The strength of a player is best evidenced by the number of events he shows brilliance and earns victory in. And so is the way at the CIV Rapid and Blitz Invitational.
Day 4 allowed the Players to showcase their blitz strength is, as they finished the rapid event and could focus on the blitz segment. The result was a rejuvenated set of players with the most notable reversal being the re-incarnation of GM Slim Belkhodja. Slim showed the skills that earned him the GM title over a decade ago and recorded an impressive total of five and a half points from the nine on offer. IM Adu also claimed some very interesting victories to finish the day with a positive score after garnering a total of five points on the day.
The headline story of the day however was the overwhelming performance of GM Bassem Amin who simply kept blowing away everyone in his path away. Bassem ended the day with a haul of eight points and now leads the pack with what will surely prove to be an insurmountable advantage of seven(!) points.
Blitz Round 1:
Suffering from a troubling tummy, IM Adu had to brush through the first round of the blitz event and his game ended in less than two minutes. The Nigerian still had a few seconds over four minutes on the clock when he lost to the Angolan IM David Silva.
GM Slim Belkhodja had finally managed to stem the tide by winning his last rapid encounter at the end of day 3. He started day 4 with an impressive victory over the day one tournament leader, IM El Adnani Mokliss from Morocco, and began a renaissance of some sort in an attempt to work his way up the ladder.
GM Amin Bassem handled a distraught GM Mohamed Haddouche and ensured that he got the better of the Algerian in a game that was fully going for the Egyptian until his last capture of the knight on f1. This provided lee-way for a possible draw in time pressure but GM Haddouche did not see it and instead removed the bishop that allowed checkmate in one move.
IM Arthur Ssegwanyi, who had mentioned before the blitz battle that he was the slowest of the lot, came out victorious in the first round against the youngest player of the tournament, IM Fy Rakotomaharo. A missed check tactic forced a material loss as the time pressure came in at the right time for the Ugandan.
GM Kenny Solomon showed speed and technical positional understanding to ensure victory over the Zambian Chess Lord, IM Andrew Kayonde.
With no player taking prisoners, the second round of the blitz tournament went in almost the exact opposite of the first round. Round 1 had seen three wins with the black pieces and two with the white, while round 2 had three wins with the white pieces and two with the black.
IM Fy Rakotomaharo made up for his earlier loss by defeating IM Andrew Kayonde, as GM Kenny Solomon stood proudly over his win against IM David Silva. GM Amin Bassem got the better of IM Arthur Ssegwanyi, and GM Haddouche was victorious over IM Mokliss. IM Adu Oladapo also got one for the IMs, as he was able to defeat GM Slim Belkhodja in an interesting encounter.
This round produced a second loss in a row for GM Slim Belkhodja who lost to IM David Silva, even as IM Adu Oladapo continued his resurgence against GM Haddouche. Adu therefore picked up his second win on the bounce at the tournament. IM El Adnani also got his first blitz victory as he defeated IM Arthur Ssegwanyi in a French opening transposition, which eventually gave black an endgame with an extra knight.
GM Amin Bassem proved too strong for IM Andrew Kayonde and GM Kenny Solomon proved the same against IM Fy Rakotomaharo as both continued their impressive start to the blitz portion of the tournament.
The first draw of the entire blitz tournament came in this round when IM David Silva and IM Fy Rakotomaharo settled for the threefold repetition. This was forced by IM David seeing that if he stopped, he would face mate on the next move.
With another draw on the cards, a slip of a piece placement forced IM Arthur Ssegwanyi to endure a painful defeat against IM Adu Oladapo. While delivering a series of checks that would doubtless have resulted in a draw he inadvertently put the queen on the wrong square in a mistake reminiscent of the Anand error against Grishuck at the Leuven GCT Tournament. Adu did not miss his chance however and immediately delivered his own checking sequence which ended in mate.
IM Andrew Kayonde finally got his first blitz victory against IM El Adnani Mokliss in an interesting battle that had the Moroccan’s pieces controlling unimportant squares and files, while Kayonde’s where in the right places doing their jobs brilliantly.
The battle for the title of best blitzer was on in this round as GM Kenny Solomon took on GM Amin Bassem with both having full points in the blitz event at the start of the game. It was always going to be a cracker and did not disappoint.
GM Amin Bassem came out on top though and showed why he is unquestionably the top dog as far as Africa is concerned at the moment. GM Slim Belkhodja also picked up another important victory against GM Mohamed Haddouche to keep pace with IM Adu of Nigeria.
By Round 9:
Fast forward to round nine and GM Bassem had racked up seven and a half points out of a total of eight games. His final round game with GM Slim Belkhodja ended in only his second draw and he ended the first half of the blitz tournament with a whooping eight points out of the possible nine.
He was followed by GM Kenny Solomon, who was able to rack up five and a half points before the last round of the day, which he duly won to keep his hopes of second place alive. He ended with six and a half points to bring himself level with GM Haddouche entering in second place at the end of the day.
A tough day was had by IM Arthur Ssegwanyi who was only able to muster a meager one and a half points as a result of the troubled tummy.
Day two of the blitz event will also be the last day of the tournament and will see the trophy given to the champion of the event. The majority of the field are currently playing for second place or fighting not to finish last, with all hoping to display the fighting chess required to ensure that they are invited back to other initiatives like this in the future.
Attached below are the interviews for the top performing players after each day of the tournament:
Games start early on day 5 so tune in to Chess24 for the action from 1PM GMT.
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