Zara La Fleur emerged as the overall winner when the Trinidad and Tobago Chess Association (TTCA) National Junior (under-20) Chess Championships were held at the Cascadia Hotel in St Ann's last month.
La Fleur opted to compete in the open category of the competition instead of the female category. La Fleur, who also copped national junior honours in 2023, proved to be too good for both her male and female counterparts as she topped the open category after going unbeaten throughout the competition which concluded on January 14. La Fleur scored six out of seven possible points and recorded five wins and two draws in the competition.
Last year, La Fleur had dominant showings in various tournaments. In addition to copping the national junior title, she emerged as one of the top performers in the National Secondary Schools Chess Tournament and also placed third in the women's category at the National Chess Championships in August.
In the female category of this year's National Junior Championships, Aradhana Ramnarine Singh executed her moves and tactics to perfection to top the field. At December's National Youth Chess Championships, Ramnarine Singh walked away with the girls' under-16 title. A month later, she took it up a notch to capture the girls' under-20 crown.
Meanwhile, Fide Master (FM) Joshua Johnson showed off his quality at last month's Top 8 Invitational tournament, which was hosted by Southern Chess Club in San Fernando. TT's reigning Absolute chess champion, Johnson's class was once again on full display on the chess boards as he rattled off 6.5 points on his unbeaten run to the title and a $1,500-prize.
The 2023 CAC Games silver medallist was given a good challenge by runner-up Alan-Safar Ramoutar in the sixth round, but he held his own to keep his unbeaten run alive in the tournament as they drew their matchup. Ramoutar ended the tournament with 5.5 points and pocketed a $1,000-prize. And although Ramoutar ended the tournament unbeaten, he also drew his matches with third-place finisher Isaiah McIntosh and the sixth-placed Adrian Winter-Atwell. McIntosh received $700 for his third-place finish.
Ryan Harper and Vishnu Singh finished in fourth and fifth spots respectively, with the women's national female chess champion, Ysvett Hermoso Rodriguez, finishing seventh.