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Jamaica cop bronze at CAC Chess Championships

Friday, August 18, 2017

When the last checkmate was delivered at the 15th Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Youth Chess Championships in Panama, Jamaica had secured an overall third -place finish behind regional chess powerhouses Cuba and Colombia.

The Jamaican team, led by individual silver medallists Joshua Christie, the national Under-16 champion and national Under-8 girls champion Zaina O'Connor, returned to the island on Wednesday, beaming with pride after their outstanding display.

With his performance, Christie earned the fourth highest international title Candidate Master (CM) and needs only to attain an international rating of 2,100 to be awarded the third highest international title of FIDE Master (FM). The 15-year-old now at 2050 FIDE rating points, only requires approximately 60 rating points to get to achieve that target, which would make him Jamaica's youngest National Master (NM) in a generation.

His performance was even more relishing, as he entered the tournament seeded behind five players from Cuba, Colombia, Venezuela, Panama and the Dominican Republic.

Meanwhile, young O'Connor, showed tenacity in overcoming illness during the tournament to finish strongly in her silver medal performance.

The tournament took place across nine rounds over seven days and was characterised by intense strategic and tactical struggles in matches lasting over four hours at times.

Jamaica were declared third based on the composite performance of their players from among 16 countries in Central America and the Caribbean. Approximately 271 players participated in the almost one-week- long championships.

Competing across 12 categories — from Under-8 to Under-18, Absolute and Female — Jamaica fielded their national champion in each age cohort in addition to other highly ranked Jamaican players.

In seizing the coveted podium spot, Jamaica were first among their counterparts in the English-speaking Caribbean and ahead of Spanish-speaking Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala and hosts Panama.

Mikhail Solomon, national junior coach, expressed delight with the team's performance.

“The Jamaican team overcame enormous odds in winning the bronze trophy [and] this just shows the tremendous wealth of talent we possess in addition to the intangible inheritance of confidence, grit, resilience and determination. We hope that this performance encourages additional support for Jamaican chess,” Solomon, a National Master (NM) noted.

Other members of the teamswere: Cameron Coe, Christian Rampair, Kishan Clarke, Aidan Rampair, Jahvier Grant, Laila Griffiths, Jaya-Rene Richards, Terisha-Lee Thompson, Gabriella Watson, (CM) David Thomas, Mikhail Bond, Addison Abrahams, Raehanna Brown, Johmoi Blake, Leighton Barrett, Shahine Richards, Lontae Walker, Nicholas Lyn, (WCM) Adani Clarke, Aulanni Kidd, Rashade Lungrin, Jhustice McDonald, Ashanti Blackwood, Rochelle Porter, Akeem Brown, (CM) Rachel Miller and Davica Chambers.