International Master Orlando Husbands has established himself as the favourite to win the Barbados Chess Federation’s 2018 National Championships after defeating defending champion Martyn Del Castilho in an epic contest.
The two top seeds went into their vital sixth round game with perfect records and Husbands took a major step towards denying Del Castilho a hat-trick of titles by winning an intriguing four-hour duel at the Chess Centre on Exmouth Gap, Brandons.
With Husbands defeating Allan Herbert in the next round and Del Castilho having to settle for a draw against Jerome Harewood, it means that Husbands takes a lead of one and a half points into Tuesday’s eighth round of games, sitting comfortably at the top of the table on a maximum seven points.
All eyes were on the match-up between Husbands and Del Castilho in a contest that was largely expected to play a significant role in determining the winner of the 11-round championship and seven-time national champion Dr Philip Corbin, watching on as a spectator, described it as a fascinating battle.
FIDE Master Del Castilho, a six-time national champion, is in second place on five and a half points, one more than former national Under-20 champion Justin Parsons.
The top half of the table is completed by Harewood with four points, Mark Lowe on three and a half and Emar Edwards on three.
Husbands will face seventh-placed Randy Bennett in Tuesday’s eighth round of games, starting at 6 p.m., while Del Castilho opposes CARIFTA Under-18 sub-category bronze medallist Shane Maughn.
The Championships, which started on August 18, feature 12 players in a round-robin format. They are vying for a top prize of $1 000 and an airline ticket to the 2019 Central American and Caribbean Championships.
It is also the final preparation for members of the Barbados team heading off to the 43rd Chess Olympiad in Batumi, Georgia from September 23to October 6.
In the VEXX Tournament, which is being played at the same time as the National Championships, veteran Othneil Harewood is the leader after completing four successive wins in the seven-round competition.
Another old-stager, Michael Barker, is second on three points followed by Cyprian La Touche and Gaybrianna Moore, who are both on two and a half. (BCF)
Orlando Husbands (left) defeated defending champion Martyn Del Castilho in the sixth round to move into the lead. (BCF)
Third-placed Justin Parsons (right) won against Akeem Cox in the seventh round. (BCF)