FIDE Master Frank Yee and Woman National Master Aditi Soondarsingh were the top male and female chess players for the year after capturing the national championship titles in November.
Yee, who has been knocking on the door for over a decade, finally landed Trinidad and Tobago's most prestigious title, upsetting two former national chess champions to seal a tight victory at the 11-round, round-robin National Championship finals at St George's College in Barataria.
Dev Soondarsingh upset of defending champion Ryan Harper in the tenth round swung things in Yee's favour. Second was Marcus Joseph, with Harper finishing in third spot. Harper, who defeated grandmaster Oscar de la Riva Aguado of Andorra at the World Chess Olympiad in Turkey in August, was the leading player until his loss to Dev Soondarsingh.
Aditi, an engineering student at UTT (University of T&T), was the most outstanding local female player at the World Chess Olympiad, where she played on boards one and two, scoring four wins. It was on the top board that she scored one of the biggest wins of her career, defeating Woman International Master (WIM) Iman Al-Rufaye of Iraq.
In the process, Soondarsingh (A) became the first T&T female to beat a WIM. She followed this up with a successful defence of her national women's title, playing unbeaten among the ten finalists for her eighth lien on the national crown. Javanna Smith placed second with Jane Kennedy third.
Among the juniors, Joshua Johnson was easily the most outstanding male. He had little difficulty winning the National Under-14 title, and sprang a surprise to win the National Junior/Under-20 title from favourite Vishnu Singh, who placed second, and Jayson Paul, who finished third.
Johnson then qualified for the national finals, where he again surprised many to place fourth among the seniors. Johnson won the Under-16 category in the inaugural CARIFTA tournament over the Easter weekend, and claimed a silver medal at the December 13-16 Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Junior Chess Championships in Puerto Rico.
Among the girls, National Under-10 Girls champion Shemilah James snatched the number one spot at the last minute by grabbing gold for T&T at the CAC Championships. James, who was accompanied by her coach Bhisham Soondarsingh, won the Under-10 Girls category. She finished on 4.5 points, with a notable draw against Candidate Master (CM) Christopher Vazquez of Puerto Rico among her results.