Magnificent Chess, the new kid on the block, and chief sponsors Burger King combined to produce the biggest and strongest open chess tournament in Jamaica’s history with the staging of the Jamaica Chess Federation’s 2007 Frederick Cameron Chess Open, a six-round Swiss event that was held over two days on Saturday December 15 and Sunday December 16, 2007.

The venue was the Jamaica Conference Centre, the site of the International Seabed Authority, and a record registration of more than two hundred players made the event truly exciting. The tournament, named in honour of one of the founding fathers of Jamaican chess and a former president of the Jamaica Chess Federation, finished on a bang with National Master Jomo Pitterson producing a brilliant performance in the final round of the Open Section to defeat the celebrated international Jamaican-born grandmaster Maurice Ashley who was playing his first tournament on his native soil.

Heading into the final round Ashley was on 5 points and needed only a draw to clinch first place. Pitterson was on 4.5 points and needed to win to ensure that he took the top honours. The Campion College past student showed that his great results in 2007 (including performances abroad in tournaments in Curacao and Trinidad & Tobago) were no fluke as he brought the house down, his victory being greeted with tremendous applause in what was fittingly the final game to finish in the tournament. GM Ashley, who has sworn to help Jamaican chess rise in the chess world, praised Pitterson for his effort and was gracious and philosophical in defeat, taking time out to hand the winner’s trophy to Pitterson during the awards ceremony. He said that his loss was great for Jamaican chess.

Second place went to Ashley while there was a tie for third place with Barbadian FM Phillip Corbin and Jamaican national masters Brandon Wilson, Shane Matthews, Russel Porter and Geoffrey Byfield all finishing on 4.5 points. Corbin came out ahead on the tie-breaks. It was obvious from the beginning that the event would have been one of the highest calibre on local soil as in addition to GM Ashley there were two Fide Masters, eleven national masters and a number of candidate masters in a field of approximately fifty players.

Apart from Ashley and Corbin the tournament’s international flavour was spiced up by the competitive presence of Barbadian Allan Herbert, the chairman of CACDEC (a commission established by the world chess federation to provide assistance for developing chess countries) and Trinidadian Edison Raphael the chairman of the Trinidad & Tobago chess foundation. The Amateur Section, with approximately seventy players, was won by Kareem Wright and the Beginners/Unrated Section, with more than one hundred players registered, was won by Samantha Nelson.

Ian Wilkinson, President Jamaica Chess Federation (Dec. 18, 2007)

Pitterson Upsets GM Maurice Ashely in Fred Cameron Open

Jomo Pitterson scored an exciting final round upset win over Grandmaster Maurice Ashely to take the 2007 Burger King Fred Cameron Open Chess Tournament over the weekend in Kingston, Jamaica.

Grandmaster Ashely came second and has kindly shared the attached game with his analysis. FIDE Master Dr. Philip Corbin of Barbados placed 3rd, having lost the penultimate round against Grandmaster Ashley and drawing with Shane Matthews of Jamaica in the final round.

Having attended the tournament, I was most impressed Grandmaster Ashley’s gracious demenour through out the tournament, the way he carried himself, handled uncomfortable situation of losing to Pitterson in the last round but most of all his genuine interest in the development of Jamaican Chess.

Jamaican by birth, Grandmaster Ashley migrated to the US at the age of 12 and made chess history by becoming the first black Chess Grandmaster.

Today Grandmaster Ashley still travels on his Jamaican passport and is a proud chess ambassador and role model for Jamaican Chess Players.

While in Jamaica, Grandmaster Ashley gave the key note speech at the launch of the Magnificent Chess Foundation where he recounted the positive role chess has made to his life growing up as a Jamaica immigrant in the dangerous inner city of New York.

His work with young inner city kids is world renown and is one of the most often quoted models for chess as a an educational and socio-development tool with at risk kids.

Grandmaster Ashley is one of the most sought after chess speakers and coaches in the US and shared with the writer an exciting new project he has been contracted to assist with, the introduction of chess in the prison system.

Attached is a press release from tournament organizer Ian Wilkinson of Jamaica plus a selection of photos.

Finally below is some advice from the Grandmaster himself which I encourage all coaches and players to take to heart.

There are no short cuts.

I wish you and your family all the best for the season and, many glorious wins in the New Year.

Allan Herbert