The Bahamas Chess Federation took a significant step forward by introducing a female-only section of the National Junior Chess Championship. The move was motivated by several objectives:
1. Attract and Encourage Female Participation: The tournament aimed to attract more female participants to the world of chess, traditionally dominated by male players.
2. Build a Pathway for Bahamian Females: The event sought to initiate a pathway for young Bahamian females in the world of chess, creating opportunities for growth and development.
3. Compliance with International Focus on Women in Chess: The Bahamas Chess Federation aligned itself with regional and international partners in their shared focus on promoting women's participation and achievements in chess.
The Bahamas Chess Federation firmly believes that providing Bahamian females with their own competitive stage will increase the number of female chess players and enhance their competitiveness in open categories. Moreover, it will contribute towards expanding the pool of female players available to represent the country in regional and international chess competitions.
The tournament saw the participation of twelve enthusiastic young girls, with some of them entering their very first chess competition. Several participants expressed that the addition of a female-only section, with a certified Female Arbiter, inspired them to ventured into competitive chess.
National Arbiter Angel Pride was honored to be the Arbiter of the first National Female Junior Chess Championship. It was meaningful to the young female chess players to see a female arbitering the tournament also demonstrating another pathway for females in chess. Angel is the only certified and active Female Arbiter in the Bahamas and one of few in the caribbean region.
Chika Pride emerged as a clear favorite in the tournament, possessing the distinction of being the only FIDE-rated player among the participants. Her experience and skills had been previously showcased as she represented the Bahamas in prestigious events such as the FIDE Online Chess Olympiad, the 2022 Chess Olympiad, and the 2023 CAC Youth Chess Festival.
Chika's remarkable journey in chess had already begun in the 2021 National Junior Championship, where she placed 4th overall, proving her ability to compete alongside male players. Over time, she honed her skills and recently made history by becoming the only female qualifier for the upcoming National Chess Championship scheduled for January 2024.
In the 2023 Bahamas National Junior Female Chess Championship, Chika displayed her dominance by checkmating each of her opponents in under 5 minutes. She spent much of the tournament observing open players, demonstrating her prowess in the game. Chika secured a perfect score of 5 wins and no losses, earning her the title as the first Bahamas Junior Female Chess Champion.
When asked about her choice to compete in the Female section rather than the Open Tournament, Chika shared, "It was a difficult decision deciding which section to play in. I entered both sections and only canceled my open registration on the morning of the tournament. When I saw that 11 other girls entered and showed up to play, I felt compelled to compete with them. I knew I wouldn't face much competition, but it was essential to support this girls-only tournament. I knew I could have won my age category and at least placed in the top 5 in the open tournament. Making history as the 1st Bahamas National Junior Female Champion was more appealing and meaningful. I still have several years to compete for the Open title and will win it in the near future."
In addition to Chika Pride's outstanding performance, Alaayah Johnson secured the second-place overall title, edging out Kacie Cooper, who took the third place. Both Alaayah and Kacie finished with a record of 3 wins, 1 draw, and 1 loss.
Furthermore, A’maris Mogregor was crowned the champion in the Under 8 age category, Milania Yallop triumphed in the Under 10 section, Kacie Cooper claimed victory in the Under 12 division, and Chika Pride added another feather to her cap by winning the Under 14 category.
The 2023 Bahamas National Junior Female Chess Championship marked a significant milestone in promoting female participation in chess and fostering the growth of young female talents in the Bahamas. With the success of the event and the emergence of Chika Pride as the first Female Chess Champion, the Bahamas Chess Federation is paving the way for a promising future in women's chess.