Every year, African top chess masters converge for the Africa Individual Chess Championships, to battle it out for the majestic ‘King of African Chess’ crown. This year, the tournament is being held in the copper rich Southern African country of Zambia. Despite the continental greatness of the tournament, it is the Egyptians that have been making the most of the international headlines at the African premier event. And this year’s event, up to this time, is yet to show itself to be an exception.
Just like a hungry pride of lions encircle a lone Buffalo, Egyptian top chess players mooched away from Arabian territory to find themselves in the ‘beautiful’ Livingstone, a city in Southern Zambia. The Egyptians have been a dominant force on the continental chess ranking, a status they have now confined to themselves and seek to monopolize. The Egyptian delegation led by Africa’s number one chess player, GM Bassem Amin (2667), are five in total in the open section and the top two (2) players in GM Amin Bassem and GM Ahmed Adly have swept through their various opponents like hot knife through butter, followed by the Zambian National Champion, who trails by just half a point. Which in turn, working the sixth (6th) round to be the much anticipated showpiece of the tournament as the Zambians take on the Egyptians.
Africa’s ‘darling’ IM Andrew Kayonde, who is also the hosts’ number one player, stood on the sixth (6th) position on the starting rank, a status he has so far improved (3rd) at the tournament, and intends to change when the tournament comes to end on the 21st of May, 2018. Speaking through his manager, Mr Clement Mayimbo, shortly before departure for Livingstone from his base in the country’s capital, Lusaka, Andrew now fondly known as ‘The AK 47’ among the Africa chess buffs declared “I am quite ready to take on the dominant Egyptians”.
The ladies section has not been spared by the Egyptians, as Egyptian war lady, Wafa Shahenda, the only WGM at the event, just like her male matching parts, equally leaves a trail of destruction at such continental mega events. But she too faces stiff competition from the likes of the Algerian WIM duo of Amina Mezioud, Latreche Sabrina as well as Zambia’s WFM Lorita Mwango. In most sport disciplines, especially football, Egyptians and Algerians have been bitter rivals despite being neighboring countries, and we wait to see if that rivalry will be renewed on the chess board. With the backing of over 17 million Zambians, Zambian number one female player, WFM Lorita Mwango is equally poised to be a high wall to fight for her Women Grandmaster title at this event, after putting up some strong show at the Women’s National Championship earlier in the year.
Other notable African chess heavyweights taking part in the event include the Zimbabwean National Champion, Zhemba Jemusse, who showed prowess when he was paired against GM Abdelrahman Hesham to pick up a draw in the first round and would be aiming at inflicting more damages when faced with other top notch continental players. Namibian wonder kid, FM Dante Beukes, who currently lost the chess crown of Namibia to CM Charles Eichab on tie break, and currently has two and a half (2.5) points after five (5) games, is equally a player to look out for.
The Big guy, IM Mabusela Johannes of South Africa is another player worth mentioning, who is definitely going to rely on his experience to buttress the idea, that South Africa is a chess powerhouse in the region. And we can not but mention the Mozambique National Champion CM Donaldo Paiva, whose only loss of the tournament thus far has been to GM Ahmed Adly, but would be looking to bounce back today and finish the tournament strongly.
Apart from their talisman, AK 47, the Zambians also have a formidable representation, comprising of IM Gillian Bwalya, IM Kelvin Chumfwa, IM Chitumbo Mwali and IM Richmond Phiri. The list is completed by FM Mutailenu Nshikikola, CM Musatwe Simutowe (yes he is related to the famous Zambezi Shark, he is actually the elder brother of GM Amon Simutowe) and CM James Dimba, and surprise packages Kandagwe Joster and William Kolomwe. Other notable participants include, but not limited to: Malawian duo of female player Desiderata Nkhoma and Chiona Richard, Botswana’s only IM Oatlhotse Providence, Angolas IM duo of Aderito Pedro and Domingos Catarino, Algeria’s IM Oussedik Mahfoud FM Talbi Chafik also braved the long distance from North Africa to challenge the for the Grandmaster title.
The tournament started on the 13th May, 2018 and is expected to run up to 21st May, 2018. The championship is being played at the Warm Habor Hotel, in the heart of Livingstone, which is also dubbed ‘Zambia’s Tourist Capital’ thanks to one the Seven (7) Wonders of the World (The Victoria Falls), which the city shares with Victoria Falls town in Zimbabwe. The nine (9) round event has fifty (50) total participants (30 in the open section and 20 in the ladies section), and has been dubbed by many to be one of the strongest Championship to hold on the continent.
Here are the standings are Round 5
And now here are the games from the African Individuals Rounds 1 to 5 – Open Section