For a second consecutive year, Grandmaster (GM) Johan-Sebastian Christiansen has emerged as champion in the Orjan Lindroth Memorial Chess Tournament open category. The 2023 tournament was held at Breezes Resort. It began on May 31 and wrapped up on June 5.
In the competition, the players played nine intense rounds over four days. It featured players from nine countries including The Bahamas, Spain, Norway, Serbia, the United States of America (USA), Cuba, Canada, the Cayman Islands and Jamaica. The tournament utilized the Swiss system which is similar to a round-robin tournament. Cash prizes were awarded to the top five finishers in the open category and the top three finishers in the 1700 and under category.
The highest placed Bahamian in the open category was Dr. Kenville Lockhart who ended up 11th.
The 1700 and under category was won by Jamaica’s Angelus McDonald. Avian Pride, who was the best local player in that category, placed second.
Christiansen, who is Norwegian, was tied with Spanish GM Jose Jiminez with eight points, but won the tiebreaker. He said he was happy to be back and defend his title.
“I was playing at my top level,” Christiansen said. “I was lucky to play good chess and was able to come out with a very good score. I had to come back and defend my title and I was able to do so against a stronger field with more grandmasters.”
Christiansen will be looking to win a third title next year. Finishing third place in the open category was GM David Nieto who scored 6.5 points.
McDonald, who won the 1700 and under category for Jamaica, said he was happy for the competition but wished some other players did not withdraw from the tournament. The Jamaican finished with eight points, looking to move up from his ranking of 1640. He was undefeated and finished with two draws.
“There were some good players in this tournament but I fared well. The victory feels good but I was expecting to play against some other players. They did not show up. The quality was decent but there was more who were left out that was going to make it interesting,” McDonald said.
The 19-year-old is hoping to play in the open category in the future as he looks to move his 1640 rating past the 1700 mark.
Placing third in that category was Jamaican Christopher Murdock with 6.5 points.
Lockhart was the best local player in the open category, finishing 11th with a score of 4.5 points. He said he has a long way to go in the game of chess and is ready to embrace the challenge.
“My play could be better and I have quite a ways to go in my chess career,” Lockhart said. “I enjoyed the competition with our counterparts from Jamaica and playing against grandmasters. The last few days was a real look at how chess should be in The Bahamas. I think this will give us a good push going forward.”
Pride came away with seven points and missed out on winning that section by a point. The 15-year-old said he enjoyed playing in the tournament.
“It was a difficult tournament for me but I tried my best in every game. The best match for me was on Saturday when I played against Terrence Lindo from Jamaica. It was the first time playing against persons from different countries and it was a good experience,” Pride said.
Noah Albury was one of the youngest players in the open section and had the lowest rating – 1482. It did not stop the 17-year-old from putting on a show as he finished 16th out of 24 players. The St. Augustine’s College (SAC) student scored 3.5 points that he had to work hard for.
“Everyone who I played against were better than me. The first day was my best day as I won one and lost one, but it was a battle,” Albury said. “The loss was against a very tough opponent but I feel I played well. The category was tough but I was not scared because I knew I was going to do well.”
The 17-year-old opened the tournament on a strong note as he took down the highest ranked player in The Bahamas, Franklyn Gibson, who has a rating of 1895. Albury is a Candidate Master (CM) elect which means that he can elevate to the CM title but he knows that he has a long way to go.
The wife of the late Orjan Lindroth, Amanda Lindroth, who was a sponsor of the event, enjoyed seeing the level of competition that was on display. There were six grandmasters who played.
“My husband would have been thrilled with the participation level and the quality of chess played. He loved the game and love thought and learning. This certainly was an example of that,” Lindroth said.
The event was hosted by the Bahamas Chess Institute and president of the Bahamas Chess Federation (BCF) Candidate (CM) Kendrick Knowles played. Although he did not perform like he wanted to, he said he was happy with the fierce competition that was on display. He scored 2.5 points for an 18th place finish in the open division.
“It was the vision of Orjan Lindroth to bring in as much international masters to help the sport grow. It was a successful event although it was long and hard. I thought I played some of my best chess but the results would not show that. Hopefully I will play better when I am not the president,” Knowles said.
There were two women in action in the open category and there were five in the 1700 and under category. A total of 33 percent of the arbiters were women.
The title sponsor of the event was Scotiabank Bahamas Ltd.