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As the selection stage of the 2020 FIDE Online World Cadets and Youth Rapid Championships near a close, team Jamaica will go into the final two rounds with high optimism to finish in the top 3 spots of each category of the online chess tournament.

Following five rounds of play, National Champions Woman Candidate Master (WCM) Adani Clarke, WCM Raehanna Brown and Darren McKennis remain in sight of the finish line as they remain on the top five boards of the Under 18 Girls, Under 16 Girls and Open Under 14 sections of the tournament.

WCM Brown suffered her first defeat in the fifth round against Peruvian Woman FIDE Master Heidy Nicole Garcia in a game where she was out prepared in a Sicilian opening and complex middlegame which saw her materially down an exchange. Despite this loss, WCM Brown is in fourth place on 3.5 points and will face off against Woman International Master (WIM) Evelyn Zhu from the USA in the sixth round. WCM Clarke remains tied in sixth place on three points after losing her fourth-round game after apparently running out of time against Canadian WIM Svitlana Demchenko whom she outplayed for most of the game. WCM Clarke contends with Guyana’s Raeesah Nayelli Rahim Angel in the sixth round as she closes in on the top.

Darren McKennis is currently tied in eighth place on 3 points after beating Barbadian Tarquin Clark in the fifth round with a checkmate resulting from a queen promotion. With a narrow band between the competitors in the Open Under 14 section, McKennis will have to maintain his accuracy as he faces Jason Wang from the USA in the sixth round.

Ronak Shegil, Khaleel Johnson-Bartlett, Victoria Powell, Kaia Gayle and Amy Stephenson won their fifth round games to climb to 2 points each except for Shergil who is on 3 points. Jaheim Smart, John Stephenson, Tajae Morgan and Victoria Salazar were unsuccessful in their fifth round bouts and remained on 2 points while Antonic Chung received a bye in the fifth round.

Team coach International Master Jomo Pitterson remains quite ecstatic and confident that the tournament will serve as great experience for the players and provide an opportunity for them to gain more international exposure. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic halting over the board play, Pitterson has seen significant improvements in the quality of play as players adapt more to the current online format of the game.

Due to the unique circumstances facing the world, the tournament has been split up into a selection and finals stage on Chess24. Currently, Jamaica is playing in the American Continental Selection stage which is a three-day swiss tournament featuring 27 countries and territories whereby the top 3 finalists from each category will move onto the final stage to be held in 2 weeks. This is one of the many global tournaments which have transitioned online as the sport rapidly gains momentum from more persons staying at home and Netlfix’s Queen’s Gambit.

By David Rose

Caption: Adani Clarke – Under 18 Girls National Champion Woman Candidate Master (WCM) Adani Clarke.

Raehanna Brown – Under 16 Girls National Champion WCM Raehanna Brown.

Darren McKennis – Absolute Under 14 National Champion Darren McKennis.



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