SAEED Ali and his younger sister, Woman Candidate Master (WCM) Sheriffa Ali, finished first and third respectively when the curtains came down on the Sasha Cells National Junior Chess Championships last Sunday at the Ocean Spray International Hotel in Georgetown. Victory was almost assured for the 19-year-old when he defeated his 17-year-old sister on Saturday morning. That game proved to be the decider, given that it was a three-way battle for the title between the siblings and eventual second place finisher Roberto Neto.Saeed then easily sealed the top position on Sunday with victories over Ghansham Allijohn and Jaden Taylor, for 6 ½ points in seven games. Neto, who drew with both siblings, finished with six points, while Sheriffa ended with five points. Aravinda Singh placed fourth, with four points.The eight best juniors in the country competed.The seven-round championships could have gone in a different direction if Sheriffa, who was one of the standout Guyanese players in Azerbaijan at the 42nd Chess Olympiad in September, had defeated her older brother. The siblings, who have been playing chess since 2007, battled for over an hour, with the eventual winner playing white and opening with Queen’s Gambit.In the late stages of the middle game, Saeed caught his younger sister with a fork (a move which traps two pieces at once) to take her rook with his knight in a play which sealed his fortune.Although the siblings live together, they did not train with each other before or during the championships. They opted instead for online games.“Neto and Sherry proved to be the most challenging players,” Saeed later confirmed. “I’ve been reading a lot more, and my chess knowledge has improved.”Saeed’s previous best finish was first place in the 2011 National Schools Chess Championships, completed while he was a student of the Richard Ishmael Secondary.