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FM Drayton, MTV News Update's Jessica Callender Win National Qualifiers

FIDE Master Anthony Drayton and MTV News Update's Sports Journalist Jessica Callender have won the National Open and Women’s Qualifiers respectively after four days of intense rivalry at the Guyana National Stadium, Providence.

The top 18 players after four-days of intense rivalry in the Guyana Chess Federation’s National Qualifiers will now advance to the National Championship, beginning Saturday May 21.

The Open and Women’s Qualifying tournaments ran concurrently over the past two weekends.

Open Qualifier

FM Anthony Drayton played undefeated to storm to victory in the Open section of the tournament.

Drayton, a former National Champion himself, will now go on to challenge Candidate Master Taffin Khan for the 2022 National Championship title.

The other eight players in contention are; Candidate Master Wendell Meusa (7 points), Roberto Neto (5 points), Loris Nathoo (4.5 points), Frankie Farley (4.5 points), Ethan Lee (4 points), Rashad Hussain (4 points), Justino De Silva (4 points) and Rai Sharma (4 points) who finished 2nd to 9th place respectively.

Roberto Neto

Third place finisher Roberto Neto played against sixth place finisher Ethan Lee in round 7 of the tournament. What began as a solid opening led to a four-hour struggle for dominance.

Time had dragged on, and both Neto and Lee's time had elapsed, leaving both of them to play on the 30 second increment.

Inaccuracies from both sides began to flow, but Lee managed to recapture some of his lost pawns, draining Neto's advantage and allowing Lee's extra piece to show its strength.

The players agreed to a draw in the end, letting Lee escape from a position that was dead lost.

Women’s Qualifier

Jessica Callender finished in first place to win the Women’s National Qualifiers with 7 points after eight rounds.

She finished just ahead of Pooja Lam who also managed to earn 7 points but ranked below Callender due to a direct encounter tie break.

Anaya Lall vs Adia Alphonso

The other female players qualified for Nationals are Anaya Lall (6 points), Adia Alphonso (5 points), Nellisha Johnson (5 points), Maliha Rajkumar (4 points), Waveney Johnson (4 points), Angel Rahim (4 points) and Elizabeth McRae who took the final qualifying spot with 3 points.

These girls will challenge reigning Women’s Champion 18-year-old Sasha Shariff as she fights to retain her title.

Callender’s only loss came in Round 5 against fourth place finisher Nellisha Johnson.

In round 5, Johnson had the white pieces against Tournament Champion Jessica Callender. Both players began and almost immediately led into an interesting position. Tiny inaccuracies by Callender led to an excellent position for Johnson right out of the opening with a devastating attack. Callender defended well and avoided checkmate, but the damage was already done.

The game was converted to a win gracefully, as Callender lost her last piece preventing the passed pawn from promoting. The game ended in checkmate and as an excellent victory over the tournament champion for Nellisha Johnson.


The Open and Women’s National Championships will be held at the same time in the same venue. The Nationals are played in a round-robin format.

Players will now vie for the coveted top positions paving the way for team selection for the 44th Chess Olympiad in Chennai, India in July/August of this year.


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