Cheers to Jamaica Chess at 43rd Olympiad

Thursday, October 11, 2018

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The Jamaica Chess delegation has come away from the 43rd Chess Olympiad held in Batumi, Georgia, with several internationally recognised chess titles, a wealth of experience, new contacts, and a seat on the World Chess Federation's governing body.

Over 180 countries participated in this supremely prestigious event where every serious chess player dreams of attending. China ended up being the winners in both the Open and Women's sections at the 43rd Olympiad, but Jamaica's delegation made its mark in Batumi, Georgia in more ways than one.

Wilkinson now sits at FIDE's decision-making table

Ian G Wilkinson, the long-time president of the Jamaica Chess Federation (JCF), made history for Jamaica last week Thursday when he was made an honorary vice-president of the World Chess Federation (FIDE) during the FIDE General Assembly held in Batumi, Georgia. Wilkinson's appointment was made by the new president of FIDE, Arkady Dvorkovich.

During the sitting of the GEneral Assembly, Wilkinson was also entrusted with another important position, as he was elected to serve on the Constitutional Commission of FIDE, a crucial arm of the governing body of chess. Of more than 20 people seeking appointments to several commissions, Wilkinson was the only candidate who was elected on the first day of voting, having received more than 50 per cent of the votes cast.

Jamaica Awarded 3 New FIDE Trainer Titles, 2 New FIDE Organiser Titles

Taking advantage of every opportunity afforded by this Olympiad trip, three non-playing members of the Jamaica delegation participated in a FIDE Trainer's Seminar which was held from September 26 to 29.

As a result of participation in this seminar, both Wilkinson and FM Shane Matthews (who was coach for the Women's Team) now have the designation of FIDE Instructor titles, while Terence Lindo (head of delegation) was awarded a National Instructor title.

Lindo and Wilkinson also successfully completed the FIDE International Organisers seminar, and were awarded the official certification for hosting FIDE tournaments.

Jamaica's Open team fought valiantly

Jamaica's Absolute team started out their journey at the 43rd chess Olympiad by facing Peru — a formidable opposition with three Grand Masters.

Although Jamaica lost that round, they went on to win four matches and draw two matches over the 11 rounds. Jamaica's men, led by captain International Master (IM) Jomo Pitterson, came away with a total of 26 board points for the team which was comprised of Fide Master (FM) Warren Elliott, FM Malaku Ras Lorne, Candidate Master (CM) Duane Rowe, CM Shreyas Smith, and FM Joshua Christie.

FM Warren Elliott, Jamaica's top rated player was the Board One player for 10 of the 11 matches played in Batumi, and had success in five games. His opponents had an average rating of 2249, some 43 points above Elliott's rating of 2206. Elliott will have a 12-point rating gain as a result of his success in the Olympiad, further building on his outstanding chess career, even while focused mainly on teaching chess to Jamaica's youth these days.

FM Malaku Ras Lorne, with a rating of 2161, gained four points from 10 games, with his most rewarding results surely coming from two draws — against South African's John Calvin Klaasen rated 101 points above Lorne, and Scotland's Clement Sreeves, rated 221 points higher.

CM Duane Rowe achieved an impressive 5.5 points from nine starts at the Olympiad, playing primarily on Board Three for much of the tournament. Even with this outstanding performance, the title of FIDE Master (FM) still eludes Rowe, who would have needed half a point more from his games. CM Rowe closed the show on a high note however, with a final round victory against his higher-rated opponent from Kosovo.

Shreyas Smith, who started out the tournament as a Candidate Master, was awarded his FM title during the Olympiad period, based on his performance at the recent regional Sub-Zonals tournament hosted in Jamaica.

Playing at the Olympiad for the second time, the new FM had a very respectable showing with a 50 per cent success rate for his efforts. He was able to capture a crucial half point from his opponent on the Scotland team, enabling Jamaica to draw that match against the much higher rated Scottish opponents. This was a fitting end to what can only be described as an incredible year for FM Smith.

FM Joshua Christie made his debut at the Olympiad as the youngest player on the Open Team at just 17 years of age. He was able to play seven rounds, from which he gained three board points for Jamaica.

Christie faced extremely tough opposition during the tournament — three International Masters and one Grand Master, with one of the highlights of the tournament being his defeat of a 50-year old Palestinian IM, his first “IM” scalp in competitive, over-the-board play.

Bravo to the Jamaican women in Batumi

Jamaica's women's team had watchers on the edge of our seats. A very successful start to the tournament had the Jamaica women in the gold medal hunt after Round nine of the 11-round tournament.

Tied for first place in their Category (D) with Paraguay, Sri Lanka and Thailand, Jamaica then met with much stronger opposition Mexico and Scotland in the final two rounds. Although the Jamaican women were overpowered by these final opponents, the performance of the team is to be congratulated given the strength of the opposition they faced during this 43rd Olympiad.

Highlights for the team would have to include a landslide victory against the much higher rated Nigerian Team (4-0), a win against regional rivals Dominican Republic (2.5 to 1.5) where WCM Ariel Barrett clutched the crucial winning point, and a draw against the far higher rated Bangladeshi team which included 2 WIM's and 2 WFM's. Another high point of the tournament for the women was the half point captured from the Estonian Women's Team by Adani Clarke, the youngest player on the Jamaican team. WCM Clarke was able to draw the game against an opponent rated 459 points higher than her.

The Jamaican women's team was captained by Jamaica's newest International Master, Shane Matthews, and included the 2018 National Women's Champion Krishna Gray, WCM Ariel Barrett, CM Rachel Miller, WCM Adani Clarke, and WCM Margoe Williams.

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