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Caye Caulker Grand Prix Qualifier

Caye Caulker Grand Prix Qualifier Showcases Exciting Chess Battles

Caye Caulker
Hard Crafted Awards for the tournament

On June 8th, 2023, the Caye Caulker Village Council Building became the epicenter of thrilling chess matches as the 4th event in the Belize Chess Grand Prix, the Caye Caulker Qualifier took place. This highly anticipated tournament brought together 14 players from across the country, including participants from Cayo, Belize, and Stann Creek. Notably, it marked the first appearance of Alfred Awe, the Belize #1 ranked player from Stann Creek. Alongside Awe, other prominent players like Luis Mendez Jr, ranked 5th, and home favorite Caye Caulker's Maximilliano Novelo, ranked 7th, were eager to showcase their skills.

Only female player Allie Ifield playing in her first tournament
Only female player Allie Ifield playing in her first tournament

The tournament kicked off with a gripping first round match between Caye Caulker's own Jorge Avella and Reyhan Rosado Rank 18. Despite being a newcomer to the tournament scene, Avella displayed exceptional composure and skill, ultimately triumphing over Rosado in a remarkable game.


Caye Caulker TMNT
Players concentrating on their games

Round 2 featured the much-anticipated clash between Alfred Awe and Maximilliano Novelo. Novelo, in his first over-the-board encounter with the top-ranked player, fearlessly embraced complications, engaging in an aggressive and tactical battle. The game unfolded with an English Opening, and Novelo capitalized on Awe's mistake on Move 10, gaining a significant advantage. Novelo even sacrificed a rook to launch an attack against Awe's king, but unfortunately mistimed the move, allowing Awe to seize the upper hand. Although Novelo had one final chance for counterplay on Move 24, he missed it, leading to Awe's decisive victory.


Alfred Awe vs Maximilliano Novelo
Alfred Awe vs Maximilliano Novelo

Round 3 showcased another intense showdown, this time between Alfred Awe and Luis Mendez Jr. Mendez, determined to secure a qualification spot for the grand finale after unsuccessful attempts in two previous events, faced Awe in a game that started quietly.

Surprisingly the Belize #1 carelessly relinquished a pawn in a surprising turn of events on move 16, thereby granting Mendez a notable early advantage. Despite this setback, Awe skillfully restored equilibrium during the middle stage of the game on move 26. Unfortunately, a momentary lapse in judgment on move 28 led to yet another atypical blunder, ultimately bestowing Mendez with a decisive upper hand.

Luis Mendez vs Alfred Awe
Luis Mendez vs Alfred Awe

In the endgame phase, Awe displayed unwavering determination, once again maneuvering into a position offering some drawing prospects. However, an untimely final mistake sealed his fate. Consequently, Mendez emerged as the undeniable victor after playing a remarkable game, cementing his position as the frontrunner of the tournament!


Round 3 also witnessed yet another upset, as Maximilliano Novelo faced Pedro De Armas. Novelo had a winning position but, unfortunately, missed a checkmate in one move, leading to his defeat against De Armas.


Maximilliano Novelo vs Pedro de Armas
Maximilliano Novelo vs Pedro de Armas

In Round 4 Luis Mendez faced off against Pedro de Armas and won a comfortable game after Pedro blundered a minor piece. With this Mendez going into the final round as the tournament leader and only needs a draw to secure first place.


The final and decisive clash occurred in Round 5, pitting Luis Mendez against Maximilliano Novelo. A win for Mendez would secure his first-place finish in the tournament, while Novelo fought to claim third place. Despite Novelo's aggressive play, Mendez remained unfazed and ultimately triumphed, securing his qualification for the grand finale.


Luis Mendez vs Maximilliano Novelo
Luis Mendez vs Maximilliano Novelo

The final standings of the Caye Caulker Grand Prix Qualifier were as follows: Luis Mendez secured 1st place, Alfred Awe claimed 2nd place, and Pedro de Armas finished in 3rd place. These skilled players demonstrated exceptional talent and resilience throughout the tournament. Jorge Avella from Caye Caulker had a great event and came in 4th.


Caye Caulker Qualifier
L to R: Pedro De Armas, Luis Mendez, Max Novelo , Alfred Awe

Final Standings in the Open Section:

1st Place: Luis Mendez Jr - 160pts

2nd Place: Alfred Awe - 130 pts

3rd Place: Pedro De Armas -110 pts



Open Section
Open Section Final Standings

In the U15 Section, Gregory McGibney, the tournament favorite, dominated his section, securing a well-deserved place in the grand finale. Mattia Mancuso from Caye Caulker secured second place, while Monica Mancuso, also from Caye Caulker, achieved a commendable third-place finish.


Final Standings in the Open Section:

1st Place: Gregory McGibney - 160pts

2nd Place: Mattia Mancuso - 130 pts

3rd Place: Monica Mancuso -110 pts

Caye Caulker Qualifier
L to R: Gregory, Max, Mattia, Monica

u15 Section
U15 Section Final Standings

The success of the Caye Caulker Grand Prix Qualifier would not have been possible without the generous support of the Caye Caulker Village Council, who provided the venue for the event. Additionally, special thanks go to Maximilliano Novelo and Olivia Dacosta from Sunrise Scuba for hosting the tournament and offering valuable prizes to the participants. Their commitment to promoting chess and nurturing the talent of young players is truly commendable.


We would also like to thank our tournament director for the event Michael Campos who made the trip from Orange Walk to help with the event.


The Caye Caulker Grand Prix Qualifier was an unforgettable event that showcased the immense skill and passion of Belizean chess players. With the talented victors securing their places in the grand finale, chess enthusiasts eagerly anticipate the thrilling battles that lie ahead.

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