15 year old Segan and 17 year old Gabriela from Barbados

From afar you know where the women’s team from Barbados is playing this afternoon. Their dedication to their national colours is apparent in their hair and outfits. The bright yellow and blue stand out against the many grey’s and black’s that are being worn this Olympiad. And while we chat to the girls about chess it is clear that their personality matches their bright outfits!

The Women's team from Barbados
The Women’s team from Barbados

Barbados is nested among the Caribbean islands.  It is 34 kilometres in length and up to 23 km in width, covering an area of 432 km2. As a popular holiday destination and combining its English, African and West Indian roots, Barbados has a very own distinctive identity.

map barbados

Gabriela with a rating of 1312 is currently the 4th ranked female player in Barbados and Segan with a rating of 1226 is following close behind on the 8th place.

Chesslife: How old were you when you started playing chess?

Gabriela: I was 8 when I started at a chess camp. My 2 older brothers wanted to go and already knew how to play. My mum decided to send me along as well.

Segan: I was 10 when my mother taught me how to play chess.

17 year old Gabriela Cumberbatch
17 year old Gabriela Cumberbatch

Chesslife: What is your favourite chess book?

Gabriela: I don’t really have a favourite one.

Segan: Mine is the one my mum bought me ‘How to reassess your chess’ by IM Silman.


Chesslife: How much chess do you study per week?

Gabriela: Around 1 or 2 hours per day. When I practise online I use chesscube.com

Segan: I study around 1 hour per day, but when a tournament is coming up I may increase this to 3-4 hours per day. When I play online I use chess.com or playchess.com


Chesslife: Is this your first Olympiad and what was your first International Tournament?

Gabriela: This is indeed my first Olympiad and my first international tournament was in 2012 in Trinidad, called CARIFTA.

Segan: I played the same tournament, but in 2015.


Chesslife: Who is your favourite player?

Both girls reply in unison ‘Magnus Carlsen!’


Chesslife: What is the junior chess league like in Barbados?

There are not many juniors playing in Barbados. Chess is not a very popular sport and not advertised very well. There are also many more boys than girls.

Chesslife: Do you mind playing boys all the time?

Gabriela: No not at all, it allows me to proof that I can beat the boys

Segan: I don’t mind either, in fact, I prefer playing against boys.


Chesslife: What has chess taught you?

Gabriela: If you want something, you need to put the effort in.

Segan: It has shown me to be dedicated in order to improve. It helps with my school work and focus.

15 year old Segan Sandiford
15 year old Segan Sandiford

Chesslife: How would you describe your style of play?

Gabriela: I prefer playing positional and like playing the Giuoco Piano. I sometimes play tactical as well. With black I am currently trying new things and have not really got a set repertoire yet.

The Literal translation for Giuoco Piano is translated ‘quiet game’ and begins with the moves 1.e4 e5  2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5

Segan: I definitely enjoy playing positional and play the Scottish with white. I have not developed a style yet with black, but am certainly considering the Caro-Kann as I find the Sicilian far too aggressive.


Chesslife: What was your most memorable game?

Gabriela: That would have been at the subzonal this year in Barbados.

Segan: That was a game against Justin Parsons a 1400 rated player, while I was still unrated. Unfortunately, I do not have the PGN for that.

Click on the board below to find a game from Segan at the CARIFTA tournament in 2015

board 1

Chesslife: What are your goals for the future?

Gabriela: To someday become a world champion.

Segan: To become a titled player and to return to another Olympiad.

Click on the board below to review the game from Gabriela against Edit Machlick from Norway in the Olympiad

board 1


Chesslife: What advice would you give to Australian Junior Chess Players?

Gabriela: Work Hard! You may have to wait a very long time to see results, they will come. Chess will also provide great opportunities.

Segan: It takes time to grow as a chess player. Make sure the big people notice you and hope for the best.

Click on the board below to find an analysis of a game by Segan against Myra Ollet from Guam during this Olympiad.

board 1


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