David Cilia Vincenti is the new Malta chess champion. He last won the title 22 years ago in 2000.
Cilia Vincenti, who currently lives in New Zealand, made the very long trip to Malta twice to participate in the Candidates tournament and then qualify for the 87th Chess Championship. He also participated in last month’s Chess Olympiad in Chennai, India.
Last year’s winner Robert Zerafa and runner-up Colin Pace were firm favourites for the title. However, Zerafa found it difficult after a one-year hiatus from playing since he won the title last year.
By halfway, it was clear that the title would be contested by three players – Pace, Cilia Vincenti and Jake Darmanin (champion in 2020).
Darmanin had a good start collecting 2½ pts from the first 4 rounds. In the fifth round, he unexpectedly lost to Alberto Farah – who participated in his first championship. Darmanin recovered well to win the next four games.
Peter Sammut Briffa, a veteran and winner of the title in 1991, 2001 and 2002, had a good tournament. He was instrumental in the title race and beat Darmanin in the last round. He collected 4½ points.
The title was decided with the very last game to finish.
Entering the final round, three players Cilia Vincenti, Darmanin and Pace all had 6½ points.
Pace had played all his games while Cilia Vincenti was facing Zerafa and Darmanin was up against Sammut Briffa.
After four hours of play, Cilia Vincenti won his game. Darmanin who had an advantage in his game, overreached and lost the exchange.
After 4½ hours of play Darmanin resigned and took second place on tie-breaks which meant that he qualified to next year’s championship.
Final Classification: 7½ pts: Cilia Vincenti; 6½ pts: Darmanin, Pace; 4½ pts: Sammut Briffa; 3½ pts: Zerafa; 1½ pts: Farah.
Jamie Farrugia – Malta Ladies Chess Champion 2022
23-year old Jamie Farrugia, who hails from Birżebbuġa is the Malta Ladies chess champion. The tournament was organized as a double round-robin with each player playing each other twice.
Four players participated – Filipina Thornton, Milena Stagno and Hayley Thornton together with Farrugia.
Farrugia played some impressive chess, winning most games forcefully with checkmate. Such was her dominance that she won all first five games. She drew her final game against Filipina in a match which took nearly five hours.
Eleven-year-old Hayley Thornton, participated in her first championship. Having recently played in the Chess Olympiads in India, she is gaining experience by playing many games. She managed to achieve a draw against Filipina. Stagno, who is currently studying for her A-Levels, played well but lost games due to blunders which could have been avoided.
As her first tournament as Malta champion, Farrugia shall be representing Malta in the forthcoming first European Small Nations (ESNA) Women’s Chess Championship being held in Monaco in November.
Final Classification: 5½ pts: Farrugia; 3½ pts: F. Thornton; 2½ pts: Stagno; ½ pt: H. Thornton.
Conrad Thake – Malta Seniors Chess Champion 2022
Conrad Thake, who was 1988 National Champion, won the seniors championship.
In a round-robin format tournament, where all players met each other once, Thake won all his games bar a draw against George Caruana who ended in second place.
It was a two-horse race until the very last round where Thake beat Mario Psaila to surpass Caruana and take first place. Psaila started well until his defeat against John Richards in round 5.
Richards ended in third place while Psaila ended in fourth. Stephen Naudi Busuttil and Albert Mamo both won one game each.
Final Classification: 4½ pts: Thake; 4 pts: Caruana; 3 pts: Richards; 2½ pts: Psaila; 1pt: Busuttil Naudi, Mamo.