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All Set For 40th Olympiad
Claire Clarke, Contributor
Volume 1. No. 38
Phew! A collective sigh of relief was released by the Jamaica Chess Federation (JCF) this week, as days before the start of the 40th Chess Olympiad in Istanbul Turkey, word is that the funding is now available to send not one but two complete teams to the represent Jamaica at this elite chess tournament.
The hunt is still on for funds to cover the ticket of one reserve and other administrative cost, but the tickets to get the core team to Turkey have been secured. As JCF president Ian Wilkinson cheerfully said: "The good news is that the two teams will definitely be going!"
Sponsors on board to fund the Jamaica teams to the Olympiad include: Sports Development Foundation, Burger King, the University of Technology and the Magnificent Chess Foundation.
It took a lot of cajoling and networking by JCF executives, as well as contributions from team members personal funds to close the $2.5 million gap that existed up to three weeks ago that would allow one open team and one female team to get to Turkey.
The 40th Chess Olympiad in Istanbul, Turkey, starts on August 27, running until September 10.
There is still a gap to fill, but this will not prevent the team from going off to Turkey tomorrow."Our shortfall, practically speaking, is now only about $400,000 but I am still pursuing some people," Wilkinson said.
The team is scheduled to leave Jamaica tomorrow for arrival in Turkey on Monday, August 27. Registered members of the Jamaican team are:
Open team: Fide Master Warren Elliot, International Master Jomo Pitterson, Candidate Master Duane Rowe, National Master Damion Davy and National Master Andrew Mellace. Women's team: Women's Fide Master Deborah Richards-Porter, Krishna Gray, Women's Candidate Master Zhu Hui, Melisha Smith and Women's Candidate Master Ariel Barrett.
Wilkinson is satisfied with the team preparation plans so far and said "the teams are looking good." He added that this is by far the best prepared that Jamaica has ever been before an Olympiad. There are two clear goals that the teams have: these include winning the respective categories (which the women did at the last Olympiad in Russia 2010) and securing titles a minimum three of the men and women.
The competition starts on Tuesday, August 28 and 160 countries have registered to compete. Teams that are also registered from the Caribbean region include: Aruba, Barbados, Cuba, Dominica Republic, Puerto Rico and Trinidad and Tobago.
One of the most unique things so far at this Olympiad includes the make-up of the host countries privileged third team, which ChessMate understands will be comprised of children with an average age of eight and a half. Normally, the host country is given option to field three teams and their third team is normally made up of strong players who might have just missed the cut for their two other teams. Turkey, however, has chosen to go with youth.
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Claire Clarke is a former Women's National Champion, three-time Jamaica Women's team Chess Olympiad representative, trained journalist and editor.
Chess Olympiad: August 27-September 10, Istanbul, Turkey.
Harold Chan Open: September 29 and 30, venue to be announced.