Candidate Master Manoj Kumar successfully defended his title at the 36th FMF Fiji National Chess Championship in Suva on Sunday.
The dramatic grand final saw Kumar defeat arch-rival Candidate Master Calvin Prasad 1.5-0.5 after two rapid games.
“It was a very tense final, and I was lucky my opponent made a decisive mistake in the second game,” said Kumar.
“It was a very exhausting tournament because of the tough competition from all players, but I am happy to come out on top.”
Kumar and Prasad are Fiji’s highest rated players and have dominated the national championships for many years, being the only players to claim the prestigious title over the past 14 years.
The annual tournament saw players from Suva, Nausori, Nadi, Lautoka, Labasa, and Rakiraki converge at Suva’s Grand Pacific Hotel for the qualification rounds.
Eight players qualified for the finals after a 5-round Swiss tournament on Saturday.
The third-place play-off between Ronald Terubea and Rajiv Raj was tied 2-2 after two rapid and two blitz games. An “Armageddon” tie-breaker was played, won by Terubea.
Tianata Terubea defeated Noel Adricula for the 5th place, while Avinesh Nadan, who replaced John Caldeira in the finals, was 7th after beating William Waqavakatoga.
17-year-old newcomer Joshua Rewin was crowned the Fiji National Junior Champion on Saturday.
The eight finalists form the core of the Fiji National Training squad for the Chess Olympiad in Georgia next year.
FCF Acting President, Kiran Khatri was pleased with the intense competition.
“The new tournament format was appreciated by all players and ensured only the strongest players played-off for the main title.”
Khatri also thanked the sponsor, FMF Foods Limited.
“This is the fourth year for FMF’s sponsorship, and we look forward to continuing the successful partnership for many more years to come.”
The 36th FMF Fiji National Championship was a FIDE-rated tournament.