Barbados’ top rated chess player Orlando Husbands achieved a hat-trick of national tiles in grand style by completing a clean sweep of the boards in the 2020 National Championship.
The 23-year-old International Master claimed his fourth national Open title by winning a top-of-the-table clash against Nitin Mahtani to romp to a ninth successive victory when the Championship climaxed on Tuesday night at the Chess Centre on Exmouth Gap, Brandons, St. Michael.
There was an air of anticipation ahead of the final round as Mahtani came into the contest one point behind Husbands with the knowledge that an upset win against the top seed would have forced a play-off to decide the title.
Husbands, however, ensured that there was no drama and duly won to become the fifth player to secure a hat-trick of national Open titles in the past 45 years. The others were Philip Corbin (1975-1977), Ron Buckmire (1983-1986), Kevin Denny (1991-1996) and Martyn Del Castilho (2009-2012).
“Winning nationals was super important to me for a number of reasons. I wanted to add by name to the list of persons who had won a hat-trick of national titles. The most important reason is I really value consistency. It is very important for me to prove to myself year after year that I can do this again and again and again at will,” Husbands said while revealing his ultimate aim is to match Kevin Denny’s record 14 national titles.
“The last game was always going to be the most critical game. The tournament standings was not a factor. In my mind, each game was a must win. The tensions were high. It was a very interesting game. This year’s nationals were challenging.”
With the triumph, which followed previous titles in 2013, 2018 and 2019, Husbands earned $1 000 and a trophy.
Husbands’ winning streak also included victories over Emar Edwards and Kyle Sandiford in the sixth and seventh rounds respectively last Saturday and over no. 2 seed Akeem Cox in the penultimate round the following day.
With some of the island’s top players opting out of the Championship, the youthful pair of Mahtani and Sandiford took the opportunity to further show their mettle and both outplayed more seasoned opponents to finish on seven points.
Mahtani, 20, Barbados’ captain at the 2018 and 2019 CARIFTA Championships and a Barbados Exhibition winner last year, took second place on the tie-break ahead of the 18-year-old Sandiford, the Under-16 Open silver medallist at the 2018 CARIFTA Championships.
The top half of the ten-player field was completed by Edwards, who finished fourth with five and a half points with Cox fifth on five points.
The Barbados Chess Federation’s calendar will continue this weekend with the start of the Ladies National Championship and the VEXX Tournament - the latter is restricted to players who did not qualify for the National Championship. Both events start on Saturday at the Chess Centre and will be played over seven rounds. (BCF)
Champion Orlando Husbands (right) defeated second-placed Nitin Mahtani in the last round complete clean sweep of the boards. (BCF Pictures)
Orlando Husbands completed a hat-trick of national Open titles.
Third-placed Kyle Sandiford (left) won against Mark Lowe in the last round.