Barbados’ four-time national women’s champion Katrina Blackman has every reason to feel like a queen after winning the gold medal at the 2018 Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Women’s Chess Championship.
In a tense finish to the championship, the 25-year-old Blackman clinched the US$1 000 top prize on a tie-break after finishing level on points with Ailen Oriana Mena of Curacao when the six-day tournament concluded at the All Seasons Resort in Sunset Crest last night.
Both Blackman, the no. 6 seed, and Mena, the no. 2 seed, went into the final round level on six points in a three-way tie at the top of the table. With the pair clinching victories to finish on seven points, Blackman took gold on account of winning their head to head clash in the sixth round.
“It feels really nice. Being ranked at no. 6 and actually winning against persons higher rated than me by a lot of points, it feels really good,” Blackman said.
“It was down to a lot of hard work, coaching and doing additional work after coaching.”
There was tremendous anticipation when the final round pushed off with Woman Candidate Master Blackman, Woman FIDE Master Mena and Woman FIDE Master Catherine Kaslan of Suriname at the top of the table in a three-way tie.
Blackman defeated fellow Barbados representative, Woman Candidate Master Julissa Figueroa and then anxiously had to await the outcome of the games involving the other two front-runners. Kaslan was eliminated from the gold medal after playing to a draw with former Barbados national champion Gabriela Cumberbatch, which confirmed Blackman as the winner even though Mena would go onto beat another former national champion, Donna Murray.
No. 1 seed, Woman FIDE Master Thais Castillo Morales of Costa Rica took fourth place on a tie-break after finishing with five and a half points, the same as Trinidadian Woman International Master Gabriella Johnson and Woman Candidate Master Reyna Frijde of Suriname. Another Surinamese entrant, Kaithlyn Tjong Tjin Joe (5) was next in the standings, followed by Barbadians Cumberbatch (4.5), Vanessa Greenidge (4.5), Murray (4), Figueroa (4), Azaria Johnson (4) and Kiarra Eversley (4).
Blackman’s gold medal followed her silver at the Sub-Zonals 2.3.5 Championships in Jamaica in June.
“That experience was much different. I really did not even expect to place in the top five. That was one even better than this. It was different. I was actually scared to go. After playing the Heroes Day Cup (in April) and performing horribly, I wasn’t sure how I would perform at Sub-Zonals. I felt really good about that,” she said.
The CAC Women’s Championship, which was hosted by the Barbados Chess Federation in association with the Confederation of Chess for Americas, attracted 16 participants – seven locals and nine overseas entrants. At the prize-giving ceremony, which was attended by Barbados Olympic Association general manager Glyne Clarke and director Ytannia Wiggins, all the participants received gift bags compliments of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.