Jamaica's Absolute and Female chess teams qualified for the 2023 Central American and Caribbean Games (CAC Games) to be held in San Salvador, El Salvador, June 23-July 8.
Thirty-seven countries from Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean will be competing in 38 sports. This will be the first time that chess will be part of these games.
On January 21 and 22 countries competed for 15 spots in both the Absolute and Female sections. In the Absolute section, Jamaica qualified by finishing in 10th place and in the female group, Jamaica qualified by finishing 8th.
The Absolute team consisted of Jamaica's top two players, four-time national champion FIDE Master (FM) Shreyas Smith and FM Joshua Christie, who currently has the highest rating in Jamaica at FIDE 2294.
Christie contributed 6 points and Smith 5.5 points for a total Absolute team score of 11.5 points. Cuba, the number one seed, won with 17 points, followed by Colombia, 15 points, Mexico, 13.5 points, Honduras, 13 points & Panama, 13 points: rounding out the top five teams.
Amongst English-speaking nations, Jamaica finished ahead of Barbados (10.5 points), St Lucia (10.5 points), Trinidad (9 points), Cayman Islands (7 points) and Grenada (5 points.)
Jamaica's female team consisted of Woman Candidate Master (WCM) Raehanna Brown, one of the country's strongest juniors and eight-year-old Emilia-Rose Leake, the youngest participant. Brown scored 6.5 points and Leake scored 5 points, for also a total of 11.5 points for the team.
Cuba was also the number one seed in the female group and won the section with 15.5 points, ahead of Colombia, 14.5 points, Puerto Rico, 14 points, Costa Rica, 14 points and Mexico, 13.5 points: rounding out the top five teams on the female side.
After the qualifier, president of the Jamaica Olympic Committee Christopher Samuda, who was on hand to witness the historic event, addressed the Jamaican teams.
"The JOA has been a strong advocate to get chess into the CAC Games. Jamaica earned the right to be in the competition and as such, he urged the teams to be very competitive in El Salvador. Let's transform the game and leave a mark on the table. We must establish a pathway for future players, while above all, be true ambassadors for our country."