Regional chess players find going tough

International master Jomo Pitterson of Jamaica



On the opening night of the 40th World Chess Olympiad in Istanbul, Turkey, yesterday, the Jamaican men’s team narrowly missed the opportunity to score an upset when they lost 2 1?2 to 1 1?2 to an all grandmaster squad from Slovenia.

Clearly buoyed by the London success of their athletes, the confidence and focus of the Jamaican men was glaringly visible as they settled into a marathon match with the Slovenians.

Slovenia drew first blood when grandmaster Jure Borisek beat candidate master Duane Rowe on board 3. Jamaica retaliated on board 2 with a fine win and equaliser from international master Jomo Pitterson against grandmaster Matej Sebenik.

However, it was when FIDE master Warren Elliott held the legendary Slovenian grandmaster Alexander Beliavsky to a draw on board 1 that the severity of the situation for the Slovenians began to sink in. For not only had the Slovenians failed to gain the upper hand on their top two boards, a result their ratings would have predicted, but on board 4 grandmaster Jore Skoberne was entangled in a complicated end game against

Jamaica’s rising star Damian Davy. Skoberne eventually managed to squeeze a win from the

young Jamaican, but only after 5 1?2 hours of play in a match that was the last to finish for the entire Olympiad. For the rest of the Caribbean only Cuba managed to post a win in men’s action with a 4-0 drubbing of Japan.

The Dominican Republic playing top seeds Russia on Table 1 lost 3 1?2 – 1/2, as did Puerto Rico, Aruba and USVI against Croatia, Portugal and Scotland respectively.

Barbados lost to Greece 4-0; a result which did not reflect the competitiveness of the match. Playing for the Bajans were national champion Martyn Del Castilho, a member of the UWI Cave Hill Sports Programme, international masters Kevin Denny and Terry Farley and FIDE master Delisle Warner.

Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, Curacao and Haiti all suffered a similar 4-0 fate against Austria, Switzerland, Mexico and Canada. In the women’s section, it was again Cuba leading the charge for the Caribbean with a 4-0 victory over Finland.

For Barbados and the rest of the Caribbean it was a dismal start with Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados, Curacao, Aruba all losing by 4-0 margins against Poland, Serbia, Azerbaijan, England, Turkey, Sweden, Estonia and Canada.

Playing for the Barbadian women were Corinne Howard and local champion Katrina Blackman, both of whom are members of the UWI Cave Hill Sports Programme, woman candidate master Sheena Ramsay and Donna Forde. Round 2 sees the Barbados men paired against the team from the International Blind Association and the women against Bolivia. (AH)

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