Jamaica's FM Matthews, Dom Rep's WCM Vasquez secure SubZonal 2.3.5 victories

Saturday, June 30, 2018

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After five days of fierce competition over nine rounds, Jamaica's FIDE Master (FM) Shane Matthews and the Dominican Republic's Woman's Candidate Master (WCM) Jennifer Maria Almanzar Vasquez created history in winning the Absolute and Female sections of the 2018 SubZonal 2.3.5 recently held at Knutsford Court Hotel.

Barbados Chess Federation President Allan Hebert, who was representing Señor Jorge Vega, described the organisation of the event as top-class and was proud at how Jamaica set the record for the largest SubZonal 2.3.5 to date, with 92 players in both sections combined.


Absolute Section

After finishing in seventh place at the 2016 SubZonal in Barbados, FM Matthews won the 2018 staging undefeated to become the second Jamaican to win the SubZonal, becoming an International Master (IM) after IM Jomo Pitterson in 2010.

“I feel really proud at winning the SubZonal's and finally becoming an IM. The event was full of some extremely tough games, where I was always low on time due to the complexity of those games. I must applaud the upcoming juniors who played exceptionally well in such a high quality-event,” FM Matthews said.

Second place was a tie among four players who each finished on seven points. After tiebreaks were utilised, the Dominican Republic's FM Christopher Guzman was second, Barbadian Martyn Del Castilho was third, Jamaica's FM Malaku Lorne was fourth, and FM Joshua Christie was fifth.

The top four players from the Absolute SubZonal 2.3.5 qualified directly for the 2019 Zonal 2.3, which is one of the World Chess Championship qualifying paths. The 2019 Zonal 2.3, to be held in Venezuela, will see the top players from the region-including several Grandmasters (GM) and IMs — facing off for the chance to secure one of the two spots to the 2019 Chess World Cup to be held in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.

With the significance of such an international event, there was also the opportunity for players to win titles for their country. The players from the Dominican Republic, who are duly qualified for the FM titles include Leonardo Rafael Estevez Polanco, Luis L Lorenzo De Los Santos and Braulio Fernando Ramirez Reyes, while Yoel Estarling Polanco Nunez qualified for the Candidate Master (CM) title.

Fourteen-year-old three-time Carifta champion CM Alan-Safar Ramoutar also qualified for the FM title, while CM Anthony Drayton still has to meet the published rating requirement before he can be awarded the FM title.

Jamaica recorded the highest number of newly titled players, with CM Shreyas Smith qualified for the FM title only a few months after obtaining his CM title. The players who are qualified for the CM title include Malik Curriah, Alain Morris, National Master (NM) Andrew Mellace, NM Kevin Merritt, NM Stuart James and NM Paul Brooks.

It is quite notable that St Catherine High juniors Jhustice-Dimonte McDonald and Raheem Glaves, and St Jago's NM Akeem Brown were able to achieve the minimum point requirement for the FM title, but will not be awarded the title until they meet the published rating requirement regulation.

Other players who are also qualified for the CM title subject to meeting the 2000 rating bar include NM Ryan Blackwood, Nathan Hinds, Christopher Lyn, Christopher Murdock, Andre Soares, Jaden Shaw, Horace Sinclair, Di-Jaun Smith, and Angelus-Seren Mcdonald.


Female Section

WCM Jennifer Vasquez finished undefeated on a solid seven points, with her victory being clear after defeating WCM Ariel Barrett in the final round.

WCM Vasquez was relieved after winning her final game in what was a difficult event filled with many emotions and tough decisions. She felt a lot of pride at being the first winner for the Dominican Republic in the SubZonals, and being the first WIM elect as well.

She described her game against CM Rachel Miller as her most difficult, and said she was looking forward to returning home with her grand victory. She said that she was going to meet her trainer and plan further as to how she will proceed with plans for next year's Zonals.

Barbados' WCM Katrina Blackman and Jamaica's CM Rachel Miller were tied for second place on 6.5 points, with WCM Blackman adjudged second after tie-breaks. As a result of finishing second and third, respectively, both players were awarded Woman International Master (WIM) norms with WCM Blackman being qualified subject to the published rating requirement for the WFM title. This was CM Miller's fourth WIM norm, which leaves her just to meet the rating requirement to be awarded the WIM title.

Fourth place went to Surinamese WFM Rosangela Dos Ramos, who finished on 5.5 points. Fifth place was a tie among six players who all finished on five points.

After tiebreaks were used, WCM Barrett was fifth, WCM Adani Clarke sixth, Bahamian WCM Polina Karelina was seventh, Guyanese WFM Maria Varona-Thomas was eighth, WCM Margoe Williams in ninth place, and Krishan Gray finishing in 10th place.

It was also noteworthy that national women's champion Krishna Gray is now a WCM-Elect subject to her reaching the published rating requirement.

The 2019 Female Zonal 2.3 to be held in Colombia will see the top players from the region competing for one spot to advance to the Women's World Chess Championship. The top four players from the Female SubZonal 2.3.5 are qualified directly into next year's Zonal.

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