Jomo Pitterson - contributed
It was high drama at the Jamaica Conference Centre over the weekend, when National Master and three-time Jamaica National Champion Jomo Pitterson defied the odds to defeat Jamaican-born International Grandmaster Maurice Ashley in the last round of the JMMB/Burger King Frederick Cameron Chess Open, to take top honours.
Pitterson entered the final round on 4.5 points, half point behind Ashley who had defeated his previous five opponents to be on a perfect five points from five games. Pitterson faced a must-win situation with the black pieces if he was to take the top prize, while Ashley needed only a draw.
As the game entered the final phase where both players had less than five minutes on their clocks, Pitterson made good use of his superior position to close out the Grandmaster with a series of deft tactical manoeuvres. Ashley, who appeared stunned by Pitterson's play in the end, sat motionless as the final few seconds on his clock ran out, which resulted in thunderous applause from the spectators in the Conference Centre.
Pitterson, who has played and achieved excellent results in a number of overseas tournaments this year, will, over the next few years, be aiming to secure an international master title.
Grandmaster Ashley, who turned 41 in March of this year, is the first international Grandmaster to participate in a local chess tournament. He learned to play chess when he was about eight years old while living in Jamaica. He started high school at Wolmer's Boys, but left Jamaica at about 12 years of age and went to live in the United States of America where his passion for chess developed. Ashley rose to the highest chess level of International Grandmaster in 1999 and in the process, became the first and until this year, the only person of African-descent to do so.
The JMMB/Burger King Frederick Cameron Chess Open, which was organised by Magnificent Chess Limited under the auspices of the Jamaica Chess Federation, was the biggest tournament in the history of Jamaican chess with a turnout of over 200 competitors. The field included 10 of Jamaica's 11 active National Masters, two FIDE Masters and Grandmaster Maurice Ashley, who was a guest of the Magnificent Chess Limited.