National Chess Championship Qualifiers: Khan completes unbeaten campaign in tournament
Candidate Master Taffin Khan remained undefeated in the Ram and McRae-sponsored National Open Chess Championship Qualifying Tournament, an eight-round Swiss System tournament played over four days on November 11-19, 2023 at the Guyana National Stadium.
Khan defeated Keron Sandiford in round seven and Loris Nathoo in a four-hour battle in round eight. Khan and Nathoo both played a balanced opening and an incredible middle game. Khan finally outshone Nathoo in the end game, with accurate and decisive moves. Khan also claimed points from Isa Bremner, Errol Tiwari, Ethan Lee, Justino DaSilva, Roberto Neto, and Sachin Pitamber.
Second place went to 20-year-old Ethan Lee, who finished with seven points. Lee’s final game ended in a victory against young Sachin Pitamber in the eighth round. Current National Junior Champion Sandiford placed third in the tournament with 5.5 points. He lost to Khan in Round 7, but defeated 15-year-old newcomer Alex Benjamin.
In fourth position, Gilbert Williams also scored 5.5 points. His wins came against Tremusa Marshall, Shivanand Nandalall, Asif Rahaman, Nicholas Sakoor, and Rolex Alexander.
In fifth position, 13-year-old Pitamber demonstrated his ability to compete with the senior players by earning 5 points. He won a point by default in the first round, and drew with Sandiford in the second. He went on to win against fellow teen Najeeb Mohamed and then against seasoned players Saeed Ali and DaSilva. Pitamber drew with Williams in round seven, but lost to Lee in the last round.
Rounding out the top 10, Dasilva, Neto, Nathoo, Alexander and Jaden Taylor occupy sixth to tenth places, respectively.
These top 10 players will advance to the National Open Chess Championship to compete for the title for 2023.
The Chief Arbiter for the tournament was FIDE Arbiter John Lee, assisted by FIDE Arbiter Anand Raghunauth. The top twelve boards were live-streamed throughout the tournament thanks to the expertise of John Lee, who made sure that fans viewed the games in real time.
The 41 players who participated in the tournament included 29 juniors of which nine were female. Seasoned players, including Tiwari, Nandalall and Nathoo also participated in this prestigious tournament. Special mention must be made of the Region Three players from Qayyim Academy and lone Berbician School Teacher Julian Dey of Fyrish, Corentyne, who also entered the competition.
Vice President of the Guyana Chess Federation (GCF), Irshad Mohamad presented medals to the winners. He noted that the tournament was the largest-ever National Open Qualifiers he had seen and attributed the growth to the number of junior chess players who participated. Mohamad expressed gratitude to the sponsors of the tournament Ram and McRae on behalf of the GCF and to the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport for the use of the Guyana National Stadium, Providence, East Bank Demerara.
The National Championships will conclude in the next few weeks giving rise to the 2023 champion. The Grand Prix and National tournaments will start early next year to pave the way for selection for the Olympiad team in September 2024 in Hungary. Chess players are asked to check the website guyanachess.gy for guidelines on how to qualify for the Olympiad team.