Trinidad – land of sun, music, beaches and chess!

8/26/2010 – This year’s "Caribbean Chess Carnival" attracted 147 players from ten countries, including one GM, Gennadi Sagalchik of the USA, who duly won the event. The sensation, however, was 11-year-old Josh Colas, the scholastic All American player from White Plains, New York, whose fine performance culminated in a win over a four-times Trinidadian champion. Daaim Shabazz reports.

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Trinidad – the land of sun, music, beaches and chess!

By Dr. Daaim Shabazz

Trinidad is a land of natural beauty. A land of pride touting the infectious rhythm of Soca, the soothing beats of steel pan music and of the cricket legend Brian Lara. Its famous Maracas Beach is an attractive site for millions of tourists and the Carnival is reputed to be among the world’s best. Thus, it is fitting that the 2010 Caribbean Chess Carnival would find a home in such a hospitable climate. Fortunately, I arrived to experience the August 1st “Emancipation Day” parade.

It was a beautiful display of pageantry with all participants wearing beautiful African garments celebrating emancipation from slavery.

Edison Raphael, President of the Trinidad and Tobago Chess Foundation had an idea three years ago to have an Open section in what had been the “Caribbean Junior Chess Championship” since 2002.


Queen's Royal College, the oldest secondary school in Trinidad and Tobago

"The College" is noted for its famous German Renaissance architecture and tradition of multi-faceted education which continues to produce some of Trinidad and Tobago's leading thinkers, athletes, artists and politicians. Acknowledging the request of coaches who also wanted to play chess during the tournament, Raphael arranged to have the senior players compete and dubbed it the “Caribbean Chess Carnival.” The venue would be the famous Queen’s Park Cricket Club.


Trinidad Staff: Edison Raphael, Christopher Raphael, Harry Amow

This year’s event attracted 147 players from ten countries including GM Gennadi Sagalchik of the USA and seven International Masters. There were four sections: Open (38 players), under-20 (25 players), under-14 (28 players) and under-10 (35 players). There were also a junior and an adult novice tournament. The Open section was hotly contested, with the Venezuela contingent of IM Rafael Prasca Sosa and IM Julio Ostos vying for top spot. IM Humberto Pecorelli of Cuba had won for three consecutive years, but was unable to travel to defend the crown.


GM Gennadi Sagalchik of New York hoists 1st place trophy at the closing ceremony

Nigerian IM Oladapo Adu was leading the tournament after Sagalchik had accepted a couple of quick draws. The pivotal match between Sagalchik and Adu ended when the Nigerian disastrously lost a piece and didn’t have enough counterplay for compensation. Sagalchik added another win before coasting to two draws and a 7/9 score. Prasca and Ostos ended on 6.5/9 while 4th-7th was shared by IM Kevin Denny (Barbados), IM Terry Farley (Barbados), IM Nestor Velez Betancourt (Cuba) and German Herrera (Venezuela).

Top final standings

Pl.
Player Nation
1
GM Gennadi Sagalchik USA
2
IM Rafael Prasca Sosa Venezuela
3
IM Julio Ostos Venezuela
4
IM Kevin Denny Barbados
5
IM Terry Farley Barbados
6
IM Nestor Velez Betancourt Cuba
7
Germán Herrera Venzuela
8
IM Oladapo Adu Nigeria
9
Ariel Marichal Cuba
10
Martyn Del Castilho Barbados

Perhaps one footnote was the performance of 11-year-old Josh Colas, the scholastic All-American player from White Plains, New York. He entered the Open section with fanfare and did not disappoint. Colas played enterprising chess culminating with a win over four-time Trinidadian champion FM Ryan Harper. In the interview, he stated that he wanted to avoid Harper’s preparation in the mainline Sicilian Dragon.


Joshua Colas battling FM Ryan Harper in round seven of the Caribbean Chess Carnival.
Harper trots out his pet Dragon, but Colas eschews the main lines (which Harper knows well)

Josh Colas (USA) - FM Ryan Harper (TRI) (2262)
Caribbean Chess Carnival Port of Spain, TRI (7), 07.08.2010
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.h3 Bg7 7.Be3 0–0 8.Bd3 Nc6 9.0–0 e5 10.Nb3 d5 11.exd5 Nxd5 12.Nxd5 Qxd5 13.Qe2 Qd8 14.Rad1 Qh4 15.Bc5 Re8 16.Qe4 Qf6 17.f3 Be6 18.Bf2 Qg5 19.h4 Qe7 20.Nc5 Bf5 21.Qe2 Bxd3 22.Rxd3 b6 23.Rd7 Qf6 24.Ne4 Qf5 25.Rc7 Nd4 26.Qd2 Rad8 27.Bxd4 Rxd4 28.Qg5 Qe6 29.c3 Ra4 30.Rd1 h6 31.Qe3 Rxa2 32.Rdd7 Rf8 33.Nd6 Ra1+ 34.Kf2 Rd1 35.Rxf7 Rxf7 36.Nxf7 Qf6 37.Nxh6+ Kh7 38.Qg5 Qf4 39.Qxf4 exf4 40.Ng4 Rd2+ 41.Kg1 Rxb2 42.Rxa7 Rc2 43.Rb7 Rxc3 44.Nf6+ Kh6 45.Rxb6 Bxf6 46.Rxf6 Rc4 47.Kh2 Kg7 48.Ra6 [48.Re6] 48...Rc5 49.Kh3 Kh6 50.Ra4 g5 51.Kg4 gxh4 52.Ra6+ Kg7 53.Kxh4 Rc2 54.Kh3 Rc4 55.Ra2 Kg6 56.Kg4 Kf6 57.Ra6+ Kf7 58.Ra5

58...Kf6?? 58...Rc2! 59.Kf5 Rxg2 60.Ra7+ Ke8 61.Kxf4 is a book draw. 59.Rf5+ Kg6 60.Rxf4 Rc2 61.g3 Rc6 62.Rb4 Ra6 63.f4 Kf6 64.Rb5 Rc6 65.Rh5 Kg6 66.f5+ Kg7 67.Kg5 Rc5 68.g4 Ra5 69.Rh2 Rb5 70.Rc2 Rb7 71.Rc5 Ra7 72.f6+ Kf7 73.Kf5 Ra8 74.Rc7+ Kg8 75.Kg6 Rb8 76.Rg7+ Kh8. 76...Kf8 77.Rh7 Ke8 (77...Kg8 78.f7+ Kf8 79.Rh8++-) 78.Rh8++–. 77.Rh7+ 1-0.

In the under-20 section, two FIDE Masters dominated the event clearing the field by 1.5 points. FM David Finol Berrueta of Venezuela won on tiebreaks over hometown favorite FM Keron Cabralis due  his win in their head-to-head encounter. He suffered one loss against 3rd place winner Vishnu Singh of Trinidad.

The under-14 section saw Trinidad’s Joshua Johnson dominate the section with a blistering 8.5/9. He surrendered only one draw to fourth place Pierre Chang of the Netherlands and beat secondnd place winner Christian Ammon and third place Jarryon Paul, both of Trinidad.


Wasudha Malgie analyzing with IM Nestor Velez, the Suriname coach

Suriname made a strong showing in the tournament entering their top juniors in each section. Led by Wasudha Malgie, President of the Combinatie Sport Vereniging (CSV) Chess Club, they belong to a club of about 80 members. Malgie was a member of Suriname’s women’s Olympiad team in Turin, Italy in 2006. One of her students won third place in the under-10.

Ashwari Akloe (above) of Suriname started with five straight wins and led the section until she suffered successive losses to Jamaican Lawrence Foreman and Trinidadian Justin Labastide in rounds six and seven. Labastide sprinted past both of these players with seven straight wins to take first with 8/9. Foreman ended on 7/9 and Akloe took third with 6.5/9.


Prakash Ramadhar, Minister of Legal Affairs (right) joined Grandmaster Gennadi
Sagalchik and Edison Raphael at the beginning of the last round

Before the last round Prakash Ramadhar, Minister of Legal Affairs, gave congratulatory remarks to the Foundation and discussed the importance of chess in helping shape the minds of the future. The youngsters, in particular, were eager to have their photographs taken with the minister. After the last round, there was the awards ceremony for the various categories. Marcia La Borde, Executive Director of T&T Chess Foundation performed the honors. The top ten in each category were given trophies and the top five gained additional cash prizes.  The event was a rousing success and many made pledges to return.

The tournament participants and guests were then treated to steel drum and calypso performances. Luke Walker in the under-10 section played the Trinidad and Tobago national anthem and “waka waka,” a famous ode to Africa that star Shakira performed at the 2010 World Cup. Calypso Queen Denyse Plummer excited the crowd with her energetic performance ending a festive week of chess activities.  The dates for next year’s event will be August 2nd-7th, 2011 in Port of Spain, Trinidad.

If you plan to come next year, make sure to come a couple of days early so you can experience eating of “doubles” along side the road, coconut water from a vendor or the “bake and shark” delicacy. You may even find time to climb the peak along Lady Chancellor’s road or ferry over to the beautiful island of Tobago and take in the sites in its resplendid beauty. The hosts of the Caribbean Chess Carnival seem to ensure that the attendees have a good time and the island of full of life and spirit. While you will need to come in February to experience the real Carnival, as a chess experience, it is great experience!


“Emancipation Day Parade” in Trinidad


A local dance group, in special outfits designed for the parade


Muslim ladies looking beautiful in their colorful garments

About the author: Dr. Daaim Shabazz is the creator and webmaster of The Chess Drum. He serves as a tenured faculty member at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, USA, where he teaches international business. He has served the journalist community for 20 years (including a short stint with Sports Illustrated in New York) and is a member of Chess Journalists of America.


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