FIDE Masters Mario Merritt and Frank Yee will start as favourites when the 17th annual Lucozade Open Chess Championship plays off on Tuesday at Algico Plaza on St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain. Merritt, an attorney, is a part of T&T’s five-member national team to compete in the World Olympiad which will take place from August 27 in Istanbul, Turkey. Meanwhile Yee, a network administrator, has already qualified for the National finals scheduled for October. Young Allan Munro, winner of the 2011 edition, is abroad and hoping to be back in time to defend his title. Dev Soondarsingh and Esan Wiltshire are also young players capable of taking home the Lucozade challenge trophy. Both have booked their place among the 11 qualifiers for the National finals.
Among the juniors are 2011 second place finisher and Joint national Under-18 champion, Vishnu Singh of Presentation College, Chaguanas, and national Under-14 champion Joshua Johnson of Fatima College. Johnson has also made it to this year’s finals. Heading the list of women’s players is seven-time national champion, Aditi Soondarsingh, who will lead the national women’s team (five players) to the World Olympiad.
Other team members vying for the female prizes are Gabriella Johnson and Nekeilla Chuniesingh. National girls’ Under-10 champion Shemilah James, Najarah Rahaman, Tyler-Marie Mungal and Danielle Cadogan are promising players with the ability to create upsets.
The tournament will be played in a seven-round swiss format. Two matches will be played on each day starting on Tuesday with the third to seventh rounds continuing on consecutive Saturdays. The winner in the Open Section will receive the Lucozade Challenge Trophy and the top junior will get the Prakash Persad Trophy. They will also receive cash prizes. The Lucozade Open Chess tournament is organised by Paladins Chess Club. Interested players can contact Bhisham Soondarsingh (761-7091) or Andrew Bowles (741-3982).