Teenager Kyle Sandiford upstaged senior rivals to narrowly win the National Chess Championship 1st Qualifier in exciting fashion.
Needing to win his final round game against front-runner Emar Edwards, the 17-year-old Sandiford prevailed in a tense finish when the four-day event concluded on Errol Barrow Day at the Chess Centre on Exmouth Gap, Brandons.
Both Sandiford, the no. 2 seed and Edwards, who was seeded at no. 5, finished with six out of a maximum seven points, but Sandiford was crowed champion on account of winning the head-to-head clash.
Top seed Akeem Cox, the winner the 1st Qualifier last year, finished third with five-and-a-half points to clinch the last qualifying spot for the National Championship finals scheduled for September.
Fifteen-year-old Gaybrianna Moore, who placed fourth with five points, won the prize for the Best Female, leading a string of strong performances from four teenaged girls who finished in the top half of the 37-player field.
Louis Wilson, who also ended with fifth points to cop fifth place, was the Best Under-16, while the list of top ten was completed by five players finishing on four-and-a-half points – Vanessa Greenidge, Aaron Haynes, Taiye Estwick, Azaria Johnson and Adam Roachford.
There was an air of excitement ahead of the last round which started eight players in contention for a top three finish and most of the attention was on Board 1 where the previously unbeaten Edwards and Sandiford battled it out.
Sandiford, who placed second in the Barbados Olympic Association’s Independence Invitational Games (BiiG) Michael Forde Memorial Championship, had earlier scored victories against Rory Prescod, Yeshua Hill, Lawrence Depradine, Wilson and Estwick and his only hiccup was a third round defeat to Haynes.
Edwards, a popular personality in road tennis circles, achieved successive wins against Melvin Terence, Moore, Greenidge, Haynes, Cox and Cyprian La Touche before losing to Sandiford.
The other two Qualifiers are set for May and July with the first three finishers in each advancing to the finals to join reigning champion Orlando Husbands. (BCF)
Kyle Sandiford (left) defeated Emar Edwards in the final round to win the Qualifier on the tie-break after the two players finished level on points. (BCF Pictures)
Gaybrianna Moore (left) won the prize for the Best Female.
Louis Wilson (left) won the prize for the Best Under-16.