Darren McKennis still undefeated at Chess

Friday, February 15, 2019

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Thirteen-year-old Campion College student Darren McKennis is poised to win his first closed tournament after defeating Jamaica College student Christopher Lyn in the latest round of the 2019 Humphrey Gayle Memorial Invitational Tournament held recently at the Jamaica Olympic Association.

The rising star came out victorious against close rival Lyn in the top-of- the-table clash. A symmetrical London opening didn't play out too well for Lyn as his queenside attack backfired after McKennis took advantage of Lyn's exposed position. By move 30, Lyn resigned in the face of impending checkmate and loss of further material. This victory propelled McKennis to seven points and left him with a 2600 performance rating, plus an unofficial 1800 international rating. Lyn remains a distant second place on 5.5 points.

National Master (NM) Ryan Blackwood secured his fifth win of the tournament after defeating Dr Valence Jordan in what was an endgame masterpiece. NM Blackwood opened up a closed position and utilised his queen to win the thrilling 57-move game. This victory left NM Blackwood in third place on five points and propelled him further in his goal of reaching the 2000 elo barrier to receive his FIDE Candidate Master title. Dr Jordan currently is tied for sixth place on 2.5 points.

After a lacklustre start, top seed Adrian Palmer regained his momentum as he defeated Caribbean Maritime student Nathan Belinfante to rise to fourth place on four points. Palmer calculated the precise moves in the sharp endgame as he sacrificed his rook in order to advance his connected pass pawns for the win. Belinfante resigned from the lost position and is in fifth place on three points.

The remaining matches saw a draw between Michael Diedrick and Brandon Lobban where the former decided to play on in a nearly five-hour rook endgame and Douglas Markland successfully recorded his first victory against Andre Soares.

The tournament's final rounds will see McKennis taking on Diedrick and Lobban at the Christar Villas Hotel and PCJ Auditorium, respectively. McKennis will seek to end his campaign on a perfect score in what promises to be a spectacular finale.

The sponsors of the tournament included the Sports Development Foundation, Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica, Jamaica Olympic Association, and Magnificent Chess Foundation.

— David Rose

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