Nigerian Chess Players in diaspora

When I was much younger, I used to think “diaspora” was actually a country (please don’t laugh at me). Imagine when someone says, “some Nigerians are in diaspora” and I would be like, “For real”? Which part of the world is this diaspora? For those who are just as uninformed as I was when I was six (6) years old, the word ‘diaspora’ refers to people who emigrated from their country to another country, to either settle there permanently or for a period of time.

What has this got to do with this article? Well, not only do we have Nigerians in Diaspora excelling in Sciences, mathematics, computer engineering, football, basketball, boxing, writing, modeling, acting etc. A few worth mentioning are David Oyelowo (Actor), Emmanuel Ohuabunwa (who was the first black person to graduate top his class at the John Hopkins University, USA), Sade Adu (singer and song writer), Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Artist), Patrick Chukwuemeka known as Tinie Tempah, Ben Okri (a poet), Adebayo Ogunlesi (who heads Global Infrastructure Partners, and a Fortune 500 companies). Here, we are specifically sharing about Nigerians who are doing well with chess, outside the country.

Nigerians dominate at the just concluded 61st Hampstead Under 2200 section.
The 61st Hampstead Under 2200 section just ended. Chino Atako who has Nigerian blood running in his veins, won the tournament with four and a half (4.5) points of the possible five (5) points, while Ogunshola Ben, who was seeded second at the tournament, tied for 2nd place with Stephen Pior with a total of four (4) points of the possible five (5) points, to share the prize loot equally amongst themselves. Other Nigerians who participated where Odiase Oluwaseun (ELO 1808) and Mr. Olufemi George (ELO 1807).

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Chiko Ataka – Picture Courtesy: John Upham

61st Hampstead: Under 2200 section
Chief Arbiter: Adam Roof
Time Control: 60+30secs added
Heart of Hampstead Village, London

Round 1
At the first round, the greatest shock happened on board two (2), where, with over three hundred (300+) rating difference, Ogunshola Ben was held to a draw by Merriman James (ELO 1690), who had the white pieces, while Olufemi George (ELO 1807) defeated Dupuis Denis K (ELO 1400) with the black pieces, and Odiase Oluwaseun losing to Leslie Alex (ELO 1519) was a huge set back for the Nigerian (hoping to take his chess higher), even though he had the white pieces.

Round 2
This round had highly rated Christopher Russell (2149) losing to Olufemi George (1807) in less than thirty two (32) moves. The game annotated by Femi George himself and Mr. Damilola Ojo is highlighted below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILlOC3y2QU8
While at it, Ogunshole Ben went all out against lowly rated Chiang Richard with the white pieces to drive home the full point, as Odiase Oluwaseun picked himself up from the first round loss and defeated Davidson Luara (ELO 1632) with the black pieces.

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Olufemi George

Round 3
All the while, the England born Nigerian ,Atako Chino had picked up sweet victories over  two (2) sixteen hundred plus (1600+) players, and now had to settle for draw with the black pieces against a relatively strong Prior Stephen (ELO 2014) instead of pushing for the win, while Olufemi George, after a superb win against a player rated over three hundred (300) points above him in the previous round, could not get past Rushbrooke Remy, in a keenly contested bout, hence a draw was agreed. As Odiase Oluwaseun continued his resurgence and took his time to defeat John Joshua (1598) with the white pieces.

Round 4
By the fifth round, five (5) players were tied at the top of the standings, trying to work their way into the final round ahead of the other. Ogunshola Ben was paired against Jamroz Krzysztof (ELO 2000), and the former won the battle, playing with the white pieces. Prior Stephen (2014) did not underestimate Olufemi George, after seeing what the latter did to the highest rated player in the second round, hence Prior won this encounter but not without a stiff fight from Mr George. Chiko Ataka defeated Russell Christopher (ELO 2149) in the battle of ratings, to join the top leaders in this round. While Odiase Oluwaseun defeated Sheikh Nasarullah (ELO 1686) with the black pieces.

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Chiko Ataka – Picture Courtesy: Olufemi George

Round 5
The final round saw the Prior Stephen paired against Ogunshola Ben. The game ended in a quiet draw for both players, and they could only wait for the game on board two (2) to finish, for them to know if they would have a share of the first place prize, alas, it was not to be and hence, the tie for 2nd position as they both ended with four (4) points out of a possible five (5).
Odiase Oluwaseun missed his chance to stop Atako Chino, which would have resulted in a three (3) way tie for the first place. Atako’s win made him the sole winner of the tournament with four and a half (4.5) points out of the possible five (5). Olufemi George also lost his last round to Jamroz Krzysztof (ELO 2000) of Poland.

The details can be found here.

Another superb player Remi Adekola (2085 USCF), who plays under the US Chess Federation, even though he was born a Nigerian, finished joint 4th place after a brilliant performance at the Chicago Open, by finishing with five and a half (5.5) points out of a possible seven (7).
Drew his game in the first round against Kai Aaron Tabor (1978). Defeated Henry Joseph Curcio (1905) in the second round. Was held to a draw by John Paul Bucky in the third round. From this point on, he went on rampage by defeating Eric Hon (2082), Zvonko Juric (2000), Eric Chandler Starkman (2011) in rounds four (4), five (5) and six (6) respectively. With five (5) points going into the final round against Agarorol Gangaa (2081), who was leading the pack with a full point ahead, a draw was sufficient for the latter to win the event, which he achieved with ease, while Remi Adekola settled and tied for the 4th place.

Tournament results here.

Remi Adekola
Remi Adekola – Picture Courtesy: Nathan Kelly

There is a young man called Ifalore Michael, already nicknamed Chess whizzkid, who plays under the England Federation aged just sixteen (16) years old and has played a total of five hundred and seventy three (573) rated games in the span of four (4) years. A feat most U-16 Nigerians can only achieve by playing chess online, due to the fact that there are very few rated tournaments in the country. He won two hundred and seventy one (271) games, drew seventy (70) and lost two hundred and thirty two (232) games and sits at Classical rating of ELO 1867. He is currently ranked 26th in Under-16 (active players) in England. He has featured in the European Youth Chess Championship U-13 in 2014, 103rd British Championship U-14 in 2016, 8th CSC London Chess Classic in 2016, 14th 4NCL Congress Open in 2017, 104th British Championships U-16 in 2017 and the 9th CSC London Chess Classic: FIDE Open in 2017.

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Ifalore Michael – Picture Courtesy: Comnor House School

In 2014, Michael wowed in the Wilsons School Chess Tournament! With 35 participants, he won all his opponents convincingly and drawing the last round to share the winners trophy.

With these great exploits from Nigerians in Diaspora, one can easily conclude that home is wherever you make it. We hope to give you more interesting stories on Africans doing exploits in diaspora in our subsequent posts.

2 comments

  1. Congrats to Femi George! Also looking forward to ehen Nigerians in the homeland will get as much exposure…there really is some talent

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