Zarirovna, Amirali Emerge Unity Games Africa Closed Champions

After a successful pan-East African event in December 2015 where this author was called upon to organise the chess tournament, the Ismaili community hosted an even bigger sporting event for their sportsmen and women dubbed the Unity Games Africa this year. Held over the Easter weekend at Aga Khan Academy, Mombasa, the mega event attracted 700 participants from across the continent who competed in 19 sports including chess.

The chess event was played in two sections: Under 14 and Over 14.

Under 14

The Under 14 section saw 10 players from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania compete in a 5-round rapid tournament on Friday, 14th April. Due to scheduling constraints, the time control used was 15 minutes per player per game to ensure all rounds were completed during the afternoon.

Games underway in the Under 14 Section / Photo by Gideon Kirwa Chemnjor
Games underway in the Under 14 Section / Photo by Gideon Kirwa Chemnjor

Mombasa’s Furuzon Zarirovna led from the start after receiving a bye in Round 1 and beating 4 opponents in the remaining rounds to finish with 5 points. As no other player finished with 5 points too, she was declared winner.

Tournament leader Furuzon Zarirovna (right) eager to beat one more opponent / Photo by Gideon Kirwa Chemnjor
Tournament leader Furuzon Zarirovna (right) eager to beat one more opponent / Photo by Gideon Kirwa Chemnjor

Following Furuzon were Rayanna Natha (also from Mombasa) with 4 points and Mikail Walli from Dar es Salaam with 3 points.

Final Standings:

  1. Furuzon Zarirovna (Mombasa) – 5 pts
  2. Rayann Natha (Mombasa) – 4 pts
  3. Mikail Walli (Dar es Salaam) – 3 pts
  4. Ayman Karim (Mombasa) – 2.5 pts
  5. Fayaz Mansour (Mombasa) – 2 pts
  6. Sameer Jetha (Mombasa) – 2 pts
  7. Raina Adtani (Kampala) – 2 pts
  8. Zianna Alidina (Dar es Salaam) – 1.5 pts
  9. Aliahmed Lakhani (Mombasa) – 1 pt
  10. Azhaar Premji (Dar es Salaam) – 0 pts
Participants pose with Chief Arbiter Gideon Kirwa Chemnjor after completion of all rounds
Participants pose with Chief Arbiter Gideon Kirwa Chemnjor after completion of all rounds

Over 14

The Over 14 section saw 13 players from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique compete in a 4-round rapid tournament on Sunday, 16th April. The time control for this event was a longer 25 minutes per player per game but as the tournament had to be completed in an afternoon, the number of rounds was reduced to 4.

Players represented Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique / Photo by Gideon Kirwa Chemnjor
Players represented Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique / Photo by Gideon Kirwa Chemnjor
View of the playing hall / Photo by Gideon Kirwa Chemnjor
View of the playing hall / Photo by Gideon Kirwa Chemnjor

After 4 rounds, Munir Amirali emerged clear winner with 4 points having defeated Shamsuddin, Aly, Asifali and Rashid in Rounds 1 to 4 respectively. Following him in joint second place were: Rashid Sharif, Asifali Pattani and Rahimali Hemnani all with 3 points each.

The four Kenyan players managed positions 6, 8, 9 and 10 after a dominating display from the Mozambican contingent and one Tanzanian player effectively locked them out of the prize bracket.

Final Standings:

  1. Munir Amirali (Mozambique) – 4 pts
  2. Rashid Sharif (Tanzania) – 3 pts
  3. Asifali Pattani (Mozambique) – 3 pts
  4. Rahimali Hemnani (Mozambique) – 3 pts
  5. Nisha Chunara (Mozambique) – 2 pts
  6. Abror Alibekov (Kenya) – 2 pts
  7. Aly Jassani (Uganda) – 2 pts
  8. Sarfaraz Merali (Kenya) – 2 pts
  9. Ali Pirbhai (Kenya) – 2 pts
  10. Karim Rahemtulla (Kenya) – 2 pts
  11. Praful Moghal (Tanzania) – 1 pt
  12. Shamsuddin Panjwani (Tanzania) – 0 pts
  13. Sofia Chagani (Uganda) – 0 pts

The officiating team consisted of Farouk Khimji (Sports Coordinator, Aga Khan Community), Paras Gudka (Tournament Director) and Gideon Kirwa (Chief Arbiter).

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