Martyn Del Castilho, a second year Accounting major at Cave Hill Campus, has created history by becoming the first junior in over twenty years to win the Barbados National Chess Championships
Del Castilho turned back some stern challenges along the way to secure the senior national title with a crucial draw against fellow UWI-teammate, Shamel Howell, in his final round match.
The new champion had entered the final round of the tournament with a perfect 10 out of 10 score, a single point lead over closest rival, FIDE Master and former champion, Dr. Phillip Corbin.
In the make or break last round, Del Castilho blazed to an early positional advantage against Howell and quickly went into shut down mode which forced the draw and secured his title. Howell also finished well, tying for third place.
From the outset, the 2009 tournament was filled with intrigue and speculation and by the second round the leaders had dropped from sixth to fourth place.By round five it was clear that the race for the title would be between Martyn Del Castilho and the in-form Dr. Corbin and this set the stage for the much anticipated showdown between the two leaders in Round 7.
Fully aware that the title and his place in history hinged on this critical game, Del Castilho executed his game plan to perfection as he neutralised the highly tactical Corbin. He further developed his advantage and eventually secured victory, while also registering his best game of the tournament.
Del Castilho remained unbeaten for the next three rounds and in lifting the title, emerged as one of the most accomplished juniors in Barbados and the wider Caribbean.
“I came pretty close two years ago and I’m happy that I was able to win it this time. I’m looking forward to international competition at the 2010 Olympiad in Russia and also to defending my national title later next year,” said Del Castilho.
Over the past three years, Del Castilho was consistently among the top three contenders for the national senior title and recognised as a genuine threat by the top ranked players.
The former Lodge School student was selected for Barbados Olympiad Chess Teams which played in 2004 in Spain and 2008 in Germany, and also represented the country in several regional and hemispheric tournaments.
In junior competition, Del Castilho has won the prestigious Sagicor Open Junior Title in 2004, 2005 and 2006, joining Delisle Warner as the only two players to win it three times.
He was also an outstanding school-boy Board 1 player, leading The Lodge School to six successive overall titles in the United Insurance Inter- School Chess Championships between 2003 and 2008.