Kingston, Jamaica – February 4, 2016: After a ten-year hiatus, the National Schoolgirls’ Chess Championship is back on the local chess calendar and will run from February 4 - 11, 2016. The return of the Championship was made possible through the support of the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) and the Kasparov Chess Foundation.
The last Schoolgirls Chess Championship was staged in 2005, when the Queen’s School edged Wolmer’s Girls High School 2-1 to take the National title. Since that Championship, support of girls’ chess at the high school level has been checkered.
However, the new Chair of the Jamaica Chess Federation’s (JCF) Women’s Chess Committee, Listra Clemetson said the Federation has been working to turn the situation around and is now seeing results. “The last three years have seen significant and sustained growth of the sport amongst girls at the primary/prep level, which is an indicator of the need for a girls-only tournament for these players when they graduate to the high school level,” she said.
Since 2005, the top Girls Team in the National Schools Chess Championships has been awarded the title of National Schoolgirls Chess Champion. Last year, Wolmer’s Girls was the highest ranking girls’ school in the National Championship and are therefore the reigning Schoolgirl Champions.
The PCJ, who are currently the sponsors of the National Schools Chess Championships, have thrown their support behind the Girls Championship, thus increasing their involvement in the sport through this critical demographic. After coming on board as title sponsors for the 2015 Championship, the PCJ recently renewed its commitment to the sport with a $450,000 sponsorship package for the 2016 competition.
“The PCJ is a proud supporter of the National Secondary Schools Chess Competition and we are particularly pleased to have played a pivotal role in the revival of Schoolgirls’ Chess,” said the PCJ’s Group General Manager, Mr. Winston Watson. “Chess is a sport that helps young people to develop academically and analytically and as a company whose core business is technical and scientific we want to see it grow and impact a large number of youngsters across the country.”
The tournament will be staged over four rounds at the PCJ’s Auditorium, with as many as ten teams expected to battle for supremacy. While Wolmer’s Girls are the defending champions, the favourite is Campion College. Strong challenges are expected from Mannings, Green Island and Excelsior.