DEFENDING champions, Hilda Vukikomoala and Jacqui Masilomani, retained their titles in the Primary and Secondary School's Chess Championship at the Fiji Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee (FASANOC) boardroom in Suva yesterday.
Vukikomoala, a sixth former at Saint Josephs Secondary School, scored five points from six rounds to finish ahead of Keez Terubea.
Terubea and Amy Bale were tied on second place with four points each but the latter lost the tie breaker, settling for the third place. Young sensation, Jacqui Masilomani of Saint Anne continued her dominance in the primary school division after finishing ahead of other favourites Menash Fareed and Isha Raicker.
Fiji Chess Federation (FCF) treasurer and former national champion Manoj Kumar said they were impressed with the quality of competition displayed by the youngsters.
He said their participation in the Fiji International Open, which was held earlier this month, had improved their skill level.
He said almost 30 students participated in the day-long event, which has been running for the past 25 years. "They have gained a lot of experience by competing in the Fiji International Open. They are playing really well at this level," Kumar said.
"There has been an increase in the number of participants in the primary school division which is a good sign for the development of sport in the country."
Kumar said with Fiji hosting the 2013 Oceania Zonal Chess Championship, the young local players would have a chance to learn more at this regional event, which will also be the qualifiers for the world championship.
We will have participants from New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Palau competing at this Oceania Zonal Championship," Kumar said. "Tournaments like the Primary and Secondary Schools Championship is an ideal build-up for these young players."
Trophies and cash prizes were presented to the winners of this tournament, which was sponsored by the FCF president Doctor Virgilio de Asa.