Stuart James captured the 2012 National Junior Chess Championships, which took place recently and featured the eight highest locally rated chess players under the age of 20. James, a second year student at the University of the West Indies, started the event as the favourite based on his recent performance in the John Powell Open in which he defeated and placed ahead of several National Masters to tie for first place.
However, despite also being the highest rated player in the field, James faced serious competition in the title race from former Under 18 Champion Tewana Mellace. Current Under 16 Champion Shreyas Smith was also considered a strong favourite as he also enjoyed great success in December when he defeated FIDE Master Shane Matthews to take the Cameron Open on a perfect score. Unfortunately he faltered early, losing to Laurence Davey and Mellace in rounds 2 and 3 respectively. This placed him out of possible contention for the title, as he failed to recover in subsequent rounds.
Mellace and James advanced through the following rounds tied at the top of the table, toppling all other players in the field. These included Horace Sinclair, Kareem Wright, Douglas Johnson, and Jonathon Orgill. Ultimately, both players met in the 6th round where a long struggle eventually ended in an agreed draw. The title was then decided by a thrilling 4-game play off, where James triumphed as the victor.
Gray Sweeps Girls Championships
The National Girls’ Chess Championships also took place concurrently and featured the top 6 rated female players under the age of 20. University of Technology student, Krishna Gray swept the event with a perfect unbeaten score of 6 points, ahead of Ariel Barrett and Alethia Edwards, who finished in second and third place with 5 and 3.5 points respectively.
James and Gray have both earned the right to officially represent Jamaica internationally, and will participate in the upcoming National Open and Women’s Championships scheduled for April 13-29, 2012.
Photo Caption: Stuart James (pictured) captured the 2012 National Junior Chess Championships after edging ahead of Tewana Mellace in a four game play-off