Candidate Master Adrian Winter Atwell has confirmed his emergence as one of the country's top chess players by his confident victory in the FW DeVerteuil Memorial tournament, topping a field of 48 players, a full point ahead of second-placed CM Ravishen Singh and FM Mario Merritt.
Winter Atwell's unbeaten performance on six and a half points is his first victory in a major T&T event, one that traditionally attracts the cream of the nation's chess players.
After learning the game from his father, Winter Atwell began his tournament career in 2005 at the age of 18, winning the Under-20 title in the same year. He contested the national open finals several times, placing third in 2011. He also represented T&T this year at the Olympiad in Tromso, Denmark.
The DeVerteuil Memorial was launched 22 years ago by Knights Chess Club in tribute to the contribution made by veteran F.W DeVerteuil to the sport, particularly the encouragement and assistance he willingly gave to young aspiring players.
Over the years, the tournament has acquired the same popular status as the Knights Open, offering considerable cash prizes plus the opportunity for players to improve their FIDE rating. In winning this tournament, Winter Atwell now joins a long list of T&T's most outstanding players.
Also, the contribution made by RHAND Credit Union to the popularity of these two contests is considerable, providing a free and convenient playing venue in the capital city for both events.
In addition, over the last few years, a unique and very constructive feature has been introduced by David Maynard, RHAND's General Manager, on his return to competitive play after a considerable absence. Up-to-date chessbooks, produced by the world's leading players and trainers, are presented to winners and promising young participants as part of the prize-giving function.
DR can only hope the recipients would studiously use these informative books to improve their chess skills. While the annual tournament saw an inexplicable reduction in the number of female players, it was graced by a charming young participant from Guyana who took the prize for the best female. Yolander Persaud, 24, learned the game from her geologist father and subsequently became the junior champion of Queen's College and the most outstanding junior in Guyana.
After seven years of legal study, partly done in Trinidad, she returned to the game and accompanied the Guyanese team to the Olympiad at Tromso where she qualified as a developmental instructor and FIDE arbiter. Yolander's love for the popular mind game is obvious and, with her qualifications, she seems sure to be an asset to the sport in the country she now calls home.
Veteran Carlyle Singh who presided at the prize-giving function pointed out that the club's president Louis Wiltshire was able to take part in the tournament inspite of his illness. Singh expressed the club's gratitude to the players, to David Maynard, RHAND's GM and parents of participating youngsters.
Russel Smith, general secretary of the Confederation of Chess for the Americas, briefly outlined the problems of development in the region including the fact that the Caribbean region was not ready for the staging of grandmaster chess events, needing the establishment of more federations. This question is under discussion at the CCA, he added.
Trevor Flower, T&TCA first vice president, announced the participation of Vishnu Singh and Javanna Smith, Under-20 champions, in the current CAC Under-20 championships in Costa Rica.
The blitz tournament which concluded the event was won by FM Harper on five with Kevin Cupid, Winter Atwell, Joshua Johnson, Cesar Ramos and Andrew Bowles tied for second place on four.
Following are the Memorial prizewinners: First: CM Winter Atwell, 6.5, $1,500; Second: FM Mario Merritt and Ravishen Singh, 5.5, $1,700; Third: FM Ryan Harper, CM Cecil Lee, CM Frank Sears, Leonard Duncan, Mikel Martin, 5, $1,200. Best Junior (Under-20): Gerard Sealy, Matthew Inkim, Kyron Agostini, Zachary Allum 3, $400; Best Female: Yolander Persaud 3, $200; Best ELO (Under 1700): Carl Archer, Carlyle Singh, Louis Wiltshire 4, $300; Best Unrated: David Maynard, Rickson Thomas, 4, $200; Veteran's Prize: CM Cesar Ramos-Caldera, Andrew Bowles, 4.5, $200; Special Prize: Rayden Rampersad, 2, $100.