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Husbands retains Rapid crown

Husbands retains Rapid crown
Orlando Husbands (right) retained the National Rapid title after defeating Justin Blackman in a playoff. (BCF)

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Barbados’ top chess player Orlando Husbands retained the national rapid title in dramatic fashion over the weekend.

The 23-year-old International Master claimed his second national title for the year after winning a decisive playoff against top seed Justin Blackman when the two-day championship climaxed on Sunday night at the Chess Centre on Exmouth Gap, Brandons, St Michael.

Contested as an online event, the championship was decided by a playoff after both Husbands and Blackman finished with six-and-a-half out of a maximum seven points. They played to a draw when they faced off in the fourth round.

The play-off was billed as an over-the-board match-up and Husbands, who won the National Open title in October, triumphed after Blackman’s time on the clock expired.

With the victory, Husbands is in a position to repeat the unprecedented national treble he achieved in 2018 by also claiming the National Blitz Championship, which is scheduled for Sunday as an online event.

Husbands and Blackman, 29, winner of the Caribbean Blitz Online Tournament last August were well clear of their rivals but there was a keen contest for third place as four players finished on four-and-a-half points.

Justin Parsons took third place on the tie-break ahead of Nitin Mahtani, Cleveston Ifill and Emar Edwards.

Kyle Sandiford, who placed seventh with four points, won the prize for the best player with a rating of under 1600, while Louis Wilson, Aaron Haynes and Adam Roachford, who each finished with four points to complete the top ten, shared the prize for the best player with a rating of under 1400.

Hannah Wilson and Azaria Johnson, who each collected three-and-a-half points, shared the prize for the Best Female.

Husbands started last Saturday’s opening day with a victory against Kiarra Eversley and also won against Edwards and Ifill before drawing with Blackman. In the final three rounds on Sunday, he defeated Mahtani, Parsons and Sandiford.

Blackman won against Haynes, Johnson and Parsons on the first day before defeating Sandiford, Mahtani and Louis Wilson on the second day.

The championship, which attracted 25 players, also served as preparation for a 14-member Barbados team competing in the inaugural FIDE Online World Cadets and Youth Rapid Chess Championships. (PR)