FIDE master Martyn Del Castilho defended his title to take the 2012 National Chess Championship in a spectacular last round at the Bridgetown Chess Centre over the weekend.
Going into the final round 11 of the 12 player tournament, up to four players were in contention to take the title and each of these players was critically watching his game and anxiously observing the games of the nearest rivals.
Entering the last round, Del Castilho (9 points) had a half-point lead over fellow FIDE master Delilse Warner (8 ? points), who himself had another half-point lead over international master Terry Farley and top-rated junior Yutien Poon, both on eight points.
Del Castilho would have fancied himself to take the title as he had the lowest rated opponent of the leaders in first timer finalist Steven Lucas, while Warner faced the wily veteran FIDE master Dr. Philip Corbin and Farley and Poon faced off against each other.
These three matches were the last to finish and the intensity could be seen among the players as they battled it out. Of these three games, the first to finish was the Warner/Corbin battle. Dr. Corbin tried to get in his pet Elephant gambit opening as black but Warner sidestepped it with some devious home preparation. Corbin then strayed in unfamiliar territory and Warner was able to outplay Dr. Corbin to claim victory and momentarily take the lead.
Next came a momentous upset, as junior Poon defeated his coach Farley from what many observers thought was a draw position. This was Poon’s first victory over master Farley and shows his continued improvement as a player. Poon was now temporarily in joint second with Del Castilho.
So it was now down to the final game of Del Castilho versus Steven Lucas. Lucas was giving it his all and with the black pieces had played the French Defence to set up a stubborn solid blocking position to deny Del Castilho. However Del Castilho was not to be denied and he played with a level of determination not seen from him before and he eventually was able to overcome Lucas and claimed his third consecutive national chess title.
Warner had spent the last three rounds coaching all of Del Castilho’ s opponents in an attempt to inspire them to take the needed ? point from him that would lead to a deciding play-off, if the points were tied at the top. However this was not to be and Warner could do no more than look on and grimace as any title opportunities slid from his grasp.
Other victories in the last round were also garnered by Orlando Husbands, Kemp Lynch and Bryan Prescod over Jerome Harewood, Lawrence Depradine and Andrea Jonoha respectively.