In winning T&T chess crown...Harper scores a double double

RYAN HARPER scored a double double in winning the T&T national chess championship last Saturday. The first double is the fact that he has now won the title for the second time, having taken it first in 2002. The second double is the fact that he has again halted Christo Cave’s remarkable run of 13 victories in the championship contest, having first done so in 2002.

Harper, who graduated from the University of New Brunswick with a degree in business administration earlier this year, is undoubtedly a young chess player of geat talent, one might even say of grandmaster potential. He is, in fact, the first T&T player to earn the FIDE Mster title. However, exactly what his ambitions are in the game is hard to tell since he is not particularly communicative when talking about himself.

Asked whether he has any hope of matching or exceeding Cave’s exceptional record, Harper said characteristically, “All I can say is that I will continue to play chess. Whatever eventually happens, happens.”

Although he was beaten by Cave in their individual encounter, that was Harper’s only loss in the 11-round finals. He finished on nine points, ahead of second placed Yogendranath Ramsingh by 1.5 points. He conceded draws in his first two games to Dr Edison Chang and David Christopher, then proceeded to run through the tournament with a string of eight victories.

On the other hand, the defending champion who started impressively with four straight wins ran into stiff opposition from FM Mario Merritt, Ravishen Singh, Ramsingh and Dr Chang, losing to all four.

Meanwhile, two-time champion Ramsingh overcame his first round setback against first-time finalist Hayden Lee to score six wins and two draws, beating Cave in the tenth round to set up a virtual final between himself and Harper.

The game, however, did not live up to expectations. Instead of an epic struggle, it turned out to be an illustrtion of the fact that chess, although it is not a game of chance, can sometimes be flawed by blunders and missed opportunities. The fact is that Ramsingh, playing a positional Sicilian with the black pieces, should have won a bishop, and quite likely the game and the championship, on move 27 but, instead, went for an exchange of bishop for rook, giving Harper an unstoppable mate - ironically using the same bishop he should have lost!

The following is the game:

1) e4 c5; 2) Nf3 e6; 3) d4 cd; 4) Nd4 Qb6; 5) Nb3 Qc7; 6) Bd3 Nc6; 7) Nc3 a6; 8) Be3 Nf6; 9) f4 d6; 10) a4 b6; 11) Qf3 Bb7; 12) 00 Be7; 13) R(a)e1 00; 14) Qh3 g6; 15) Rf3 R(f)e8; 16) R(e)f1 Nb4; 17) Qg3 d5; 18) N(b)d2 de; 19) N(d)e4 Nd3; 20) cd R(a)d8; 21) Nf6 Bf6; 22) Ne4 Bg7; 23) Rc1 Qb8; 24) Qh4 Rd3; 25) f5 ef; 26) Nf6 Bf6; 27) Qf6 Bf3; 28) Bh6 Black resigns.

The final scores: Harper 9; Ramsingh 7.5; Christo Cave 7; Dr Edison Chang 7; Sean Perryman 7; Mario Merritt 7; Ravishen Singh 5.5; David Christopher 5; Frank Yee 3.5; Cecil Lee 2.5; Hayden Lee 1.

Harper confirmed his strength by winning the blitz tournament which preceded the prize giving ceremony on Sunday.

The open tournament which ran alongside the national finals was won by Kurtis Chong who finished with six out of seven points. Guelmo Rosales also scored six points but took second spot by the tie-breaker. Third was Prakash Persad on five while the fourth place was shared by Paul Browne, Justin Salloum, Frank Furlonge, Andrew Bowles and Carl Jacobs, all on 4.5.

At the final ceremony... Srinivasan Gopalan, Managing Director of New India Assurance pledged his company’s continued support for the tournament and complimented the Association for its professional organisation. Also expressing continued support was Lisa Sargeant of Heartbeat 103.5 FM radio which gave extensive couverage to the contest.

Kurtis Chong called on the Association to hold an Open Forum to chart the way forward for chess.

The RAND Credit Union was also commended for providing a comfortable venue for the finals. Appreciation was also expressed for the work of arbiters, Dr Gregory Boyce, John Raphael and Geoffrey Marcelle.

Article by Carl Jacobs
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