are showing. Our players have dominated both the Sagicor Open Junior Championships held in Barbados at the end of last month and the CMMB Caribbean Junior Championships which took place at Bishop Anstey High School in Port-of-Spain last week. T&Tís emergence is seen in the fact that our youngsters have won more prizes in these contests than the players of any other country.

Group of T&Tís junior chess players who represented the country at the recent Sagicor Open Championships in Barbados together with T&TCF coach Kurtis Chong (back row left). The team included Christopher Raphael, Justin Salloum, Kevin Cupid, Joseph Gill, Keron Cabralis, Esan Wiltshire, Marcus Joseph, Kiran Maharaj, Jayson Paul, Chantal Fitzpatrick, Sterling Ramroach, Prasanna Ramkrishnan, Jarryon Paul, Prithvi Ramakrishnan, Alpacino Smith, Javanna Smith, Vandorf Smith, and Kyle Lynch.

One can only hope that these two tournaments will grow in stature and participation, bringing together more and more young people from more and more countries of the Caribbean to compete in a sport that can ideally serve as another platform for fostering amity and unity among the peoples of the region.

The spirit of friendly rivalry which existed among junior chess players at both tournaments bodes well not only for the future of the game in our little part of the world but also for the active nurturing of a common consciousness within the youth of our various societies. Chess, because of its intellectual and creative appeal, because of the camaraderie among its devotees, because of the admiration it inspires for those who play it well, is perhaps uniquely suited to building bridges among different peoples, more so among those of a formative age.

Over the last few years, the annual Sagicor Open has demonstrated the truth of this by establishing a healthy rivalry between the junior players of Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago. At the CMMB championships, organised by the T&T Chess Foundation, this friendship was a delightful and encouraging feature of the event, especially since it was expanded to players from Jamaica, Suriname and Curacao.

Speaking to Double Rooks after the prize giving function, Edison Raphael, president of the Foundation, said he was pleased with the cooperation of chess associations of participating countries, especially of Suriname and Curacao whose juniors were playing in a T&T tournament for the first time. ďWe have been promised even greater cooperation for next yearís contest which we hope will be an even bigger event, with more players and countries taking part.Ē

As good fortune would have it, the tournament has found a sponsor, Caribbean Money Market Brokers, who are only too happy to support the Foundationís effort in developing the event as the premier contest for junior players in the region. Ram Ramesh, CMMBís CEO, told Double Rooks that his company sees this as fulfilling part of its social responsibility as the largest brokerage firm in the region.

At the Sagicor Open, T&Tís players took the lionís share of prizes, particularly in the age groups. Overall, the tournament was won by two Barbadians, Martyn Del Castihlo and Justin Blackman with T&Tís Christopher Raphael placing third. In the U-16 and U-12 categories, all the prize winners were Trinidadians, Justin Salloum, Kevin Cupid, Joseph Gill, Keron Cabralis, Prasanna Ramakrishnan and Jarryon Paul, respectively. Among the U-14s, Joseph Gill and Keron Cabralis took first and second prizes, with Alex Jackman of Barbados taking third. In the U-10 category, Prasanna Ramakrishnan was tops with Jarryon Paul second and Omari Teka of Barbados third.

The performance of T&Tís players was even more impressive at the CMMB championships where they captured all of the first prizes among a field of 87 competitors. The U-20 category saw an exciting race up to the finish, with Marcus Joseph, the national junior champion, FIDE-rated Allan Munro and rising star Justin Salloum sharing first place with 5.5 points each from the 7-round event. They each collected a cash prize of $1,300. Half a point behind them were Shardul Paricharah of Curacao, Shamel Howard of Barbados and Brandon Wilson of Jamaica.

In the U-14 division, national U-14 champion Christopher Raphael played unbeaten to finish with a winning score of 6 points. Raphael conceded draws against Barbadian Ňlex Jackman and T&Tís Rafael Guerrero who placed second and third respectively.

T&Tís Jarryon Paul edged out Omari Teka of Barbados by half a point to win the U-10 section with 6.5 points. Rosangela Dos Ramos of Suriname ended in third place with 5 points, followed by Prasanna Ramakrishnan and Xavier Mansour of Barbados on 4.5 points each.

Chantal Fitzpartick, national U-16 champion, won the prize for the best U-16 player while Ňvikaar Malgie of Suriname took the award for the best U-16 male. Special prizes for the best male and female U-12 players went to Prithvi Ramakrishnan and Yanna Lopez. Melissa Pereira received a special prize for the best female player among the U-14s.

The constantly improving performance of T&Tís junior chess players must be credited to the consistent and structured training programme of the T&T Chess Foundation which is expanding its coaching activities to different part of the country.

Article by Carl Jacobs
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