The Guyana Chess Federation, recently announced plans to send a male and a female team to this year’s Chess Olympiad in Azerbaijan.
While in the past male teams have participated at previous Olympiads, this will be the first time that the GCF will be sending a female team although female players have participated previously.
“After much deliberation, the Guyana Chess Federation (GCF) is pleased to announce the selection of two teams which will represent Guyana at the 42nd Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan this September. In an unprecedented move, Guyana will participate in both the Absolute section and, for the first time in history the Female section.”
So stated the press release from the defunct GCF of its decision to send teams to this year’s Chess Olympiad.
The GCF, headed by Irshad Mohamad, had announced plans to stage the AGM last may but apparently the meeting did not come off. There has been no release from the GCF on this development.
Meanwhile, Mohamad and some members of the GCF executive met with the Director of Sports Christopher Jones to discuss preparations for the Olympiad.
According to the release, Jones was “ecstatic” about the teams’ and the potential to reinvigorate chess in Guyana.
Representing Guyana in the Absolute section at the Olympiad will be CM Anthony Drayton, CM Taffin Khan, CM Ronuel Greenidge, Haifeng Su and Roberto Neto.
The female team reads, CM Maria Varona Thomas (Rating: 1790), Jessica Clementson (1281), Yolander Persaud (1151), Julia Clementson and Sheriffa Ali.
Wendell Meusa, a FIDE accredited coach, who holds the National Instructor license, will accompany the teams.
The World Chess Olympiad is a prestigious tournament that has been held in various countries and is now held every two years.
The most significant thing about this year’s tournament is that Guyana, for the first time, will be sending a female team.
Following is a who’s who of the teams to the Chess Olympiad.
This ambitious player has a rating of 1947 and has represented Guyana in many international tournaments including the UMADA Cup Challenger. He has also made his mark in local tournaments like the recent Mike’s Pharmacy one-day rapid tournament where he played unbeaten ending with 6.5 points out of 7.
Khan, 23, is one of Guyana’s most decorated players with a rating of 1861. He started playing in 2007 and won the National Junior Championships one year later. He went on to win the National Senior Championships in 2010a title he held until 2012. He has represented Guyana at the Inter-Guiana Games and also participated in many local tournaments, winning most of them including the Trophy Stall Tournament this year where he placed first and the E.C.I Tournament where he tied for first place. This year he also won the title of Candidate Master (CM) as a result of his participation in the 2.3.5 Sub-Zonal Tournament in Barbados.
Su, 21, is a very competitive player with a FIDE rating of 1775. In 2010 he entered in his first tournament and placed second in the junior category. Later that year he placed third at the National Junior Championships and represented Guyana in the Inter-Guiana Games. In 2011, he placed first in the individual category in the Inter-School Championships and also won the National Junior Championships and participated in the 2011 UMADA Cup and the Suriname Open Championships.
He placed third in the Open category of the 2012 UMADA Cup and second at the National Junior Chess Championships.
He placed third at the Sagicor 2013 Championship and fourth at the Barbados National Junior Championship Qualifiers.
He also represented Guyana in the 41st Chess Olympiad held in Norway and competed in the UMADA Cup in 2014 where he tied for sixth place.
Greenidge, 33, is a skillful player who has garnered a FIDE rating of 1725 over the years. He has also represented Guyana internationally at the 41st Chess Olympiad, where he earned the title of Candidate Master. In 2007, he won four local tournaments and placed fourth at the National Senior Championships. The following year he won the Qualifiers for the Nationals and went on to place second in the Closed championships.
In 2009, he placed fifth in the Qualifiers and maintained his runner up position at the National Senior Championships.
In 2010, he placed third in the qualifying tournament for Guyana’s first FIDE rated tournament, where he placed sixth. He also placed third in the 2012 Red Cherry Ladder Tournament. After his participation in the Olympiad, he played in the 2014 UMADA Cup where he placed 12th/30. Earlier this year, he placed third in Mike’s Pharmacy Rapid Tournament. Even though he has made a mark in chess, he has not been able to play as often due his academic pursuits in Civil Engineering.
Neto, 19, is an ambitious player with a FIDE rating of 1557. He started playing chess in 2010 and two years later was able to defeat the senior champion.
In 2014, the 2013 Junior Champion suffered the same fate against Neto. He was awarded the title of best unrated player for his participation in the UMADA cup and also represented Guyana at the Inter-Guiana Games, where the team placed second overall.
Maria Varona Thomas
She was introduced into the game at the tender age of nine in Cuba where she grew up.
After playing in her home country for some years, she migrated to Guyana and participated in many local tournaments.
After a hiatus from the sport, she returned to the game in 2011 and in 2012, participated in the UMADA Cup in Suriname.
She also represented Guyana in the 41st Chess Olympiad and later on in the 2014 UMADA Cup held in Guyana. This year she has played in three local tournaments including the Mike’s Pharmacy Rapid Tournament. She also won the title of Women’s Candidate Master (WCM) at the 2.3.5 Sub-Zonal Tournament in Barbados.
Clementson, 20, is one of Guyana’s most decorated female players and was introduced into the game in 2009. The next year she participated in the Royal Chess Academy Chess Championship where she won the title of Best Female. She also has the experience of teaching underprivileged children of Albouystown at the RCA. The following year she represented Guyana at the Inter-Guiana Games and participated in the Sagicor U16 Open Tournament where she secured the award for the best female player.
Later that year she represented School of the Nations at the Inter-School Championships, winning the team event and she also won the award for Best Female. She also founded the U-Knighted Chess Club at the School of the Nations, where she continued to teach young students. In 2013, she once again represented Guyana at the Inter-Guiana Games, placing second and played in the Sagicor U20 Open Tournament. In 2014, she represented Guyana for the last time at the Inter-Guiana Games where they secured second place. She was also a participant in the 2014 UMADA Cup and the National Junior Qualifiers. Most recently she has expanded her organisation to the U-Knighted Chess Institute. She earned her rating in the SCL Rated Tournament in Barbados and boosted it to 1281 after her participation in the 2.3.5 Sub-Zonal Tournament there.
She has also volunteered as an arbiter for the Massy Primary Inter-School Championships in Barbados.
She was adjudged the Most Outstanding Junior Chess Player in 2007 by the Guyana Chess Federation and the Most Outstanding Junior Player in 2005 by the Queen’s College Chess Club. She accompanied the Guyana National Team to the Olympiad in Norway, where she attended the Instructors’ Seminars and the Arbiter’s Seminars. There she obtained a Developmental Instructor’s license and was also awarded the title of FIDE Arbiter after successfully sitting the exams.
Ali, 17, is an accomplished female junior. She played in her first tournament in 2007 and competed in several local tournaments. She is no stranger to team tournaments and has represented Guyana at the Inter-Guiana Games multiple times from 2011-2014. In 2014, she has received chess training from an International Master. After taking a break to focus on her studies, she had rekindled her passion and participated in the recent Andrew Arts Memorial Rated Tournament.
Clementson, 17, was introduced to chess in 2009 along with her sister, Jessica. That same year she participated in her first local tournament hosted by the Guyana Chess Federation. She also played in her second local tournament the following year. After the expansion of the U-Knighted Chess Institute, she began to teach students of School of the Nations as a service project, while managing her duties as the Multimedia Co-ordinator.
Earlier this year she also participated in the 2.3.5 Sub-Zonal Tournament in Barbados.