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Blackman, Del Castilho shine


Blackman, Del Castilho shine

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Barbados’ reigning national champions Katrina Blackman and Martyn Del Castilho brought joy to the local chess community by securing medals at the Americas Sub-Zonal 2.3.5 Championships in Jamaica.

Blackman, a four-time national women’s queen, captured silver in the women’s division, while Del Castilho, a six-time national men’s champion, collected bronze in the open section when the six-day championships concluded on Monday at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston.

Both divisions were keenly contested and went right down to the wire as several players battled for the top positions.

Woman Candidate Master Blackman, seeded at No. 13, finished with six and a half out of a maximum nine points, trailing gold medallist Jennifer Almanzar Vasquez of the Dominican Republic by a mere half-point. FIDE Master Del Castilho, seeded at No. 4, tallied seven points and was a half-point behind champion Shane Matthews of Jamaica.

By virtue of finishing in the top three, Blackman gained a Women’s International Master norm, while Del Castilho secured an International Master norm. Three norms are required for the title of International Master. In addition, Blackman will be provisionally awarded the title of Woman FIDE Master on the condition that she moves her rating to 1900.

Blackman, whose current rating is 1622, held the lead on the tie-break going into the final round, but was forced to settle for a draw against Jamaican Krishna Gray as Vasquez defeated another Jamaican, Ariel Barrett, to capture the gold medal.

The Bajan champion scored four wins and five draws – all against higher rated opponents – and defeated the top three seeds: Polina Karelina (1875) of The Bahamas, Rachel Miller (1835) of Jamaica and Elizabeth Hazim Gonzalez (1823) of the Dominican Republic.

Del Castilho, rated at 2233, recorded a 2298 performance and completed six wins and two draws. His most notable victory was against top seed Carlos Abreu Jean (2336) of the Dominican Republic.

At the start of the final round, Del Castilho was one of eight players in joint second place and managed a podium place after defeating Trinidad and Tobago’s Under-16 gold medallist Alan-Safar Ramoutar.

Barbados’ other entrant in the championships, Karen Julissa Figueroa, finished 13th in the women’s section with four and a half points. (BCF)