The first chapter in Olympiad Chess history for St Vincent and the Grenadines is closed. The names Brian Cottle, Chinedu Enemchukwu, Ugur Mentes, James Schneider, Oris Robinson and Israel Bruce will find their rightful place when the chess history of this nation is duly documented.
This team of five (5) players and 0ne (1) official sat out on a mission to place the name of our beloved country amongst that of highly developed and experienced nations across the chess playing globe.
When they departed St. Vincent and the Grenadines on 25th July 2022, the general view was that they were heading into unchartered territory and that the likelihood of them loosing their chess way was very likely than not. As such no amount of poor performance was going to be held against this team. Afterall the SVG Chess Federation only got its acts together by way of formation in December of 2021. The thought of participating in an Olympiad, the highest level of competitive chess in the world must have been far from our minds.
It was very clear that the Israel Bruce led executive had other ideas, and as such the 5-member playing contingent with Bruce as administrative head of delegation was Chennai bound. The name of St Vincent and the Grenadines rang out in the Olympiad Hall in the province of Tamil Nadu in the presence of a number of dignitaries including India’s President Mahindra Modi, President of the international chess body FIDE Arkady Dvorkovich amongst others. Oris Robinson was joined by his Captain Chinedu Enemchukwu and teammate Ugur Mentes in marching the blue, gold and green flay across the floor of the Mamallapuram arena.
No too soon after was day 1 of the Olympiad and in the presence of Thambi the mascot of the 2022 gala event the minnows from St Vincent and the Grenadines was pitted against the power house of Panama. When the DSVG team suffered 4-0 on that first day, many shouted for the players to stay focus, this was mainly since they jammed the Panamanians for hours before succumbing. It was the fighting spirt of His Excellency Paramount Chief Joseph Chatoyer that said to the supporters far and near send the boys your love.
On day two the team lost 1-3 to the Saudi Arabia. For both encounters the opponents were much more highly rated in the sport through the internationally accepted rating system. The least rated players on both the Panama and the Saudi Arabia teams were rated higher that the one and only one rated player on Team SVG Chess, that player being Enemchukwu. It was Captain Enemchukwu who secure first board win for SVG and this must have sent a message to others in the team that it was within them to fight.
By round 3 St Vincent and the Grenadines set clear its intention, not to lie down and play dead. Brian Cottle secured his first board win in an Olympiad defeating Maldives while a draw had to be settled on by Captain Chinedu his board. Confidence was now growing our scores had moved from 0 to 1 to 1.5 sowing incremental improvements in the score line for the St Vincent and the Grenadines outfit. Meaning SVG lost 2.5 – 1.5
It was the same result for the SVG team at the end of round 4 as Enemchukwu won his game and Cottle drew his, this meant that SVG had to settle for another 1.5 to 2.5 defeat to Gambia.
Round five (5) saw the African Nation of Central African Republic, by this time the Vincentian team had had a reasonable sighter of the games village and the nerves were a lot more settled. In swift march we defeated the Central African nation 4-0 thanks to Enemchukwu, Cottle, Robinson and Schneider.
It was time to face the Pacific nation of Nauru for this the sixth round of competition but the SVG team stumbled in that encounter and lost 0.5-3.5 with Vice Captain Cottle eking out a draw for St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Brunei had its team line the other side of the boards with St Vincent and the Grenadines as its opponent for round 7. This match ended with the score 2.5 – 1.5 in favour of Brunei. Round 7 was now over and round eight around the corner. Team SVG lineup was Chinedu, Brian, Oris and James.
FIDE and the All-India Chess Federation (AICF) were very considerate and as such the players were granted a rest day. This was an opportunity for the guys to rejuvenate themselves and get ready for round eight (8). This resulted in SVG defeating Niger 4-0
By the time the 9th round approached the SVG team was stretched to its limit. We clashed with Fiji, they too were rested and may have mapped out the SVG strategy and so SVG we went back to loosing 1-3 to Fiji. Enemchukwu winning the lone game for SVG
Palau was the next stop for the SVG team in this the penultimate round and it was obvious that the Coach sitting all the way in Havana Cuba was not the happiest so the team knew that they had to put a smile on his face again and so it was the team delivered its third 4-0 trashing in the 44th Olympiad
The final round was essentially an anticlimax for the St. Vincent and the Grenadines team as we faced off with Gabon. James Schneider and his team was in hopes if only for a half point on board 4 manned by James. But this was not to be and it all appeared an anticlimax.
In the end St. Vincent and the Grenadines which sent 1 rated player and 4 unrated players to the 44th Olympiad and no player with a title returns to the shore with two players qualified for titles, Captain Enemchukwu for a FM (FIDE MASTER) and Brian Cottle for a CM (CANDIDATE MASTER). James Schneider came within a whisker on the final day to qualify for a CM also.
Clearly the team delivered much more than expectation in its first mission abroad. Robinson, Mentes and Schneider are all expected to be rated players thus lifting the pedigree of the SVG players.
Commendations are in order for the entire SVG team for placing our country on the global Chess map but more so, exceptionally for both Vice Captain, Brian Cottle and Captain, Chinedu Enemchukwu who now entitled themselves to lifelong titles as Masters of Chess. FM and CM respectively.
The Saint Vincent and the Grenadines contingent to the 44th Chess Olympiad a first for a team from our country had Mr. Israel R Bruce, President of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Chess Federation and Opposition Senator as Head of Delegation.
Three members of the team returned to the state on August 12th 2022.