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Cayo Grand Prix Chess Tournament 2023 - Surprises and Triumphs

Updated: Jun 14, 2023

CAYO Grand Prix Chess Tournament 2023: A Showcase of Surprises and Triumphs

Cayo Grand Prix Belize Chess
Players getting ready for their game

The CAYO Grand Prix Chess Tournament 2023, the second event in the Belize Chess National Grand Prix, took place in the beautiful town of Benque Viejo Del Carmen at John Paul II Junior College on Saturday, 10th June 2023. With a total of 18 players from Orange Walk, Belize, and Cayo, the tournament was a thrilling display of strategic prowess and unexpected outcomes. Under the guidance of Tournament Directors Steve Flowers, the event brought together seasoned players and rising talents for an unforgettable competition.

The open section and the U-15 sections were combined due to a shortage of U-15 players. This decision, although unfortunate, led to exciting matchups and a chance for young talents to test their skills against more experienced opponents.

The BCF has had internal discussions regarding this situation and has made necessary format adjustments to ensure that all proceeding tournaments will feature an U-15 section.

The tournament began with an unexpected upset in Round 2 when 61-year-old Greg Vitko from Cayo, participating in his first event with the Belize Chess Federation (BCF), defeated Kenneth Perez, the previous grand prix runner-up and currently ranked 13th on the BCF leaderboards. Vitko's victory immediately solidified his position as a strong contender, surprising both his opponents and spectators.

Greg Vitko vs Kenneth Perez
Greg Vitko vs Kenneth Perez

Round 3 continued to shake up the competition as Roger Canto, who is also participating in his first event with the Belize Chess Federation (BCF), secured another upset win against Kenneth Perez. This unexpected turn of events dashed Perez's hopes of securing a tournament placing and highlighted the fierce competition for tops spots in Belize Chess.

In Round 4, the current rank 3 player of the BCF leaderboards and tournament favorite, Luis Mendez Jr., faced off against the resilient Greg Vitko. After a hard-fought battle, it was Vitko who emerged victorious, taking the tournament lead with Roger Canto heading into the final round! Additionally, 12-year-old Omar De Shield impressed with his third consecutive win, putting him in contention for third place alongside Mendez and Zeyad Godoy.

Belize Chess
Start of the round

The highly anticipated Round 5 featured a clash between U-18's top-ranked player and previous U15 Grand Prix Winner, Zeyad Godoy, and the U15 fourth-ranked Omar De Shield. The outcome of this match would determine the winners of the U-15 section. Omar De Shield emerged triumphant, guaranteeing himself a playoff spot for overall tournament second place and securing first place in the U-15 section.

In the final round, both undefeated players, Greg Vitko and Roger Canto, faced off to determine the tournament champion and secure a spot in the National Grand Finale. In a fiercely competitive match, it was Vitko who emerged victorious, crowned as the CAYO Grand Prix Chess Tournament 2023 champion.

Following the intense five rounds, Luis Mendez Jr., Roger Canto, and the talented 12-year-old Omar De Shield found themselves tied for second place. A round-robin playoff was conducted to determine the final rankings. Roger Canto displayed exceptional skill, winning both his games against Mendez and De Shield, securing the coveted second-place finish.

In an astonishing tiebreaker, the Belize Rank 3 player, Luis Mendez Jr. was in a completely winning position vs Omar however with only 4 seconds left on his clock, succumbed to the talented 12-year-old Omar De Shield who won on time. This thrilling conclusion highlighted the remarkable potential and tenacity of young chess prodigies in Belize.

Final moments of the game between 12-year-old Omar De Shield vs Luis Mendez Jr.

The final tournament results were as follows:

Overall Tournament Winners:

1st Place: Greg Vitko (CY)

2nd Place: Roger Canto (CY)

3rd Place: Omar De Shield (CY)

4th Place: Luis Mendez Jr. (CY)

Open Section Winners:

1st Place: Greg Vitko (CY), 160 pts

2nd Place: Roger Canto (CY), 120 pts

3rd Place: Luis Mendez Jr. (CY), 120 pts

Greg Vitko's exceptional performance not only earned him the championship title but also 160 championship points, securing his automatic qualification for the Belize National Chess Championship Grand Finals. His impressive achievement at the age of 61 serves as an inspiration to chess enthusiasts in Belize of all ages.

Greg Vitko
Tournament winner Greg Vitko notating the moves during his game

Roger Canto and Luis Mendez both scored 4 points and were awarded 120 Championship Points, solidifying their positions as top contenders in the Open Section.

U-15 Section Winners:

1st Place: Omar De Shield (CY), 160 pts

2nd Place: Zeyad Godoy (OW), 130 pts

3rd Place: Gregory McGibney (CY), 110 pts

In the U-15 section, Omar De Shield's remarkable performance earned him 160 championship points, securing his qualification for the U15 Grand Finals. Zeyad Godoy, finishing in second place, garnered 130 championship points, while Gregory McGibney's impressive display secured him third place and 110 championship points.

The organizers extend their heartfelt gratitude to John Paul II Junior College for providing the venue for the tournament. Additionally, special thanks go to BCF President Steve Flowers for his invaluable contributions, including the provision of chess sets and taking care of the event as the Tournament Director.

Belize Chess Standings
Final Standings


Belize Chess Grand Prix

In the open section, Michael Campos and Greg Vitko have confirmed their spot for the Grand Finals. Kenneth Perez and Luis Mendez Jr. currently hold a qualification spot (1st and 2nd in Championship Points) with Steve Flowers and Roger Canto close behind.

Grand Prix Standings
Grand Prix Standings - OPEN Section

In the U15 Section, Zeyad Godoy and Omar De Shield are locked in for the u15 Grand Finals. Nayven Quan currently leads in Championship points for a qualification spot.

Grand Prix Standings - U15 Section
Grand Prix Standings - U15 Section

To view current information about the Belize Chess Grand Prix visit the following page: Belize Chess Grand Prix | BCF

We encourage everyone to join us in the 3rd event in the Belize Chess Grand Prix, the Belize City Open. Read more and register using the following link: Belize City Swiss 2023 - Belize Grand Prix | BCF (

The CAYO Grand Prix Chess Tournament 2023 showcased the immense talent and determination of the participants. It served as a platform for both seasoned players and rising stars to exhibit their skills. As the Belize Chess National Grand Prix continues to unfold, anticipation builds for the next event, where the chess community will witness new battles and witness the growth of these remarkable players.

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