Lawrence Tavagwisa: Africa’s Best Performer at The World Amateur Chess Championship

Following his victory in Africa, young and talented Lawrence Tavagwisa bagged yet another medal at the prestigious World Amateurs Chess Championships, held in Cagliari-Sardegna, Italy from the 22nd to 29th of April, 2018.

Time Control: 90min/40moves+30min/end +30sec increment/move starting from move 1
Tournament: Open Swiss
Rounds: 9 Rounds
Chief Arbiter: IA Bertagnolli Gerhard
Date: 22nd to 29th April, 2018
Venue: Califfo Hotel of Quartu St. Elena Cagliari, Italy

Being victorious at the under 2000 category of The Africa Amateur Individual Chess Championship in Zambia was not enough to satisfy the hunger for success in this young man, as he went on to represent Africa at the world stage of the tournament as one of the official representatives from Africa, and finished a close third place at the event in Cagliary, Italy.
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Zimbabwe’s Lawrence Tavagwisa and Malawi’s Chiletso Chipanga
Born on the first day of July, 1996, in the capital city of Harare, Tavagwisa attended Ruzivo Primary School from the year 2002 – 2008, after which, he moved on to Mufakose 2 High school, where he continued his educational development from form one (1) to form four (4) between the years 2009 – 2012, to earn his ordinary Level certificate. He then gained admission to Prince Edward School for his Advanced Level studies, from the year 2013 – 2014. For further education, he went to Harare Polytechnic, where he completed a course in Laboratory Technology, to become a Lab Technician!
He became the captain of the Prince Edward School chess team when he was in his Upper Six (6). His chess understanding was discovered when he was a learner at Mufakose 2 High school, where he became the champion of the under 16 boys category at both Provincial and National level. The young man has represented the country at the Commonwealth Chess Championships, in the open section, which held in Durban, at the ICC in 2014, and since then he never stopped playing the game and never stopped developing.
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Lawrence Tavagwisa in thoughts
He also coached and helped produce a Woman Candidate Master in the person of Rumbidzai Mawire of the Young Chess Masters. Started off as a personal coach for Mawire, and latter went on to be one of the top coaches at the country’s only Fide registered academy in Zimbabwe as at present.
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Rumbidzai Mawire and Mudodo
The player has also participated and came out victorious at the Capablanca Open Tournament, where he created an upset by beating International Master Watu Kobese of South Africa to the trophy, in one of his most prized career wins. This was not a mean achievement, as hardwork and dedication to practice has shown to pay a lot.
Growing up in the ghetto of Mufakose was one of the best things that happened to Tavagwisa. These are very difficult places to grow in, and while most people in these areas have an affinity and affection for soccer, chess is not one of the easily promoted sports at the ghetto schools. This happens in most of the formal grade A school set ups, and this was one of the stumbling block which Tavagwisa once suffered from, as he failed to represent the country in the African Youth Chess Championships, which held in Pretoria, South Africa in 2012. But this could not stop him from pursuing his passion for the game, as more bright prospects were to evolve from one of the founders of the Young Chess Masters Founders Admire Mawire, who assisted in ensuring that Tavagwisa’s dream of becoming a champion in the game was realized.
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Lawrence Tavagwisa playing his beloved Sicilian
In the first round of the World Amateur Chess Championship, Lawrence played against Alshourfaa Hazaa of Kuwait (ELO 1790), which he won using the Sicilian defence, in an Italian city. He went down in round two to Ortegon Villacort (ELO 1879) of Columbia, after playing so brilliantly, only to lose to the clock, must have left a dent. But this dent did not last long, though on board twenty (20) with a point, he revived his spirit in round three against Rooplal Desmond rated (ELO 1756), of South Africa as he gave the South African a Greek gift, in yet another variation of the Sicilian, which gave him the victory in his third game, to move on to two points. Round four was going to be a difficult one for Tavagwisa against a formidable Tadevosyan Gevorg (ELO 1860) of Armenia, though he mixed ideas, Tavagwisa lost to a better player on the day and he would kick himself for the loss. But this was going to be the last game he would lose at the whole tournament.
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Lawrence Tavagwisa vs Ortegon Villacorte Daniela
He went on to win against Mohnblatt Daniel of France (ELO 1783) in the fourth (4th) round, Bowman Richard of England (ELO 1802) in the fifth (5th) round, Minelli Fautso of Brazil (ELO 1730) in the sixth (6th) round, and Cap Piotr of Poland (ELO 1896) in the penultimate round, where he played one of the best games of the tournament.
The final round game against Zakharov Denis of Russia (ELO 1898), could have gone either way, but Tavagwisa was able to place his pieces just right for a favorable transition leading to the type of endgame every chess player hopes for and therefore sealing a third place finish on the podium. He finished joint second place and only picked the third position because of the  Buchholz Tie-Breaks system used.
Tavagwisa
Final Ranking after 9 Rounds of Games
Tavagwisa’s seven (7) points wins and two (2) losses, of nine (9) games played made him one of the most prolific fighters at the tournament barring Hajiyev Kanan of Azebejan who whitewashed all his opponents (But did not play Tavagwisa) and finished with a perfect score of nine (9) points of the possible (9) games, picking up the gold medal for the under 2000, while Baisynov Islam of Kazakhstan who finished with just one loss, two (2) draws and six (6) wins, ending the tournament with seven (7) points, and earning the silver medal, because of a superior  Buchholz Tie-Breaks and his tournament performance rating.
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Tavagwisa trying to find counter play is a position where the bishop is dominant
With a tournament performance rating of 2042 and gaining about twenty (20) ELO points during this tournament, Tavagwisa opined that,”the achievements I have had this year, are the right steps towards my ultimate goal of becoming a Grandmaster.” He went on to thank his sponsor and his family members, “I would like to thank my long time sponsor, Mr. A. Mawire, my mom and the rest of my family for the encouragement.” For this achievement, the player got a Candidate Master Title after this splendid performance at the event. This is really a major step and inspiration for all the ghetto youths, and it also shows that the sky is only the stepping stone to the greatness we can achieve when we believe in our dreams.
This also shows that people should not allow themselves to be affected by the artificial boundaries we seem to have in our pursuit of success. It is within reach and you can succeed. Lawrence is on his journey and you can also begin yours and bear the fruits of hardwork.
Tournament Pictures Courtesy of: Magda and Julian Preda – www.salouchess.com

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