Ali’s experience trumps field

Sasha Cells National Junior Chess Championship 2016…

At the end of the third round in the Sasha Cells National Junior Chess Championship 2016, seasoned campaigner junior Saeed Ali is enjoying a 0.5 point lead. This is his first chess competition after taking a break from his studies.

Tournament leader Saeed Ali
Tournament leader Saeed Ali

In round 2, Ali played with the Black pieces in a highly anticipated showdown against Roberto Neto, both of whom had taken round one spoils. Neto once more turned to his Queens Gambit as Ali chose the Semi Slav variation as defense. Neto was the first to blunder, pushing for space advantage with c5 only to lose a pawn at the end of the variation, earning a draw.
WCM Sheriffa Ali faced former Queen’s College student Aravinda Singh with the Black pieces. This was the game of round 2, and the Sheriffa was determined not to lose. In a Two Knight Defense Game, Singh weakened his Kingside with h3 & g4 to evade the Bg4-Nc3-Qd1 pin. WCM Ali bravely kept her King in the center and launched an early counter attack on the Kingside. The kingside and center was the battlefield and both players were playing actively. Sheriffa managed to settle for a draw after some accurate play by Singh.
In round 3, Ali show cased his experience and knowledge playing the Queens Gambit, this time with the white pieces against Nellisha Johnson, who lost to Neto in round one. Johnson chose the tactical Chigorin Defense but received some tactical blows as Ali outplayed her.
Neto in second place so far, got away with a draw against Ali’s sister, WCM Sheriffa, in round 3. Neto opted for his weapon, Caro Kann Defense and Sheriffa used the Breyer Variation (1.e4 c6 2. d3. d5).
Unfortunately, Sheriffa lost a piece quickly after misplaying the opening, then pressed with some active plays and open lines. It was then under pressure that Neto failed to see a “basic fork” of his knights and had to return the piece. By endgame, both players played safely and secure half point each.

Final Standings after round three:
1- Saeed Ali 2.5
2 – Roberto Neto 2.0
3 – Sheriffa Ali 2.0
4 – Joshua Gopaul 1.5
5 – Aravinda Singh 1
6 -Ghansham Alijohn 1
7 – Jaden Taylor 1
8 – Nellisha Johnson 1

Rounds four and five kick off Saturday October 29 at Ocean Spray Hotel from 10:00h.