A move by the Barbados Chess Federation to exclude three players from the national team for the upcoming Chess Olympiad in Batumi, Georgia, from September 23 to October 6, 2018, is not sitting well with other members.
Those individuals overlooked are junior players Azaria Johnson of Harrison College and Kiarra Eversley from Queen’s College along with Kemp Lynch who was part of the 2016 Barbados Olympiad Chess Team which put in the best ever performance by a Bajan team in the country’s 30-year history of the games.
Now more fuel has been added to the situation, as Barbados TODAY was reliably informed that spokesman for the group, international master Terry Farley, who has represented Barbados at numerous Olympiads including the 2016 Games, was removed from the team and replaced by Jerome Harewood.
The situation manifested in February this year, and the National Sports Council was forced to intervene but the matter is still unresolved.
Questions have been raised and the most pertinent among them being how could the Barbados Chess Federation select the ten-member team when the National Sports Council has not yet addressed the matter publicly or given its findings on the matter.
In addition, members also want to know how can Justin Blackman who hasn’t played competitively for the past six years, make the team when the Chess Federation’s selection criteria indicate that a player must be actively playing for 12 months prior to the Olympia year.
Members have also queried how is it that Lynch who has been actively competing – unlike Blackman – and has featured in three major tournaments is now just an alternate for the team.
Similarly, with the women, eyebrows have been raised with the selection of Donna Murray, treasurer of the Barbados Chess Federation, over the two junior alternate players Azaria Johnson and Kiarra Eversley who had convincingly defeated her in 2017.
Statistics show that last year Johnson won three of her four matches against Murray and similarly, Eversley was victorious twice in her three encounters against the senior who has been rather stagnant in her performances.
According to a reputable source, Murray’s performances at the Olympiad have been below par. In 2012 she failed to score a single win in three games, in 2014 her score was one out of eight, and in 2016, one of nine. In a total of 19 games Murray has won just three games. And in her last six years of playing chess she has lost over 200 rating points.
Farley charged that this was not a case of a player bringing experience to the team but rather one of the federation rewarding mediocrity. He contended that the exclusion of the mentioned players from the team was a complete violation of the Barbados Chess Federation’s selection policy. He also deemed it an injustice to those players who trained hard and did well not to be included.
“What more did he [Kemp Lynch] had to do to be selected? Why does it appear that he is being penalized for doing well? It seems that Mr Herbert [Allan, President of the Barbados Chess Federation] answers to no one for his actions. There are so many negative things being said about young people and now they are doing the right things they are being penalized and marginalized by people who should know better. This is now having a negative impact on the team. Why would you want a team to leave the island in such division and lack of cohesion?” Farley asked.
He added: “I met with deputy director Neil Murrell [National Sports Council] last Tuesday, to show him the facts concerning this issue. From what I heard he met with the federation previously and it was the intention of the sports council to meet [separately] with the two groups and then bring the two groups together in a meeting. That is where we were at in this matter. Now I am hearing that the team was selected. And the reason given is that airfares going up and they are trying to meet deadlines including that of the July 23rd registration date.
“We are not the ones that draw out this process. We always responded in a timely manner to the federation and they are the ones that have wasted time on the matter. And as I said they are bringing no facts to support what they are saying. For example, they are saying that the finding of the selection panel is confidential. So how do we get an issue like this resolved? We have provided all the facts but yet still we can’t get any answers and the federation is not even willing to refute what we are saying.”
When contacted, Herbert said the Barbados Chess Federation had made a decision on the team and that the selection process was final. He added the selection committee consisted of five independent individuals.
The team selected includes six-time national champion Martyn Del Castilho, Justin Blackman, Orlando Husbands, Bryan Prescott and Jerome Harewood, Julisa Figueroa, Katrina Blackman, Gabriella Cumberbatch, Vanessa Greenidge and Donna Murray.