In way about 48 hours, the African chess community will be on its feet as the curtains open for what will be a truly memorable tournament on West African soil. Dubbed the CIV Rapid and Blitz Invitational, this tournament will take place at Hotel Tiama, a celebrated hotel in Abidjan, Cote D’lvoire’s Southern Atlantic City and the country’s largest urban centre.
Under the tutelage of the Chess Federation of Cote d’Ivoire (FIDEC) in conjunction with the Kasparov Chess Foundation Francophone and the Kasparov Chess Foundation Africa, this high-status tournament will see some of the continents OUTSTANDING chess stars come under one roof to clash from the 25th to the 29th of July, 2018. It is not just a fight for a share of the majestic prize pool of USD 15, 000, this is a fight for national glory and patriotism as each of these invited players come from different countries of the African continent.
According to one of the key backers of this mega event (KCF), the Rapid Chess lot of the tournament will be played as a 10-player single round-robin with a total of nine (9) games to be played in a length of three (3) days. On the other hand, the Blitz section will be played as a 10 player double round robin with 18 games played over the remaining two days.
With time controls of 25 minutes with 10 seconds delay for the Rapid portion of the event and 5 minutes with 3 seconds delay for the Blitz, this tournament will no doubt boost the chess profile of the host country which is relatively an infant chess playing country with the country’s highest rated player, Degondo Simplice Armel being the only titled player (FM) in the country with a rating of 2138.
As the clock continues to tick down to this historical tournament, the event has already started catching the public mood in Africa with some of the invited players expressing their delight and readiness for the event.
An evenhanded analysis of the players herein invited will show that there are no brash underdogs in this tournament. Each and every player that will take part in this battle is ‘a man in his own accord’ and brings to the table a different and unique talent that will mesmerize the followers of this rich showpiece. In other words, each of the swords that these ‘chosen men of Africa’ carry can penetrate the other’s other’s armor.
Egyptian chess lord and Africa’s UNSURPASSED player, GM Bassem Amin is by far the tournament’s favorite. But he knows not to take things lightly as he faces a trying and energy consuming task if at all he wants to leave the streets of Abidjan triumphantly.
His fellow North African player, Algerian GM Mohamed Haddouche is a well cultivated player who knows how to play top class chess and is no doubt hungry to show Africa that he was once the continents ‘Roaring Lion’ in his heydays.
Other GMs that will be marking GM Bassem are South African GM Kenny Solomon and Tunisian GM Slim Belkhodja.
Madagascar’s hopes lie in their young ‘Wonder Boy’ IM Fy Rakotomaharo, the fourth seed of the event. This young talent is well abreast with such international assignments and will try to again to cause upsets in such kinds of high magnitude tournaments.
Another young sensational talent to look out for at this event is Angolan whiz kid, IM David Silva whose name is internationally acclaimed having won the African Chess Junior Crown twice. A clash of these two youngest players at this event promises to be truly an exciting affair.
Still, there is the inspirational Zambian six times champion, IM Andrew Kayonde who is very solid and is sometimes referred to as the ‘GM Slayer’ due to the number of multiple times he has beaten GMs at internationally decorated tournaments. This adorned accountant, who also holds the position of the National Treasurer of the Zambian chess governing body, CFZ will be hoping to preserve the ‘Power house’ tag that his country has for a long time enjoyed but that is now coming under serious interrogation due to the country’s failure to produce another GM after the globally acclaimed GM Amon Simutowe.
Even so, Andrew will captain the Zambian chess ship that will dock in September later this year in the Georgian city of Batumi for the battle of the ‘Chess World Cup’ as such he knows a good performance at this event will surely inspire a good outing at the Olympiads.
Ugandan number one chess player, IM Arthur Ssegwanyi will equally try to impose his national flag at this event. He too has enough international exposure for such a tournament and will no doubt produce glittering moves that will leave many followers of the tournament egg-faced.
IM Oladapo Adu, carries the hope of the Nigerians at this affair. The much respected and disciplined IM is one of the most experienced players at this event, a feature which is cardinal in such tournaments.
The following is the full list of participants plus their URS ratings in brackets:
GM Bassem Amin EGY (2680).
GM Mohamed Haddouche ALG (2495).
IM Mokliss El Adnani MAR (2450).
IM Fy Rakotomaharo MAD (2421).
GM Kenny Solomon RSA (2418).
IM Arthur Ssegwanyi UGA (2389).
GM Slim Belhodja TUN (2386).
IM Andrew Kayonde ZAM (2385).
IM David Silva ANG (2319).
IM Oladapo Adu NIG (2270).