A new National Men's chess champion was crowned last Saturday at St George's College, Barataria. FIDE Master Frank Yee turned back 10 other finalists, scoring 8.5 points from a possible 11, to finish ahead of Marcus Joseph and Ryan Harper, both tied on eight points.
Yee received the PKF Challenge Trophy and $3,500 while Joseph and Harper got $2,000 each. The latter two were separated by the head to head tiebreaker, which Joseph won.
An excited champion, Yee exclaimed: "Finally! I am elated at finally winning this championship. I always knew I had the potential but I was never able to put together a set of consistent wins in previous years. This year I made a concerted effort to not settle for draws unless necessary and to press for the win."
Yee felt he was on the home stretch when he took the lead in round seven. But when he lost to Harper in round nine, it looked like the title was slipping away.
"The last round was tough as I only needed a draw against Joseph and this was the final hurdle, I think I surprised him by opening with d4. He pressed too much for the win until he had to retract, and I was then able to capture his queen for some minor pieces, Fortunately for me, Harper lost in Round 10, and I regained the outright lead," Yee said.
Yee is a computer network administrator at Campus IT Services, UWI St Augustine.
The new champion had previously won the Knight's Open and DeVerteuil Opens in 2009 and 2010 but his best previous performance in the National finals was third.
He represented T&T at Olympiads in 1998, 2000, 2004 and 2010, as well as Subzonals in Venezuela (1998, 1999, 2001) and Ecuador (2004). He achieved the FIDE Master (FM) title in Ecuador (2004).
Young Joshua Johnson put up a sterling performance to finish fifth in the finals, faring better than some of his more seasoned opponents. Johnson had six wins, two draws and three losses. Southern star Frank Sears faded in the last few rounds, accepting too many draws and finishing eighth.
The Ladies Championship was again won by Aditi Soondarsingh, who finished with nine points, ahead of Javanna Smith (eight points) and Jane Kennedy on 6.5.
Before the prizegiving ceremony, the National Blitz tourney was played, attracting some 39 players. Anderson Gordon, a former national champion showed his skills at rapid chess play, by shutting out Ryan Harper in the final.
TTCA president Russell Smith thanked the tournament sponsors PKF Limited for supporting the National finals for yet another year, and praised the players for the discipline and fairplay shown during the long competitions. He singled out young Johnson, who continues to show consistent improvement even at his tender age.