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The XIV CAC Youth Chess Festival ended today with the conclusion of the final round in the morning of August 26 and the subsequent closing ceremonies in the evening. This final event marked the culmination of a challenging and exhilarating journey spanning 9 rounds of chess. The festival, which commenced on August 21st, brought together 231 young players aged 6 to 18 from a diverse range of countries, including the Bahamas, Barbados, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Panama, Saint Lucia, Suriname, and the host nation, the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
The standout player for Guyana, was the youngest team member, 10-year-old Kataleya Sam. She impressively maintained her third-place standing in the Under 10 Female category, securing a conditional Women’s Candidate Master title. This remarkable achievement awaits official confirmation when she achieves an international rating of 1800 or higher.
In a captivating display of strategic finesse and tactical acumen, Kyle Couchman emerged victorious against the ultimate Under 14 Open Champion, Kael Samuel Bisnauth, in an intense match for the final game of the tournament. As the game progressed, Couchman capitalised on Bisnath’s weaknesses and consolidated his advantage. With precise moves and astute piece coordination, Couchman deftly navigated the complexities of the position. His mastery of the endgame phase proved decisive, ultimately leading to a well-earned victory.
The final position witnessed a resilient effort from both players, but Couchman’s adept handling of the strategic nuances secured him a well-deserved victory.
Alexander Zhang showcased his prowess, securing 4.5 points in the Under 16 Open. He notably outplayed his Round 7 opponent, Luke Balliram from Trinidad and Tobago, boasting an international rating of 1280. Zhang’s strategic finesse was particularly evident in his adept handling of the French defence, culminating in an advantageous endgame.
Italy Ton-Chung playing in the Under 16 Female category, demonstrated her resolve, concluding with 4 points. Notable victories against rated player Kavita Singh and a draw against Adelia Duffrin, both from Trinidad, showcased Ton-Chung’s competitive spirit.
12-year-old Nicholas Zhang played well in the Under 12 Category, accumulating 5 points and secured a noteworthy draw against Aaron Jaikaran (1268) from Barbados.
Dominic Sam’s participation in the U14 Open Category yielded 3 points, including an impressive draw against Trinidad’s Kyle Maharaj (1169). Ciel Clement scored 4 points in the Under 14 Female competition with one win against Haiti, 2 against Trinidad and a bye. Newcomer Kaija Clement also in the Under 14 Female tournament benefited from a bye in round 3 and a round 4 win against Trinidadian Angela Honore.
Aniyah Couchman, playing in the Under 18 Female tournament, struggled against 3 Woman Candidate Masters and a Woman FIDE Master, but still was able to score by defeating Kinberlie Dunat of Haiti (1357) with a beautiful Ruy Lopez opening and a winning end game.
Ronan Lee and Matthew Singh ended the tournament on 3.5 points each in the Under 18 category. Lee clinched victories against Trinidadian Keagan Ragoobar (1495) and drew with Saqiv Williams (1334). Singh’s game with Ragoobar ended in a draw, but he was able to score against Kaiel Scoon (1071) in round 3, also from Trinidad.
The tournament was expertly organized by the TTCA and CCA, held at the Cascadia Hotel in Port-of-Spain, and received significant support from the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago through the Ministry of Sport and Community Development. Chief Arbiter Ishmael Soto Gonsalves (IA) from Puerto Rico oversaw the games, assisted by Deputy Chief Arbiters Roderick Noel (FA) and Sadiqah Razark.
The GCF is proud to have fielded the team for participation in the CAC Youth Chess Festival. The GCF recognizes the need for international competition as it allows players to earn international ratings and win titles. President of the Federation, Anand Raghunauth emphasized the profound value of the experience garnered from this event, and they can only grow as chess players from these events. He extended thanks to Mrs. Marcia Lee, who headed the delegation and Roberto Neto whose coaching and unwavering support proved instrumental throughout the tournament. Special commendation is reserved for FM Anthony Drayton, whose contributions to the players’ training, both in the lead-up and during the event, have been paramount to their preparation and performance.
The Guyana Chess Federation and the Guyana Team express their gratitude to the Trinidad and Tobago Chess Association (TTCA) and the Chess Confederation of the Americas (CCA) for their exceptional execution of the tournament. The team was enriched by the camaraderie and warm hospitality of the Trinidadian hosts, and eagerly anticipates future events of this calibre.