FM Joshua Johnson, representing T&T, excelled at the Continental Chess Championships held in the Dominican Republic from May 14-23.
Johnson, who had an initial ranking of 52 out of 158 players, coming into the tournament which boasted 23 Grand Masters and 29 International Masters (IM) with participation from 24 countries, ended the tournament ranked at 31, up 21 places.
Johnson earned 6.5 points out of 11 and had the best performance ever by a T&T player at these Continental Championships. In the process, Johnson earned another International Master Norm and an increase of rating by 59 rating points, which will take his rating to 2304 and to the position of the second highest FIDE rated player in the English-speaking Caribbean behind IM Alan-Safar Ramoutar, who is also from T&T. Attaining a rating of 2400 will make Johnson eligible for the International Master title as he has the requisite 3 norms to meet the title requirements.
Johnson’s rating at the beginning of the tournament was 2249 while his opponents had an average rating of 2452 (more than 200 points higher). Johnson’s journey to his outstanding performance comprised 2 wins and 5 draws against Grandmasters which was unprecedented at this championship.
Johnson, though exhausted, was very happy at the end of his event as he remarked, “I was very happy with my overall standard of play. After my 2nd round win against GM from Cuba I felt energised and up to the task to give it my all. I also felt very motivated seeing that I only had 2 losses for the entire tournament, one in the final round against a GM and another in round seven against an IM.
"Also, the support that I received from players across the region really heartened me while also encouraging me to continue pushing. This is also the first time I have participated in back-to-back high level events, as I played in the historic Capablanca Open in Cuba a few days before. I believe this exposure, together with my training over the past few months, played a major role in my performance.”
T&T Chess Association (TTCA) president, Sonja Johnson, was also thrilled, saying: “Joshua’s performance really was outstanding. Up to the 6th round, Joshua had no losses after already playing 5 Grand Masters. He has really flown the flag high for Trinidad and Tobago and we look forward to more inspired performances from him.”