The top performers on the chess board were honoured on Sunday as the Trinidad and Tobago Chess Association (TTCA) hosted its prize-giving ceremony at Rhand Credit Union in Portof- Spain. The event recognised the winners of the 2016 National Youth, National Junior and National Swiss Chess Championships 2016 with Minister of Sport Darryl Smith present to assist in the presentation of awards.

The National Youth Chess Championships took place over the period January 9-17 at Presentation College San Fernando and San Fernando Girls’ Anglican.

This was followed by the National Junior Championships (Under 20) held from January 23-31 at the Rhand Credit Union. The National Swiss, which resumed after a hiatus of three years, was also hosted over the same period and at the same venue.

Fide Master (FM) Joshua Johnson became the new National Junior Champion after he defeated Under-16 champ Isaiah McIntosh, with whom he had tied on points during the competition, via a playoff.

Third place went to Candidate Master (CM) Sean Yearwood, the 2016 Under 14 Champion.

Woman Fide Master (WFM) Javanna Smith was able to retain her title as Under 20 Female Champion and in second place was WCM Gabriella Johnson (Under 16 Female Champion) from St Joseph’s Convent, PoS, who was closely followed by Shemilah James (Under 14 Female Champion), of St Francois Girls’ College. The National Swiss Championships 2016 attracted many of the top chess players in the country but in the end, the current National Chess Champion, CM Kevin Cupid played unbeaten, earning 6.5 out of 7 points, to come away with the top prize. In second was CM Esan Wiltshire, followed by CM Cesar Ramos in third position.

FM Ryan Harper, Thomas Rickson and FM Mario Merritt, tied for 4th on points and were 4th, 5th and 6th respectively, after the tiebreak.

Minister of Sport Smith was on hand to address the audience and opened his contribution with a prayer for Della-Marie Walcott, requesting strength for her family and her full recovery so that she can continue to represent Trinidad and Tobago.

Smith added: “I am very impressed with the level of professionalism and commitment by the Executive Committee of the Trinidad and Tobago Chess Association.

After meeting with them we shall be collaborating to bring chess to all schools throughout Trinidad and Tobago. We are also looking at the possibility of a chess league.” The TTCA was also please by the presence of Brian Lewis, president of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee, who stated, “I congratulate the Chess Association, parents, coaches and players.

Your commitment to making a positive difference to the betterment of Trinidad and Tobago through the sport of chess is an admirable endeavour.” Sonja Johnson, 1st vice president of the TTCA asked the audience to keep Della-Marie and her family in their prayers and is looking forward to seeing her in the next prize-giving. Johnson said she was very happy with the progress of chess, remarking that 2015 was a very good year with the hosting of the CAC Youth Chess Festival for the first time in the English-Speaking Caribbean. She also was impressed by the high standard of competition at several levels of the Youth Chess Championship, as it augurs well for chess.

She was thankful for the support from the parents and players and stated: “Given the challenging economic environment, we must continue to work together as a community to ensure that the Chess Association achieves its mandate.” Johnson also expressed heartfelt gratitude for the sponsors, with specific mention to the long-standing relationship with Rhand Credit Union, whose staff always go beyond the call in assisting the TTCA.

The 2016 National Youth Chess Champions are: Under 8 Absolute - Aedan Muralie (Montrose Vedic Primary School) Under 10 Absolute - CM Rayden Rampersad (San Fernando TML Primary School) Under 10 Female - Anahita Ramoutar (San Fernando TML Primary School) Under 12 Absolute - Zidane Boodoo (Curepe Presbyterian School) Under 12 Female - Marliyah Phillips (St Theresa Girls’ RC School) Under 14 Absolute - CM Sean Yearwood (St Mary’s College) Under 14 Female - Shemilah James (St Francois Girls’ College) Under 16 Absolute - Isaiah Mc Intosh (Presentation College, San Fernando) Under 16 Female - WCM Gabriella Johnson (St Joseph’s Convent, Port-of-Spain) Under 18 Absolute - FM Joshua Johnson (Fatima College) Under 18 Female - WFM Sadiqah Razark (Couva East Secondary School)