Blessing Murasiranwa, one of the best performing players at the recently concluded Easter Open Chess Tournament. He is a medical student Doctor at the University of Zimbabwe and he has shown a lot of improvements despite the challenges and demands of his Degree Programme. He is currently in the fourth (4th) year of his doctorate programme, and he was the best player on board one (1), at the Zimbabwe University Sports Association games held in Bulawayo, finishing with eleven and a half (11.5) points of the twelve (12) games he played, with only one drawn game against Vitalis Mapuranga of Bindura University of Sciences.
Blessing Murasiranwa and His Rise to Chess Prominence
For the purpose of this interview, my initials will stand as (VC) – Victor Chimbamu, while Blessing Murasiranwa will be tagged as (BM). The interview was conducted with him to find out about his chess development and how he became this strong, with his responses to my questions as follows:
How old are you and when did you start playing the game of chess?
I was born in Satellite Town, close to Harare, the capital City of Zimbabwe, on the 8th of May, 1995. And I started playing chess at the later stage of my junior years. I started playing the game at the age of sixteen (16) years, just after I had finished writing my ‘O’ level exams in 2011. At first, I did not expect to achieve much with chess, but alas, I was wrong.
Who inspired you to take up the game?
Actually, a number of people helped to get me to where I currently am. I first learnt the game from a neighbor, way back when I was staying in Chitungwiza. I was fascinated at the passion he had for the game, as I would see him studying chess alone and I just thought it would not hurt to join him since I had a lot of time then. After learning the basics, I really felt that this was the game for me, because I have always had an affinity for things requiring logical reasoning (I still do). But most of the inspiration to play came later, when I went for A level at Zengeza 1 High School. There, I met a great player and now my good friend Vitalis Mapuranga. I was amazed at how he outplayed everyone at the school. We became friends and he helped me a lot with my chess development. He gave me games of the then world champion Viswanathan Anand and I was really inspired by these games. Later on, we were joined by Archford Matiringe, we read a lot and helped each other to study since then. In 2014, I started my studies at the University of Zimbabwe, where I also met a number of players who contributed a lot to my chess development, including my teammate, Madanhi Van and my coach Kahoba Lewis.
Which tournaments did you participate in and where did you get your best results?
My first national tournament was the Zimbabwe open in 2013, which I managed to score 5.5/11. I thought this was a major achievement for me and this helped me to anticipate even more tournament. Over the years I have not been able to attend all the tournaments because of school, but in 2016, I was able to play the Easter Open and Chitungwiza Open, where I finished with average results. Last year, I also represented CBZ chess club in the Harare Chess league. This year 2018, has been a good year for me, starting with Zimbabwe Open Chess Tournament, where I finished in 8th position with a score of 6/8. My greatest performance so far was at Easter Open 2018, a tournament that had very strong field, where I managed to score seven (7) points of the possible nine (9).
I came into the tournament prepared and I thought it was going to be an easy ride for me. My first set of games were relatively easy, but after my loss to Dion Moyo in the third (3rd) round, everything changed. I managed to win my game in the fourth (4th) round and then drew in round five (5) against a very solid Vitalis. I squeezed a win in round six (6) against Kudakwashe Nyamadzawo. My best game of the tournament was in round seven (7), where I defeated the current Zimbabwe National Champion. In round eight (8), I played an interesting game against Emerald Mushore, I made an inaccurate move, but managed to defend well and got a draw. On the last day of the tournament, I picked up an important win against Mujuru Wayne to finish joint third (3rd) with 7/9 points. I felt encouraged for my efforts and now believe that I can achieve more if I keep on working on my chess.
Recently, I participated at the Zimbabwe University Sports Association (ZUSA) Games were I managed to score 11.5 out of 12 games. I won against good players including Musekiwa Michael (MSU), Prince Chidembo (NUST), Baila from (HIT) and many others. I drew Vitalis in a very interesting ending with queen against 2 rooks.
Although I have already chosen a carrier for myself, I love chess and I will continue to play the game. Hopefully, I get to represent Zimbabwe at the Olympiad in the near future and outperform some Grandmasters at the event.
What would be your advice for upcoming young players, who are watching your steady rise to prominence?
I would advice all young players of the game to study hard consistently, and be disciplined, it might take time, but the results will surely follow.
We appreciate you for taking out time to give us this interview.
At the end, Blessing showed us that hardwork pays and effectiveness as well as efficiency in the game comes through a lot of effort. Blessing is a student Doctor at the University of Zimbabwe, and this shows that he is not only serious as a student, but also as a player. He is showing all the youngsters that balancing chess and school work is possible. A good example to all the future chess players.