The 24th of July saw ten players from the African continent converge at Hotel Tiama in Ivory Coast, for what has been billed as one of the biggest tournaments in Africa. These players had all agreed to participate at the first request, with several leaving what they were doing to accept the invitation to participate and show support for this initiative and vision. The tournament honors the top titled players on the continent and gives both top players and upcoming players something to aspire to, in their quest for relevance on the continent and hopefully on the global scene.
Africa Chess Media has partnered with Avantiline Design Limited to ensure that we bring daily reports on the tournament to Africans. The tournament is run by the Ivory Coast Chess Federation (FIDEC) in partnership with Kasparov Chess Foundation Africa, Kasparov Chess Foundation Francophone and Vivendi. FIDEC has also partnered with TIAMA Hotel (a 5 star rated hotel) to ensure that the participants and organizers are housed at an awesome venue throughout the tournament.
The ten player field consists of:
These 10 top players have been brought together to show the world that Africa indeed has top class players, who only need more exposure as both GM Amin and GM Haddouche have shown in recent years, picking up trophies in different parts of the world, where they have played.
The 25th of July kick-started the hostilities, but before the battle begun, there was a photo-shoot and video interview by the delectable WGM Alina L’Ami, who is the official photographer and reporter for the event. Most of the players tipped GM Amin as the overwhelming favorite for the tournament but this does not mean they would not be fighting from the outset.
The CIV Rapid and Blitz Tournament follows the Grand Chess Tour format where a win counts for two points, a draw counts for one point and a loss counts for zero points in the rapid event and one point for a win, half point for a draw and zero point for a loss, in the blitz event. These points accumulate through the nine rounds of rapid chess played over three days, and eighteen games of blitz which are played as a double round robin over the final two days.
As the tournament kicked off with the rapid time control, GM Amin, GM Haddouche, young IM Rakotomaharo and IM Kayonde all picked up important victories in the first round. IM El Adnani stole the draw from IM Adu who came into the tournament with the plan of winning it (but didn’t they all?).
The second round had really interesting results, as GM Slim Belkhodja fell for the second time to IM El Adnani in a quick twenty-eight (28) move game. IM Adu missed a queen trap in a game where the pressure had been on from the opening, and he eventually succumbed to IM Ssegwanyi. Fy played some brilliant chess to deny GM Solomon Kenny the full point, and David Silva showed attacking prowess and determination to pick up the point against IM Kayonde.
The game of the second round was undoubtedly the battle of the two Amin(es), as Bassem took on Haddouche in a battle which went all the way to a tense end-game. While Bassem felt he had taken the game, Haddouche defended resolutely while playing on increment for over 30 moves to finally pull off the draw with a knight sacrifice which was just in time to secure the draw.
Going into the third round, GM Slim Belkhodja would have been feeling the heat at the bottom of the table, but was unable to do anything about the situation, as GM Haddouche piled the pain on him with a crushing win. This took Haddouche into the lead after GM Amin Bassem had to battle back from a seemingly losing position to force a three‑fold repetition against IM Andrew Kayonde.
The battle of the youngsters left IM David Silva aghast as he believed he would come out on top, but Fy had other plans and pulled out a devastating victory which effectively killed dinner for the Angolan wonder kid. IM Adu Oladapo came into the final round with his round 2 loss seemingly still on his mind. He pushed too hard for the win against GM Kenny Solomon and eventually lost his second straight game to the South African Grandmaster (who would not be participating at the forthcoming Batumi Chess Olympiad in Georgia).
The final game to end in this round, saw IM El Adnani Mokliss continue his excellent start as he recorded another clinical win over Uganda’s IM Arthur Ssegwanyi. Arthur fought hard but was unable to curtail the incoming train which smashed through and left him near the back of the pack as he enters the second day’s play.
The fourth round will start today at 3pm GMT, 4pm West African Time and 5pm CAT. And all those who would like to follow the games can do so via Chess24 and the Followchess website or mobile apps. Everyone can also follow the live commentary by Ben Simon and GM Robert Hungaski via the Saint Louis Chess Club YouTube channel
While the Africa Chess Media YouTube channel will also be launched within the day to allow for videos from the tournament venue.
We are indeed glad for the opportunity to cover this great vision of a tournament, and we hope to cover more as the year goes by.
Expect the report from day two tomorrow.