News Room’s videographer Jessica Callender is new national Women’s Chess champion

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The News Room’s videographer Jessica Callender played unbeaten over the last two weekends to emerge champion of the Guyana Chess Federation’s Women’s National Chess championship, sponsored by Diamond Insurance.

Currently the highest rated active female chess player in Guyana, the 21-year-old Callender has entered her name in the annals of local chess with her maiden national title.

Below is a report of the nine-round championship as presented by the Guyana Chess Federation 

The Women’s National Chess Championship, sponsored by Diamond Insurance, came to a close on Sunday (August 20) when Jessica Callender emerged victorious on eight points after nine rounds. Callender played unbeaten, drawing her games against Aniyah Couchman and Anaya Lall.

The championship came down to a clash between Callender and qualifying champion Sasha Shariff on the final day. The final point Callender earned here solidified her victory.

After drawing in their encounter during the Qualifiers the duo played a tense four-and-a-half-hour match, with both sides eager to secure the victory. They played a symmetrical English opening.

By move 66, Callender had captured all of Shariff’s pieces and was up a Queen. She checkmated her opponent 10 moves later. Callender is a former UG Chess Champion and has represented Guyana on multiple occasions, including the most recent FIDE chess Olympiad in India.

This is however, her first national title. The 21-year-old is currently the highest rated active female chess player in Guyana. She ranks 10th overall in ratings for active chess players in Guyana as of August 2023.

Callender is also quite active in developing chess locally as a member of the Women in Chess Committee, a volunteer coach in the GCF Chess club and part-time assistant arbiter in some youth tournaments.

Shariff, who held the women’s title from 2020 to 2022, finished the event on 6.5 points. She drew her game against Anaya Lall and lost matches to Ciel Clement and eventual champion Callender.

The third place winner is young Aniyah Couchman, who is currently representing Guyana in a team at the Youth CAC Chess Festival in Trinidad and Tobago. She finished on six points after losing to Shariff and Aditi Joshi, and drawing her matches against Waveney Johnson and Callender.

Italy Ton Chung (five points), Johnson (five points), Joshi (4.5 points), Clement (3.5 points), Adia Alphonso (three points), Lall (three points) and Chelsea Harrison (0.5 points) finished in positions 4-10 respectively.

This event was made possible with the hard work of Tournament Director Irshad Mohamed, Chief Arbiter John Lee, Tournament Coordinator Marcia Lee and Assistant Arbiters Kim Shing Chong and Taffin Khan.

This event was also a farewell to Lall, the current Under-16 chess champion and a national player. Lall has now migrated.

In her time playing for Guyana she was a beacon of inspiration to local chess players, particularly those in the community of persons with disabilities.

As a Deaf chess player, the 13-year-old’s determination led her to excelling at the game, even against opponents who often had years of experience above her.

The local chess fraternity will miss her dearly and wishes her the best as furthers her education. The GCF also wishes to thank School of the Nations for providing the venue for the National Championship.

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