Barbados: In February this year, 13 year-old Chanon Reifer-Belle of Barbados was the recipient of a ‘National Sports Council Youth Award’ for her outstanding performances in Chess, but Chanon is more than just Chess, she is an extraordinary young lady in many ways.
Chanon’s journey in Chess started when she told her mum, Natasha Reifer-Belle, that she wanted to learn how to play the game and like the encouraging and supporting parent, Natasha downloaded an app on Chanon’s tablet and she (Chanon) started to learn the basic concepts of the game by herself.
Chanon was enthused by the game and Natasha contacted Corie Elcock, the chess coach at Charles F Broome Memorial Primary School which Chanon attended and got her started in the school’s Chess Club and from there, it was no turning back.
Elcock was very instrumental in Chanon’s development and love of Chess and it was not long after that Chanon started to play in Chess tournaments.
Playing for her school’s A team the next year, Chanon won all of her games in the Primary Inter-School Chess Championships in 2019 and she qualified for the 2020 CARIFTA Chess Championships, but never participated because of Covid.
When tournaments re-started in 2021, Chanon competed in the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Youth Chess Festival online and placed third.
At this time, Chanon wanted more, and she was focused on improving her performances. She sought a fresh approach from International Master (IM) Orlando Husbands and since then, she has significantly improved her level of play and understanding of the game, and as they say, the rest was history.
Chanon’s recent performances were outstanding and that was seen in the Under-14 Pan American Rapid Online in May 2022 when she placed 1st and that was followed by another first in the Under-14 Pan American Blitz Online Games in June 2022.
In her first overseas tournament at XXXII Pan American Youth in Montevideo, Uruguay in June last year, Chanon tied on 4 ½ points with 9th place finisher but finished 13th out of 19 players after the tie break.
At 12 years-old, Chanon was the youngest member to be selected for any Barbados Olympiad team when she competed in the 44th Chess Olympiad in Chennai, India in July, 2022.
At the end of the championships, she earned a conditional ‘Woman Candidate Master (WCM) title’ which requires her FIDE rating to reach 1800 to achieve it.
After returning from India, Chanon participated in the CAC Games in November, 2022 in Tegucicalpa, Honduras. She lost to the eventual winner early in the tournament and several more losses followed, but the determined and talented player fought to recover and tied on points with 5th place but placed 7th on the tie break out of 15 players.
Back home that month Chanon placed 1st in the Under 1400 rating section of the Michael Forde Memorial Championships and in January this year, she placed 2nd in the female section of online National Blitz Tournament.
This year Chanon won the Under-16 National Youth Championships, the Under-14 National Youth Championships and was 3rd in the Under-18 National Youth Championships.
In March, she played for Queen’s College victorious A-team in the ‘Secondary Interschool Chess Championships’ and won all of her games in that meet, before competing in the ‘XI IRT Hybrid Circuit of the Americas’ Tournament where she again tied on points for 1st place but ended 2nd after the tie break.
An amazing young lady, Chanon has excelled in almost everything she has touched in her young life. A former head girl at Charles F Broome Memorial Primary School, Chanon also participated in debating at school and scored a perfect 100% in Mathematics in her Common Entrance Exam.
She dances with ‘Dancin Africa’ Dance group and participated in numerous events such as, Nifca Gala, Carifesta, Oistins Fish Festival, Chinese New Year Festival and her dance group received Gold at NIFCA Finals in 2019.
Well organized and disciplined, Chanon who scored almost all A’s on her report cards since entering Queen’s College and in December last year, she was awarded the school’s “Delta’ Award for ‘dedication to studies, Excellent in effort, leadership, a team player and an A-Class attitude.
The talented and well-rounded student, tells us how she managed to stay on top of everything.