Young Jamaicans Perform Superbly At International Chess Championships
Nine-year-old chess whiz, Leighton Barrett and two of his peers performed superbly at the Annual World Open Chess Championship, held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the United States of America July 4-8, and returned home with trophies and cash prizes.
Leighton, the Sts. Peter and Paul Prep student, whose participation in the competition was sponsored by JN Money Transfer, finished fifth in the under thirteen age cohort and third among players with international ratings below 900 points, making him one of the youngest Jamaicans to achieve this level internationally. It was Leighton’s first competition at the international level in the ratings category, where he faced 88 competitors with a rating of under 900.
His Jamaican teammates, 11 year-old Malik Buchanan of St. Andrew Prep and 14-year-old Jason Lawson of Campion College, also performed well at the Championships. Malik finished 8th behind Leighton in the under 900 rating category; and placed first, in the unrated category; while Jason placed first in the under 1200 rating category and the blitz championships.
“I am feeling very good and excited,” the usually shy Leighton declared, noting that he was proudest of his performance in the international rating category. “I started at 40th place and I just kept on playing and winning.”
Pointing out that it was a major achievement, his mother, Marjorie Barrett said that, “He was playing with persons who were far more experienced and in their 30s and 40s, therefore, it was very competitive. I’m just really proud that he placed third. That’s a real big achievement at his age.”
His coach, National Master Ryan Blackwood, the coach who accompanied the three Jamaican students to the tournament, said the performance at the Annual World Open Chess Championship will be a definite boost to Leighton’s international ratings.
“At his age, you want to build him internationally. And, not many local players get the opportunity to participate in international competitions; therefore, this will certainly boost his international ratings. In another year, he could be the youngest master in the English-speaking Caribbean,” Mr. Blackwood affirmed. He said that Leighton could have won the tournament, “if he had won the final game against his 16 year-old competitor.”
Mr. Blackwood pointed out that the greatest challenge for all three Jamaican participants was their ability to adapt to the various styles of playing, particularly the length of games. However, he noted that after Leighton’s fifth place finish, he played several practice matches, to further adjust to the various playing styles of his competitors.
“After the third round I saw a more mature player. He adjusted to the playing styles; and he was staying at the board for longer periods. A few of his games went beyond two hours. This is really mature,” the Coach said of his protégé.
“We are extremely proud of Leighton’s performance; and that of his teammates Jason and Malik, who all demonstrated that we have a wealth of talent beyond traditional sports,” said Leesa Kow, General Manager of JN Money Services Limited, which owns the international JN Money Transfer brand, Leighton’s sponsors.
“Providing the opportunities to expose talents, such as chess players, are initiatives that corporate entities, like ours, should undertake. And, as a company which is engaged in remittances, human development and the growth of our young people are very important us,” Miss Kow underscored.
Share and Enjoy