Woman FIDE Master (WFM) Maria Varona-Thomas is the favorite to win the national women’s chess championships which commence today at the National Resource Centre.
The experienced Varona-Thomas is Guyana’s first Woman FIDE Master and is the highest rated female player with a FIDE rating of 1775.
Her stiffest challenge is expected to come from Woman Candidate Master Sheriffa Ali who has a FIDE rating of 1365.
Varona-Thomas and Ali were members of the national female team which represented Guyana at the last World Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan.
This is the first time in the history of chess in Guyana that an all-female national chess championships is being held and the top five players at the conclusion of the championships will be eligible to represent Guyana at the World Chess Olympiad in Batumi, Georgia from September 22 to October 1, a release from the Guyana Chess Federation stated.
The six-round Swiss system competition will have a time control of one hour, sudden death and, according to a release from the GCF, “this is the federation first step towards the development of Women in chess in Guyana.
“The federation will be aiming at increasing the total number of females who play chess in Guyana and providing them with the countless opportunities associated with the game,” the release added.
Also in the battle for top honours will be lawyer Yolander Persaud, FIDE rating 1113 who was also part of the last female team in Baku while Shazeeda Rahim, and young rising stars such as 12-year-old Chelsea Juma of St. Stanislaus College and 14-year-old Sasha Shariff will also be competiting.
Both Juma and Shariff participated in the recent 7th Carifta Chess Championships where Guyana was represented for the first time in its history and no doubt they will be determined to make their mark among the top players.
Also, a keen eye must be kept for the Johnson sisters Nellisha and Waveney.
Nellisha participated in the National Junior Qualifiers and qualified for the National Junior Chess Championships. She also participated in the 7th Carifta Chess Championships and is a promising player.
Visitors and viewers are welcome. Registration fee is GYD $1000 and interested persons can contact Tournament Director, Irshad Mohammed on 664-1650 or Assistant Tournament Director, Anthony Drayton, on 613 – 2083.
Rounds will commence at 10 am on both days and all games will be played in accordance with FIDE rules and regulations, the release stated.