With over a hundred (100) players participating from Zimbabwe, Botswana and Zambia, it was the Zambians that ran riot at the event with Fide Master Luanja Geoffrey and International Master Gillian Bwalya, both of Zambia, coming out victorious at the Zimbabwe Easter Open tournament. The two players finished with seven and a half (7.5) points out of the possible nine (9) points obtainable.
Round one had all the top players picking up wins without fail. Luanja played against Gwezere Anesu with the white pieces, and it did not take too long before the ELO 1600+ fell into traps set by the tactical Luanja, which Luanja won convincingly. While IM Bwalya Gillian also had an easy ride in the first round playing with the black pieces against Moyo Peter, and quietly awaited his second round match. The story of the round to those who were not at the venue would have been how IM Phiri Richmond lose to Adolf Muungani, An ELO 1642 player. The IM could not make the tournament and was unable to get in touch with the organizers before the start of the first round, which saw him lose the fist round to a walk over and he was pulled out in before the start of the second round.
In round two, only three (3) of the top six (6) were able to pick up wins in the open section, Luanja recorded his second win with black against Chinhanga Tinashe, Gillian also recorded a win against Musekiwa Michael and CM Prince Daniel Mulenga defeated Makwata Darlington, while the trio of FM Douglas Munenga, CM Phiri Godwin and FM Olobile Thato were held to painful draws in the round by Madanhi Van, Nyamajiwa Talent Tatenda and Muririma Mugove respectively.
Round three (3) was a relatively easy round for the top players, as there was only one (1) draw in the whole of the top ten boards. The round saw Luanja take on Kenneth Ruchaka, picking up the win and keeping the pressure on IM Gillian, who also secured an important win against Elisha Thabo on board 1. While Mulenga Prince Daniel, Jemusse Zhemba, Mushore Emerald, CM Moyo Dion and Masango Spencer completed the list of players moving to the next round with a perfect three (3) points of the three (3) games played.
The fourth (4th) round was always going to be the beginning of the real battles, and it did not disappoint, with three (3) draws in the top five (5) boards, Luanja and Mushore Emerald pulled away from the pack with wins over their respective opponents, while IM Gillian was held to draw by Jemusse, Mulenga Prince Daniel was also held by Masango, to leave only Luanja and Mushore on perfect scores. In a fiercely contested battle, Luanja defeated Candidate Master Dion Moyo with the black pieces, while Matiringe Archford could not withstand the punches of Mushore and eventually had to fall the king.
Going into the fifth (5th) round, Luanja was paired against the only other player with a perfect score in Emerald Mushore of Zimbabwe and the game ended in a very interesting draw, while Mulenga Prince Daniel and Jemusse Zhemba played catch up by winning their respective games against Mosutha Thuso and Masango Spencer respectively and joining the leaders at the top of the standings.
With four (4) rounds left to go, round six (6) was going to be an interesting one and a pulsating game was played by Luanja against Zhemba Jemusse. The game took so long that it was one of the very last games to finish, but it was Luanja who came out victorious in the wake of time scramble to pull away from the crowd with half a point. Mushore and Mulenga, who were jointly in the lead had to settle for a draw, while IM Gillian, Kabwe Timothy and CM Dion Moyo caught up with the second placed players for the next round.
Round seven (7) saw the leader played against his countryman and former champion of the Easter Open Tournament, IM Gillian Bwalya, with whom he settled for a draw, keeping him at the top of the standings, considering the fact that all the other games on the top three (3) boards also ended in a draw. But then a host of others won their games to join the second placed players on five and a half (5.5) after seven (7) round of games.
Round eight (8) had to have some decisive results for the final round to be clear for the players at the top boards, and that was exactly what happened, as Prince Daniel Mulenga who recently qualified into play for the Zambia National Team at the Olympiad, lost to FM Luanja, while IM Gillian and Kabwe Timothy also defeated Masango Spencer and CM Dion Moyo respectively, to keep pace with the leader of the tournament.
What should have been an exciting finale to the 2018 Zimbabwe Easter Open was slightly marred by what turned out to be a significant number of defaults in the final round. The most important of these took place on the second board where Zimbabwe’s Emerald Mushore failed to arrive for his game against IM Gillan Bwalya from Zambia. FM Luanja then played Kabwe Timothy and agreed to a quick draw, which ensured that he won the tournament with a total of seven and a half (7.5) points, to lift the trophy ahead of IM Gillian Bwalya.
Kabwe Timothy of Zambia, Chikwavaire Tapiwa, Murasiranwa Blessing, and Lesole Pudungwane of Botswana were all tied on third position with seven (7) points out of nine (9) games. These players were then followed by a five (5) way tie for the seventh (7th) position with six and a half (6.5) points and these are inclusive of: CM Dion Moyo, CM Mulenga Prince Daniel, Mosutha Thuso of Botswana, Elisha Chimbamu of Zimbabwe and FM Olobile Thato of Botswana. Murasiranwa Blessing a Medical student at the University of Zimbabwe performed very well, he defeated national Champion Zhemba Zhemusse in a very interesting, mouth watering game, which was full of surprise moves. FM Douglas Mulengsa finished with six (6) points after drawing his final round game against Spencer Masango of Zimbabwe. The prizes were in US dollars and was sponsored by Kasparov Chess Foundation, Africa. Elton Mhangarayi was the Tournament Director while IA Murimi helped to ensure that the tournament met the Fide standards. FA Blessing Jemani was the Chief Arbiter while Deputy Chief Arbiter was FA Chimbamu, while NA Admire Mawire also assisted in the smooth running of the chess tourney which attracted 167 players in the open section. This year, the tournament had three sections, Open section, Ladies section and the under 14 boys section.