(CMR) The Cayman Islands national chess team will represent the country at the 44th Chess Olympiad being held in Chennai, India, from 28 July to 10 August. This is the first time that the Cayman Islands is competing in the Chess Olympiad.
The Cayman Islands Chess Federation was formed in 2018, when the country officially joined the International Chess Federation, commonly referred to by its French acronym, FIDE. While the team has succeeded in the online Olympiad format in 2020 and 2021, this is their first classical, over-the-board, international Olympiad tournament.
The team, announced in April, comprises five players: Clifford Shaw, Shaun Tracey, Christopher Young, Malcolm Powell, and Laia Swaminathan (reserve player). The team has been training hard since then, with the team coach International Master Jomo Pitterson, who is also the national coach of Jamaica.
The team will be led by the Head of Delegation Woman International Master Anzel Laubscher, who brings with her a wealth of experience and has been a coach in the Cayman Islands in 2017.
Cayman Islands Chess Federation (CICF) (formed as Cayman Chess Club) has been the anchor for the chess community on the island. Formed in 2012 by Shaun Tracey and Carlo Lee and later joined by Malcolm Powell, they have been striving to develop generations of chess players to represent the Cayman Islands in the international arena. This Olympiad is the culmination of 10 years of hard work.
As CICF President, Tracey has led the development of chess in the Cayman Islands and represented Cayman at several international tournaments while balancing his legal career at Campbell's. As a CICF Director, Lee is a brand developer, organizer and photographer and has spearheaded the Chess in Schools program in the islands. He hopes to secure enough funding and government support to re-start the schools' program and continue developing Cayman's youth as strong chess players.
Secretary and Treasurer Malcolm Powell has been instrumental in organizing local tournaments and dealing with FIDE. As a player, he has also competed in tournaments in Jamaica and the US, and as a coach, he co-presented the Cayman Queen's Gambit classes for female beginners last year. Cliff Shaw, who will play on board one, is a highly experienced player who once beat former World Champion Vasily Smyslov in an exhibition match.
Christopher Young is a long-standing member of the Cayman chess community and one of the winners of local tournaments.
Laia Swaminathan (13) is the only female and junior member of the team. She was the inter-school Champion of the Cayman Islands in 2020 and has been playing chess since the age of 5. She is excited to be back in her hometown of Chennai to participate in what is to be the biggest Olympiad event in history.
Some 189 countries have registered to participate, including Norway, whose team includes World Champion Magnus Carlsen. This event will be challenging for the team as the games can go on for up to 6 hours at a time and will test their physical and mental endurance.
Each day will include research on the opponent and preparation for the game, and evenings will include analysis of the past game and further training. Updates will be provided on the CICF Facebook page.