Last Monday, the Trinidad and Tobago Chess Association (TTCA) hosted the Carrera Island Prison Chess Tournament 2017.

The setting was the Carrera Island Prison Facility, a picturesque location with a sparkling view of the sea and the mainland to the Southeast and a splendid sampling of the inmates’ art gracing the walls.

There were twelve participants: Hassan H, Kevin B, Rodney D, Dhanraj S, Lyndon J, Phillip C, Curtis M, Alladin M, Steve M, Lyndon R, Otto L, and Thomas A.

Full names cannot be disclosed for security reasons.

The tournament was a six round rapid play Swiss. The competition was keen and the players were disciplined; with the participants enjoying an introduction to tournament rules, and a bit of ‘picong’.

Emerging victorious after a nail-biting three-game blitz play-off was Rodney D, who had finished joint top of the table with Lyndon J, both on five points each.

There was a three-way tie for third with Curtis M, Alladin M, and Kevin B sharing that honor, all on four points.

All the participants were awarded medals, and Hassan H received a special prize for the fastest checkmate of the tournament.

The event was spearheaded by members of the prisons service.

The tournament directors were TTCA second vice president, Daryl Davis and president of Southern Chess Club, Keevin James.

This is the second prison tournament for 2017 promoted by the TTCA, having already held a competition featuring 80 players at the Maximum Security Prison in March.

On both occasions, the inmates expressed sincere gratitude for the intervention and have requested tournaments be held on a more regular basis. Some of the prisoners were even interested in acquiring their own chess sets.

The response has been so overwhelming, the TTCA, in collaboration with the Trinidad Tobago Prison Service, is now seeking to establish a chess training program within the prisons system.

The prison outreach is a collaboration between the TTCA and the TTOC, whose mandates both focus on inclusivity of all citizens. TTCA President Sonja Johnson, was elated by the level of interest being exhibited by the inmates saying, “The intention is that together we will formulate a road map for the sustainability of the chess programme as we believe it will not just benefit the inmates but also enhance the prison environment by providing an outlet for healthy and meaningful engagement of the inmates with their peers.”