Masters knockout heats up to promise exciting finish

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

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The IM Jomo Pitterson Masters Knockout (MKO) got off to an impressive start at the Eden Garden Wellness Resort and Spa where the top players in the country are vying against each other in this tournament, which is open only to national or internationally titled chess masters.

Trinidadian Fide Master (FM) Marcus Josephs has produced some of the most electric games so far in the MKO event. His first game against National Master (NM) Andrew Mellace paid homage to the World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen in starting off with his knight to a3. His endgame eventually cost him this first game, but the game set the tone for what was to come in this match-up.

The second game was just as intense — in response to Mellace's e4 push FM Joseph was able to bring his opponent into a positional grind. Josephs lost on time, but despite being down two games and NM Mellace only needing a draw to advance to the next round of the tournament, Josephs rose to the occasion.

After careful preparation, Josephs played a book opening, gained a positional advantage and converted to a superb endgame where his mighty bishop was too much for NM Mellace's paralysed knight. This put the score at 2-1 with one more round left to determine the winner of the match-up.

The junior FM elects Raheem Glaves and NM Akeem Brown had a very scintillating match where both players gave their all in every game to produce the best match of the quarter-finals. The first match saw a King's Indian opening where the game went back and forth between both players, but in the end, Glaves won with Brown resigning to avoid the loss of his queen.

The second game saw Glaves utilise strong endgame skills to carry home the point, only to be outplayed in the third game where his French Defence was cracked wide open and torn to pieces. Despite this loss, Glaves came better prepared than NM Brown in the final game and used his extra pawn to seal the draw and advance to the next round with a score of 2.5-1.5.

Rising star NM Malik Curriah was unable to continue his impressive streak as he fell to NM Stuart James in what was the comeback of the event. NM Curriah started out with an astounding win in the Ruy Lopez variation where he utilised his extra minor piece to secure the win, but later fell in the second game to NM James's impressive play and final fork with his bishop in the endgame.

NM James then played a successful Open Defence line of the Ruy Lopez and quiet line of the English in games three and four, respectively, to carry home the victory 2.5-1.5.

Defending champion FM Shreyas Smith blanketed NM Paul Brooks 3-0 to advance to the semi-final stage with ease. FM Smith crushed NM Brooks' Scandinavian opening twice and left him to resign in the final game after exposing Brooks' king and setting up a stellar fork with his rook on the sixth rank.

The IM Jomo Pitterson Masters Knockout is named after one of Jamaica's most decorated and successful chess players to date. In addition to being Jamaica's first International Master, he was also the first Jamaican to win both the Caribbean Junior Chess Championship and Barbadian Open Junior Championship. These accomplishments also include being one of only four Jamaican players to defeat a Grandmaster in classical play, winning the Jamaica Chess Federation (JCF) Player of the Year and Jamaican Chess Championship three times, winning the second edition of the Subzonal 2.3.5, participating in six Olympiads and serving on the JCF Council as treasurer and vice-president.

The MKO is open only to national or internationally titled chess masters and uses an exciting knockout format until there is one “king” left standing. The tournament, which was organised by the Jamaica Chess Federation, was made possible with the kind support of the Eden Gardens Wellness Resort and Spa, Christar Villas Hotel, Jamaica Olympic Association, Sports Development Foundation, Proven Investments Limited and the Kasparov Chess Foundation.

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