'Magnificent Chess Tournament' in Jamaica

4/20/2009 – Magnificent Chess Limited (MCL) is a new and innovative enterprise to revolutionize the mindset of Jamaican people and their Caribbean neighbours, through the democratization of the art of learning, teaching and playing chess. The organisers hosted a tournament which was duly won by the only GM in the Master's section, Alfonso Romero Holmes. Big pictorial report from Jamaica.

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International Masters Clash at UWI Chess Society

By Zachary Ramsay and Kenville Lockhart

The UWI Chess Society in collaboration with the Magnificent Chess Foundation struck gold this past March, in successfully hosting the strongest and largest chess tournament Jamaica has ever seen. The tournament, “The Magnificent Chess UWI Open”, saw the advancement of the quality of chess played within Jamaica featuring a highlighted Master’s section. Within this section GM Alfonso Romero Holmes (Spain), IM Jose Vilela (Cuba), FM Delisle Warner (Barbados), and FM Bengt Hammar (Sweden) went against three of Jamaica’s best, FM Warren Elliot, FM Jomo Pitterson and NM Shane Mathews. These masters exhibited a superior level of chess to over 400 budding players also participating within the Open, Intermediate, Beginners and Scholastic sections of the tournament, at the University of the West Indies Mona's Assembly Hall.

GM Holmes, finishing the tournament in grand fashion with no losses and a result of 5.5 games out of 6 after taking a draw against IM Jose Vilela, brought no surprise to the spectators of the event winning the Master’s Section. Locals FM Warren Elliot and NM Shane Mathews gave Jamaica a strong finish coming in second and third respectively with the same result of 3.5 points, separated based on tie break scores. Additionally, the Open, Intermediate, and Beginner sections were won by NM Russell Porter, Kenville Lockhart, and Trevor Bennet respectively. A major highlight of the event was the scholastic section in which over 200 school children battled with their minds. Hwananani Feledi, Kenville Lockhart and NM Brandon Wilson were the top University players in the Beginners, Intermediate and Open sections respectively.

Final standings

The event was sponsored by Guardian Life Limited, General Accident Insurance Company and Supreme Ventures Limited, all of whom clearly aspire towards building a brighter and smarter Jamaica.


The flag of Jamaica [photography by David Madden]


The beautiful mural outside the venue at the Assembly Hall, University of the West Indies Mona, Jamaica

The beginning of the event saw Ian Wilkinson (above, left), President of the Jamaica Chess Federation and Chairman of Magnificent Chess Foundation, officially launch Magnificent Chess Foundation's “Chess in Schools” programme with the support of local Political Minister the Hon. Mike Henry (right).


IM José Vilela draws his lot, with FA Robert Wheeler, arbiter of the event, guiding at the podium


FM Warren Elliott, top local player, draws his lot

Post game analysis, with FM Hammar (second left), National Juniour Champion Damion Davy (third left), FM Pitterson, and National Champion NM Equitable Brown look on.

GM Alfonso Romero Holmes and seven time National Champion NM Shane Matthews analyze after their game, while FM Bengt Hammar, NM Russel Porter and FM Delisle Warner look on. Here's an important game from the tournament, annotated by Warren.

The players of the Masters Section, (left to right): FM Warner (Barbados), IM Vilela (Cuba), GM Alfonso Romero Holmes (Spain), FM Bengt Hammar (Sweeden), FM Pitterson (Jamaica), NM Shane Matthews (Jamaica), FM Warren Elliott (Jamaica)


The scholastic section, with around 200 school players from various primary and secondary schools in Jamaica


School children analyzing at the venue


The winner, GM Holmes, speaks to the spectators


FM Bengt Hammar


IM José Vilela from Cuba


FM Jomo Pitterson (Jamaica's latest FIDE Master after an
unbeaten performance at the Dresden Olympiad)


Prior to the main event, National Champion NM Equitable Brown battled Fritz in a 'Man vs Machine' match


Equitable is quite content with a draw!

Ocho Ríos (also known by the nickname Ochie), Spanish for Eight Rivers, is a town on the northern coast of Jamaica, located in the parish of Saint Ann. It is a popular tourist destination, well known for scuba diving and other water sports. It was once a fishing village until it was discovered and is now a popular tourist destination in the Caribbean as well as a famous stop for cruise ships going into the Caribbean. The population is about 96,000.


The clear waters of Ocho Rios Bay, where the players visited [photo by David Madden]


Dunn's River Falls, a famous waterfall near Ocho Rios that empties directly into the Caribbean Sea

Small lagoons are interspersed between the vertical sections of the falls, and climbing up to them is a popular tourist activity. The falls can be walked up with relative ease, often a human chain is used snaking up the falls behind the tour guide.

University of the West Indies (UWI) Chess Society

The University of the West Indies Mona is one of three campuses of the University located in the Caribbean. The Mona campus, located in Northern Kingston, encompasses 653 acres of land formerly part of two large sugar estates, Papine and Mona. Scattered throughout the campus are the famous historic ruins of a Roman-style aqueduct, water wheel, and other remnants of the sugar works which once stood on the site. The campus is nestled in a lush valley embraced by Long Mountain to the south and the southernmost peaks of the famous Blue Mountain Range to the North. Mona is perhaps one of the most scenic areas in Greater Kingston, with the surrounding mountains providing a verdant backdrop which enhances the serene atmosphere of the campus. [Source: The University of the West Indies]


The campus of the University of the West Indies Mona

The UWI Chess Society seeks to incorporate chess into the culture of the University, improving the intellectual drive and capacity of its students. We strive to challenge a new generation of Caribbean chess players by teaching and improving the quality of chess played throughout our islands.

Magnificent Chess Foundation

Magnificent Chess Limited (MCL) is a new and innovative Jamaican company that has embarked on a mission to challenge and revolutionize the mindset of Jamaican people in particular, and our Caribbean neighbours in general, through the democratization of the art of learning, teaching and playing chess. In this respect, we will be concentrating on implementing a programme involving the teaching of chess in schools at all levels in Jamaica and elsewhere in the Caribbean . We will be lobbying for the teaching of chess to be a core subject in schools and will pursue the introduction of the game to children beginning at the primary through to the secondary and tertiary levels. In this respect, we will be utilizing the following vehicles to achieve our goal:

  • Our islandwide (eventually Caribbeanwide) Chess-in-Schools (CIS) initiative
  • Chess events production and promotion
  • Publishing Chess related material and
  • Selling Chess equipment and paraphernalia.


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