The Jamaica National Chess Championships got off to a thrilling start this weekend at the Spanish Court Hotel. The tournament, which is in its 44th edition, headlines with the highest ranked players in the history of the game in Jamaica competing in a new twenty-four player format. Super National Master (SNM) Duane Rowe, International Master Jomo Pitterson, defending champion Damion Davy and FIDE Masters Warren Elliott and Shane Matthews started as clear favorites. However, they have already faced serious opposition from their competitors.
In the first round, National Master Davy sufferred a shocking upset to National Under 16 Champion Shreyas Smith, while Elliott was forced to settle for a draw against the lower ranked Ian Wilkinson in a dead-locked game. The second round saw similiar setbacks, as Pitterson drew with the recently crowned CARIFTA Under-20 Champion Stuart James, and Rowe narrowly escaped defeat to salvage a draw against the defending Women’s Champion Deborah Richards-Porter. In the meanwhile, Matthews, who is a record seven-time champion, advanced to the top of the table scoring perfectly with three points after defeating Kenroy Smith and National Masters Mark Holness and Andrew Mellace in rounds one to three respectively.
Round four action will see exciting clashes between Matthews and Pitterson, and long time rivals Elliott and Rowe. Pitterson, Elliott and Rowe enter the fourth round with 2.5 points, and are trailed closely behind by Smith, James, Walter Williams and National Master Mikhail Solomon, who all have 2 points.
The National Women’s Championship, which is taking place concurrently, features the top eight female chess players in the island competing in a closed round-robin. Krishna Gray and Women’s Candidate Master Hui Zhu, who are both leading the event with 2.5 points from three games, will meet in the fourth round of action.
The tournament continues on April 20 at 6:00pm at the Spanish Court Hotel and is sponsored by the Sports Development Foundation, the Spanish Court Hotel, the Norman Manley Law School, and the Magnificent Chess Foundation.
Photo Caption: Women’s FIDE Master and record ten times Women’s Champion Deborah Richards-Porter (left) narrowly missed a winning move against Jamaica’s number one rated player Super National Master Duane Rowe (right) in second round action of the 44th Jamaica National Chess Championships. The game ended in a draw.