On a night when Africa chose to recognize her elite chess players, and the players chose to respond to the call of Africa, the Africa Elite Arena Tournament was birthed, to provide top African players the platform to play against themselves and the average player something to aspire towards. And about twenty-five (25) 2100+ lichess rated players partook in the 1st edition of this prestigious event.
Event: Africa Elite Arena 1
Time Control: 3+0
Duration: 2 Hours
Winner: FM Harold Wanyama (Wanyaland)
Date: 6th May, 2018.
Tournament Link: https://lichess.org/tournament/DxGQxzk9
Numbers of Participants: 25 Players, 7 Titled Players.
At the beginning of the tournament, Nigeria’s Precious Emojevu (@Preciguy) held the early lead, as other rated players including FM Fawole John Oyeyemi (@Fawolizzo) of Nigeria, FM Harold Wanyama (@Wanyaland) of Uganda and CM Mulenga Prince Daniel (@Tactinhos2900) started slow and had to pick up pace in the two (2) hour long tournament.
@Preciguy started with a loss against Charles Hapaku (@Hapaku24) at the start of the tournament, before picking up and taking the lead with wins over @Skydeborov, @TheBoffin, @takov and @Queen5slayer. After these wins, @Preciguy was to meet @Hapaku24 again, and this time, he promised himself not to lose. He got the draw, which removed the fire (double points) from his progress and allowed @TheBoffin catch up, who then lost the top spot to @Wanyaland, who would build his lead as the tournament went on.
After @Wanyaland took the lead, it was left to every other player to knock him off that trail, and the player whom everyone thought would have been able to do just that, @Tactinhos2900, could only muster a draw, as he was hammered three times in the arena, and was only able to transfer the aggression to the other lower rated players.
Although, @Fawolizzo pushed himself beyond borders in this arena, and he kept the pace with @Wanyaland, as they both were winning their games. While @Wanyaland was leading with a healthy three (3) points, @Fawolizzo stumbled and was held to a draw by @Olarov, but @Wanyaland just continued winning without looking at the opponents before him, bulldozing everyone that was put in front of him like a tractor clearing the lawn and making the path smooth in the wake of everything it had overcome.
As Fawolizzo also fell to @Wanyaland, even though the pressure was high in the game, @Wanyaland got the inspiration needed, plus a little help from @Fawolizzo, to end the game with a win after sacrificing his Bishop.
Here is the game below.
This opened a wide margin between the two, and @Wanyaland kept slicing through everyone (like hot knife through butter) to grow the margin, while others kept faltering. @Wanyaland was said to have escaped from several positions that seemed to be in the opponent’s favor, but as the saying goes: “the better player is always lucky”. And while @Wanyaland was busy cutting through all that came through his path, the race for second and third spot heated up between @Fawolizzo and @Tactinhos2900, with Fawolizzo losing four (4) of his last five (5) games to slip up (losing to @Wanyaland again), and @Tactinhos2900 gaining massive ground by picking up four (4) important wins in his last five (5) games, including a deciding win over @Fawolizzo in the latter’s last game of the tournament, to give him the rights to the all important second place finish, while @Fawolizzo had to settle for the third place position at the end of the tournament.
And just as FC Real Madrid tried so hard to break the unbeaten run of FC Barcelona over the weekend, @Skabari came so close in the last game of the tournament, to quench the run of fire on @Wanyaland, and even though he should have won, he spent more time trying to win or at least get a draw and eventually lost on time in a keenly contested game.
Here is the game.
@Wanyaland finished the tournament in an obvious first position, playing twenty-two (22) games, picking up sixty-nine (69) points from nineteen (19) wins, one (1) draw and two (2) early loses, with a performance rating of 2562, and ended the tournament with thirty-four (34) points ahead of the second placed @Tactinhos2900.
We at Africa Chess hope that the next edition of this event would have more highly rated players, more titled players and of course more upsets, to make the challenge more enticing and interesting for the viewers and followers of the Africa Elite Arena tournament!
Below is the list of the top ten (10) finishers of the tournament and the countries they represent:
Africa Elite Arena 1 Top Ten (10)
- Wanyaland – Uganda
- Tactinhos2900 – Zambia
- Fawolizzo – Nigeria
- Preciguy – Nigeria
- TheBoffin – Zimbabwe
- Diransplace – Nigeria
- Naijacobweb – Nigeria
- Skydeborov – Nigeria
- Olarov – Nigeria
- Hapaku24 – Zambia
Featured Image Courtesy: CSB Photography
Fawole John Oyeyemi Picture Courtesy: John Saunders