Just a few weeks ago, the Zambian National Championship held and International Master Andrew Kayonde successfully defended the title he has held for the past four (4) years back to back, yet again. And a title he now holds for a record six (6) times. On his way to the championship glory, Kayonde defeated Prince Daniel Mulenga in the first round of the tournament in an interesting game that started out as a pirc defence opening, but ended in nineteen (19) moves, in favor of the champ.
Round two kicked off with Kayonde’s match against his arch rival, International Master Richmond Phiri, with whom he had a nutcracker of a game. The game was attack all the way (more to the tune of “The Lev”), with Phiri castling to the queenside early, seeking the white king’s head and showing intent of attacking until Kayonde’s king falls. But it was going to be the other way round, as Kayonde defended resolutely and inflicted defeat on his compatriot.
Another cracker was to come in round three against International Master Gillian Bwalya, popularly known as ‘Captain Charlie’. Kayonde had the black pieces against “The Captain” and “AK 47”, as Kayonde is fondly called by his followers, made no mistake against the International Master whom he stoutly defeated using his King’s Indian Defense (KID) weapon of mass destruction! A statement as to how not to attack against the KID was made on the day as the Zambian Champion played solidly in the face of the opposing attack, which seemed enormous, but not to a player who has been there and done that. The maneuvering of the knights and the bishops were just brilliantly executed, such that most people would have wondered how the position came to be as such.
After facing two (2) of the strongest Zambian international masters at the event and coming out victorious, Kayonde then faced the upcoming Zambian star Fide Master (FM) Douglas Munenga, who won the last qualifier before this stage, and they played a quick draw, which both players were satisfied with, going forward. But Kayonde was to settle for an even quicker draw with Zambian top gun IM Kelvin Chumfwa, who would have been biting his fingers (thinking what could have been, if he had just fought more in the game), after missing out on the qualification to the 2018 Chess Olympiad, as he lost it to Prince Daniel Mulenga in the last round of the tournament (in a fight for your life round).
Kayonde then had to settle for a third successive draw, but a hard fought one against Candidate Master (CM) Musatwe Simutowe, brother to the first Southern African Grandmaster Amon Simutowe. Musatwe has been playing some quality chess in the Southern African tournaments recently, example of which are the Kasparov Chess Foundation organised tournaments in Lesotho, Swaziland and South Africa. After three (3) successive draws in the last three (3) rounds, round seven (7) presented Kayonde with Daka Justin, the highly improved young player, who has showed great promise in tournaments in and around Zambia, but Kayonde duly achieved victory with brilliant middlegame play after a very unconventional opening played by both, only to lose the penultimate round against Kaulule Siame Kela in round 8, a game that gave Kaulule the necessary boost to fight for a qualification spot for the Olympiad during the final round against IM Phiri Richmond (which he won to join the players representing Zambia at the 2018 World Chess Olympiad at Georgia). In the final round of the tournament, Kayonde settled for a draw against Kabwe Timothy, to retain the championship title, seeing that Musatwe, who was closest to him had played to draw in his game against FM Munenga Douglas.
All in all, Kayonde had four (4) wins, four (4) draws and a loss, to finish with a total of six (6) points and retain the crown that is hugely coveted in Zambia. Finishing in second (2nd) position was CM Musatwe Simutowe, who was only half a point behind the Kayonde with five and a half (5.5) points. FM Douglas Munenga finished joint third (3rd) with five (5) points and he was the only player in the whole tournament who did not lose a single game. The cool Douglas made the Olympiad team and deservedly so, considering his performance at the tournament.
Mulenga Prince Daniel, who was called up at the last minute, made a finished fourth (4th) on the table, but he was joint third (3rd) with FM Munenga with five (5) points. The grateful player went onto his Facebook channel to thank the Lord and his fans for the support and for finally making it into the National team for the first time. He made it clear on the post that this was not a mean achievement and it was through God’s grace and hard work that he made it through. It was after a long struggle and his story is a lesson to all chess players who have been failing to make it to the top, that there is still hope for them.
The Olympiad selection tournament for the men was characterized by the absence of IM Daniel Jere and IM Chitumbo Mwali who had other commitments. Three (3) International Masters fell on the way side and these were IM Kelvin Chumfwa (4.5/9 points), IM Richmond Phiri (3.5/9 points) and IM Bwalya Gillian (3/9 points) who were rooted to the bottom of the table in the men’s section, showing that there is great improvement in the game of chess in Zambia. This alone speak volumes in terms of what really transpired in the final phase of the Olympiad Qualifiers for the Zambian players representing the nation in Batumi, Georgia. This was a great opportunity for the new crop of players to get a feel of what international chess is all about, especially playing against the Super Grandmasters.
Final Ranking after 9 Rounds
|3||4||FM||Munenga Douglas D||ZAM||2286||5,0||1,5||1||22,50|
|4||10||Mulenga Prince Daniel||ZAM||2233||5,0||1,0||3||21,25|
|5||8||Kaulule Siame Kela||ZAM||2155||5,0||0,5||3||22,00|