Alongside the Zambian National Championship, the National Women’s Championship Finals held in Zambia just a few weeks ago and all eyes were on Woman Fide Master (WFM) Lorita Mwango, who was a two (2) time champion of the Zambian title, and WCM Mbatha Constance, who was the defending champion of the championship. The full list of ladies who qualified for the final phase comprised of:
|3||WCM||Hamoonga Linda Banti||8700648||ZAM||1737|
|4||WCM||Lubuuto Bwalya Mulwale||8706964||ZAM||1651|
Expectations were high for the newly married, back to back ladies champion (2015 and 2016) and she duly delivered as she started off the first round with a win over lowly rated Chilufya Phiri. While there was no surprise in the first round results, as all the higher rated ladies picked up wins over the lower rated players, the only draw of the round came from Banda Maria’s game against Simenda Daisy.
|Round 1 on 2018/03/09|
|1||1||1956||WFM||Mwango Lorita||1 – 0||Chilufya Phiri||1296||10|
|2||2||1777||WCM||Mbatha Constance||1 – 0||Nshikokola Precious||1322||9|
|3||3||1737||WCM||Hamoonga Linda Banti||1 – 0||Mututubanya Portiah||1371||8|
|4||4||1651||WCM||Lubuuto Bwalya Mulwale||1 – 0||Mwale Naomi||1476||7|
|5||5||1543||Banda Maria||½ – ½||Simenda Daisy||1514||6|
Round two (2) had some surprise results as the lower rated players started getting comfortable and picked up very important wins against their opponents, and even Lorita was unable to convert against Woman Candidate Master (WCM) Mbatha Constance, who held her own to ensure that her status as Zambia’s number two (2) ladies player. The biggest winners of the round though, were ELO 1296 rated Chilufya Phiri and ELO 1371 rated Mututubanya Portiah who both picked up wins against ELO 1514 rated Simenda Daisy and ELO 1651 rated Lubuuto Bwalya Mulwale respectively.
|Round 2 on 2018/03/09|
|1||10||1296||Chilufya Phiri||1 – 0||Simenda Daisy||1514||6|
|2||7||1476||Mwale Naomi||0 – 1||Banda Maria||1543||5|
|3||8||1371||Mututubanya Portiah||1 – 0||WCM||Lubuuto Bwalya Mulwale||1651||4|
|4||9||1322||Nshikokola Precious||0 – 1||WCM||Hamoonga Linda Banti||1737||3|
|5||1||1956||WFM||Mwango Lorita||½ – ½||WCM||Mbatha Constance||1777||2|
And round three (3) saw Chilufya stun Constance, forcing the WCM to a draw, while Lorita could not pass through WCM Hamoonga Linda Banti (who was leading with two 2/2 points), but had to settle for yet another draw. Banda Maria was also held to a draw by Mututubanya Portiah, but Lubuuto Bwalya Mulwale and Simenda Daisy both bounced back from the previous round’s defeat and gave good respect to their opponents to drive home the victory on their various boards.
|Round 3 on 2018/03/09|
|1||2||1777||WCM||Mbatha Constance||½ – ½||Chilufya Phiri||1296||10|
|2||3||1737||WCM||Hamoonga Linda Banti||½ – ½||WFM||Mwango Lorita||1956||1|
|3||4||1651||WCM||Lubuuto Bwalya Mulwale||1 – 0||Nshikokola Precious||1322||9|
|4||5||1543||Banda Maria||½ – ½||Mututubanya Portiah||1371||8|
|5||6||1514||Simenda Daisy||1 – 0||Mwale Naomi||1476||7|
Round four (4) was a bigger fight for the ladies and even though the higher rated players had the black side of the board (Except for Lorita), they ensured that they got the job done and defeated their opponents in a keenly contested battle of the mind. Lorita ensured she picked up a very important victory against WCM Lubuuto Bwalya Mulwale (who is about 300 ELOs below the WFM), which saw her join Hamoonga Linda Banti at the top of the standings with 3/4 points. And Naomi got her first victory of the tournament against Chilufya.
|Round 4 on 2018/03/10|
|1||10||1296||Chilufya Phiri||0 – 1||Mwale Naomi||1476||7|
|2||8||1371||Mututubanya Portiah||0 – 1||Simenda Daisy||1514||6|
|3||9||1322||Nshikokola Precious||0 – 1||Banda Maria||1543||5|
|4||1||1956||WFM||Mwango Lorita||1 – 0||WCM||Lubuuto Bwalya Mulwale||1651||4|
|5||2||1777||WCM||Mbatha Constance||½ – ½||WCM||Hamoonga Linda Banti||1737||3|
Getting into the fifth (5th) round, the top three (3) players were not showing any sign of slowing down, as they picked up very important victories in the round, and the only victory for the lower rated was Portiah’s victory over Naomi. Linda had to keep winning to put the pressure on Lorita and vice versa (as they now both stood at 4/5 points after the fifth round victories), considering the fact that they are not just fighting for qualification into the Olympiad team but also the title of Zambia’s Women Champion.
|Round 5 on 2018/03/10|
|1||3||1737||WCM||Hamoonga Linda Banti||1 – 0||Chilufya Phiri||1296||10|
|2||4||1651||WCM||Lubuuto Bwalya Mulwale||0 – 1||WCM||Mbatha Constance||1777||2|
|3||5||1543||Banda Maria||0 – 1||WFM||Mwango Lorita||1956||1|
|4||6||1514||Simenda Daisy||1 – 0||Nshikokola Precious||1322||9|
|5||7||1476||Mwale Naomi||0 – 1||Mututubanya Portiah||1371||8|
Round six (6) was billed to be full of fireworks, and the ladies did not disappoint, as Lubuuto held Linda to a fighting draw, Lorita took the top spot by defeating Daisy in brilliant fashion (to sit on 5/6), while Constance joined Lubuuto in second (2nd) place with 4.5/6 points. At this point, Lorita knew she could not stop winning, as there are now two (2) ladies lurking behind her and waiting for her to slip up, so that they can claim the crown.
|Round 6 on 2018/03/10|
|1||10||1296||Chilufya Phiri||0 – 1||Mututubanya Portiah||1371||8|
|2||9||1322||Nshikokola Precious||1 – 0||Mwale Naomi||1476||7|
|3||1||1956||WFM||Mwango Lorita||1 – 0||Simenda Daisy||1514||6|
|4||2||1777||WCM||Mbatha Constance||1 – 0||Banda Maria||1543||5|
|5||3||1737||WCM||Hamoonga Linda Banti||½ – ½||WCM||Lubuuto Bwalya Mulwale||1651||4|
With three (3) rounds to go in the tournament, round seven (7) produced some very unexpected results as Linda was held to yet another draw by Maria, while Lubuuto defeated Chilufya to join Linda in second (2nd) place. Daisy picked herself up from the defeat to Lorita in the previous round and defeated Constance in a way that was sweet to her soul. This tore open the qualification process, as three (3) ladies were joined on fourth (4th) place with 4.5/7 points, half a point behind the ladies in second (2nd) place. But Lorita tore away from the pack (6/7 points) by driving home the point against Naomi, who tried to hold, but fell to the superiority of the defending ladies champion.
|Round 7 on 2018/03/11|
|1||4||1651||WCM||Lubuuto Bwalya Mulwale||1 – 0||Chilufya Phiri||1296||10|
|2||5||1543||Banda Maria||½ – ½||WCM||Hamoonga Linda Banti||1737||3|
|3||6||1514||Simenda Daisy||1 – 0||WCM||Mbatha Constance||1777||2|
|4||7||1476||Mwale Naomi||0 – 1||WFM||Mwango Lorita||1956||1|
|5||8||1371||Mututubanya Portiah||1 – 0||Nshikokola Precious||1322||9|
The eight (8th) round was going to be very decisive for several of the ladies, and even though it seemed as if all the ladies using the white pieces went home to cook up lines against their competitors, it was fiercely contested. Chilufya, the lowest rated player at the event, got her second (2nd) win of the tournament against Precious, in a battle against last place in the tournament. Lorita continued her dominance over the board and defeated Portiah (now 7/8), sealing her qualification for the 2018 Chess Olympiad in Georgia and moving a step closer to claiming the women’s championship again. Constance scooped the win off Naomi, to remain within half a point of qualification for the Olympiad, barring results from the other games of the round, which eventually favored her, as Linda defeated Daisy to dash Daisy’s hope for qualification, and sealed her own qualification for the Olympiad (with 6/8 points), with an outside chance of winning the ladies championship (or at least tie for first, if and only if Lorita loses the final round game, which had not happened in a long time). Lubuuto also sealed her qualification for the Olympiad with a good win over Maria, and keeping the pressure on Lorita to at least get a draw in the last round or risk losing her title of women’s champ.
|Round 8 on 2018/03/11|
|1||10||1296||Chilufya Phiri||1 – 0||Nshikokola Precious||1322||9|
|2||1||1956||WFM||Mwango Lorita||1 – 0||Mututubanya Portiah||1371||8|
|3||2||1777||WCM||Mbatha Constance||1 – 0||Mwale Naomi||1476||7|
|4||3||1737||WCM||Hamoonga Linda Banti||1 – 0||Simenda Daisy||1514||6|
|5||4||1651||WCM||Lubuuto Bwalya Mulwale||1 – 0||Banda Maria||1543||5|
The final round was more about the ladies championship for the top three (3) players, as they already sealed qualification for the 2018 Batumi Chess Olympiad. The game of the round had to be Daisy vs Lubuuto, where Daisy ensured that she did not go down without a fight, and picking up a very important half point against the WCM to finish on 5/9 points and seal her qualification for the 2018 Chess Olympiad, while the WCM finished with 6.5/9, which was only good for the third (3rd) position. Maria also finished with a win over Chilufya to end the tournament with 4.5/9 and a very important experience going forward. After the draw with Daisy, Lubuuto lost her right to second (2nd) place when Linda defeated Naomi to seal the position and finish with 7/9 points, which was not enough to catch the moving train in Lorita, who emphatically defeated Precious in the final round of the tournament to finish with a whooping 8/9 points. Retaining her title as the best female player in Zambia and informing everyone that marriage is definitely very good for chess players, as evidenced by Kayonde’s championship win too.
|Round 9 on 2018/03/11|
|1||5||1543||Banda Maria||1 – 0||Chilufya Phiri||1296||10|
|2||6||1514||Simenda Daisy||½ – ½||WCM||Lubuuto Bwalya Mulwale||1651||4|
|3||7||1476||Mwale Naomi||0 – 1||WCM||Hamoonga Linda Banti||1737||3|
|4||8||1371||Mututubanya Portiah||0 – 1||WCM||Mbatha Constance||1777||2|
|5||9||1322||Nshikokola Precious||0 – 1||WFM||Mwango Lorita||1956||1|
With the top five (5) ladies automatically qualifying to represent Zambia at The 2018 Batumi Chess Olympiad, the final ranking of the players after the tournament is as follows:
Final Ranking after 9 Rounds
|2||3||WCM||Hamoonga Linda Banti||ZAM||1737||7,0||0,0||5||26,00|
|5||4||WCM||Lubuuto Bwalya Mulwale||ZAM||1651||5,0||0,5||4||15,00|
It would have definitely been more interesting had Woman International Master (WIM) Epah Tembo Jere taken part in this selection process, but maybe she is more occupied with family, work and travels, to be bothered with chess in the country at the moment. These ladies will be put through rigorous training regimen by the federation, as it is hoped that Batumi, Georgia will serve as a reminder to other Zambian ladies that anything is possible as long as you believe and work hard for it!
Featured Image courtesy of David Llada