The land of sun, music, beaches and chess! By Dr. Daaim Shabazz
Trinidad is a land of natural
beauty. A land of pride touting the infectious rhythm of
Soca, the soothing beats of steel pan music and of the cricket
Brian Lara. Its famous Maracas Beach is an attractive site for
millions of tourists and the Carnival is reputed to be among the
world’s best. Thus, it is fitting that the 2010 Caribbean Chess
Carnival would find a home in such a hospitable climate.
Fortunately, I arrived to experience the August 1st “Emancipation
It was a beautiful display of
pageantry with all participants wearing beautiful African garments
celebrating emancipation from slavery.
Edison Raphael, President of the
Trinidad and Tobago Chess Foundation had an idea three years ago to
have an Open section in what had been the “Caribbean Junior Chess
Championship” since 2002.
Queen's Royal College, the oldest secondary school in Trinidad
"The College" is noted for its
famous German Renaissance architecture and tradition of
multi-faceted education which continues to produce some of Trinidad
and Tobago's leading thinkers, athletes, artists and politicians.
Acknowledging the request of coaches who also wanted to play chess
during the tournament, Raphael arranged to have the senior players
compete and dubbed it the “Caribbean Chess Carnival.” The venue
would be the famous Queen’s Park Cricket Club.
Trinidad Staff: Edison Raphael, Christopher Raphael, Harry Amow
This year’s event attracted 147
players from ten countries including GM Gennadi Sagalchik of the USA
and seven International Masters. There were four sections: Open (38
players), under-20 (25 players), under-14 (28 players) and under-10
(35 players). There were also a junior and an adult novice
tournament. The Open section was hotly contested, with the Venezuela
contingent of IM Rafael Prasca Sosa and IM Julio Ostos vying for top
spot. IM Humberto Pecorelli of Cuba had won for three consecutive
years, but was unable to travel to defend the crown.
GM Gennadi Sagalchik of New York hoists 1st place trophy at the
Nigerian IM Oladapo Adu was leading
the tournament after Sagalchik had accepted a couple of quick draws.
The pivotal match between Sagalchik and Adu ended when the Nigerian
disastrously lost a piece and didn’t have enough counterplay for
compensation. Sagalchik added another win before coasting to two
draws and a 7/9 score. Prasca and Ostos ended on 6.5/9 while 4th-7th
was shared by IM Kevin Denny (Barbados), IM Terry Farley (Barbados),
IM Nestor Velez Betancourt (Cuba) and German Herrera (Venezuela).
Top final standings
GM Gennadi Sagalchik
IM Rafael Prasca Sosa
IM Julio Ostos
IM Kevin Denny
IM Terry Farley
IM Nestor Velez
IM Oladapo Adu
Martyn Del Castilho
Perhaps one footnote was the
performance of 11-year-old Josh Colas, the scholastic All-American
player from White Plains, New York. He entered the Open section with
fanfare and did not disappoint. Colas played enterprising chess
culminating with a win over four-time Trinidadian champion FM Ryan
Harper. In the interview, he stated that he wanted to avoid Harper’s
preparation in the mainline Sicilian Dragon.
Joshua Colas battling FM Ryan Harper in round seven of the
Caribbean Chess Carnival.
Harper trots out his pet Dragon, but Colas eschews the main lines
(which Harper knows well)
In the under-20 section, two FIDE
Masters dominated the event clearing the field by 1.5 points. FM
David Finol Berrueta of Venezuela won on tiebreaks over hometown
favorite FM Keron Cabralis due his win in their head-to-head
encounter. He suffered one loss against 3rd place winner Vishnu
Singh of Trinidad.
The under-14 section saw Trinidad’s
Joshua Johnson dominate the section with a blistering 8.5/9. He
surrendered only one draw to fourth place Pierre Chang of the
Netherlands and beat secondnd place winner Christian Ammon and third
place Jarryon Paul, both of Trinidad.
Wasudha Malgie analyzing with IM Nestor Velez, the Suriname
Suriname made a strong showing in
the tournament entering their top juniors in each section. Led by
Wasudha Malgie, President of the Combinatie Sport Vereniging (CSV)
Chess Club, they belong to a club of about 80 members. Malgie was a
member of Suriname’s women’s Olympiad team in Turin, Italy in 2006.
One of her students won third place in the under-10.
Ashwari Akloe (above) of Suriname
started with five straight wins and led the section until she
suffered successive losses to Jamaican Lawrence Foreman and
Trinidadian Justin Labastide in rounds six and seven. Labastide
sprinted past both of these players with seven straight wins to take
first with 8/9. Foreman ended on 7/9 and Akloe took third with
Prakash Ramadhar, Minister of Legal Affairs (right) joined
Sagalchik and Edison Raphael at the beginning of the last round
Before the last round Prakash
Ramadhar, Minister of Legal Affairs, gave congratulatory remarks to
the Foundation and discussed the importance of chess in helping
shape the minds of the future. The youngsters, in particular, were
eager to have their photographs taken with the minister. After the
last round, there was the awards ceremony for the various
categories. Marcia La Borde, Executive Director of T&T Chess
Foundation performed the honors. The top ten in each category were
given trophies and the top five gained additional cash prizes. The
event was a rousing success and many made pledges to return.
The tournament participants and
guests were then treated to steel drum and calypso performances.
Luke Walker in the under-10 section played the Trinidad and Tobago
national anthem and “waka waka,” a famous ode to Africa that star
Shakira performed at the 2010 World Cup. Calypso Queen Denyse
Plummer excited the crowd with her energetic performance ending a
festive week of chess activities. The dates for next year’s event
will be August 2nd-7th, 2011 in Port of Spain, Trinidad.
If you plan to come next year, make
sure to come a couple of days early so you can experience eating of
“doubles” along side the road, coconut water from a vendor or the
“bake and shark” delicacy. You may even find time to climb the peak
along Lady Chancellor’s road or ferry over to the beautiful island
of Tobago and take in the sites in its resplendid beauty. The hosts
of the Caribbean Chess Carnival seem to ensure that the attendees
have a good time and the island of full of life and spirit. While
you will need to come in February to experience the real Carnival,
as a chess experience, it is great experience!
“Emancipation Day Parade” in Trinidad
A local dance group, in special outfits designed for the parade
Muslim ladies looking beautiful in their colorful garments
About the author: Dr. Daaim
Shabazz is the creator and webmaster of
The Chess Drum.
He serves as a tenured faculty member at Florida A&M University in
Tallahassee, Florida, USA, where he teaches international business.
He has served the journalist community for 20 years (including a
short stint with Sports Illustrated in New York) and is a member of
Chess Journalists of America.