The final day of the CIV Rapid and Blitz Invitational saw some interesting turn of events as IM David Silva produced a brilliant performance on the final day to climb ahead of IM Mokliss El Adnani into 4th place (gaining about 100 blitz rating points in the process). He finished just behind the GM trio of Kenny Solomon, Mohamed Amine Haddouche, and of course the champion of the tournament, Bassem Amin, who finished at the top of the table, taking 3rd to 1st place respectively.
GM Slim Belkhodja also recovered well after the disappointment of the rapid event and he surprised many in the blitz as he was able to leapfrog both IM Adu Oladapo and IM Arthur Ssegwanyi to finally end in 8th place. Most would not have seen this coming after he ended well off the pace at the end of the Rapid tournament. He showed good grit however and a rejuvenated performance during the blitz event.
The final days play are unfolded as follows:
The tenth round started with a hard-fought draw between the top two seeds, while Arthur bounced back from the day 4 mishaps that befell him and recorded a nice win over the brilliant young Fy Rakotomaharo of Madagascar.
Both IM Adu and GM Belkhodja lost their opening games of the day, as IM Kayonde also dealt a big blow on GM Kenny Solomon.
Having started the day in a fierce battle for second place, GM Kenny was dealt a second consecutive blow by IM David Silva in this round. IM Andrew Kayonde played another very nice game and found a cool finish to an instructive game in the Grunfeld defense. The game had a nice and forceful end showing the power of the two powerful bishops against his opponent’s bishop and knight.
GM Haddouche was held to a second draw of the day against IM Mokliss El Adnani as GM Slim Belkhodja got on the board on day 2 with victory against IM Adu Oladapo. GM Bassem picked up yet another victory and found himself on the brink of being crowned champion of the strongest rapid and blitz event on the continent.
GM Kenny found himself in yet another battle in this round and he was again on the ropes before finally securing a draw against the IM Fy Rakotomaharo. IM David Silva continued his second day dominance and defeated GM Slim Belkhodja which took his tally to 3/3 for the day.
The rise of the 6-time Zambian National Champion was halted by GM Amin Bassem in this round, while GM Haddouche and IM Mokliss also came out victorious after the round. With his win against Andrew, Bassem mathematically secured the victory as he was now 7 points ahead with only 6 rounds remaining.
GM Kenny had had a tough start to the day and after starting with 0.5/3 he decided that desperate times called for desperate measures. He hurried up to his room and changed his shirt, determined to do something to reverse his fortunes.
It turned out to be an inspired decision as he became the first player in the entire event to defeat the African Champion in this round. He showed tenacity and doggedness to convert the well-earned point in what would prove to be one of the key matches of the final days play.
This is also the round where almost everyone with the white pieces found a way to win their games. Only GM Slim was able to steal a draw from GM Mohamed Haddouche, as he moved a full point ahead of IM Adu Oladapo, who was having a tough final day.
IM Fy put a stop to IM Silva’s run of wins, while Andrew picked up yet another win over Moroccan IM Mokliss. Mokliss and Andrew were both fighting for the minor places at this point in the tournament and the balance seemed to be tilting in the Zambian’s favor after this win. IM Arthur Ssegwanyi secured an important win to keep him just ahead of GM Slim at the lower portion of the table.
IM Adu secured his third consecutive win over Zambia’s champion as he crushed Andrew in an impressive game. GM Belkhodja also pulled off and interesting win over IM Arthur Ssegwanyi to close the gap to the Ugandan to only half a point. GM Haddouche dealt IM David Silva only his second loss of the day.
This strengthened his position in second place further as GM Kenny Solomon could only draw and watch his chase for second place slowly dwindle away. GM Bassem picked himself up from the loss against Kenny and defeated IM Fy.
Fast forwarding to the final round of the tournament and GM Amin Bassem had long closed out the tournament as the undoubted winner. He scored a total of 29 points out of the possible 36 even though he lost one other late game to IM El Adnani of Morocco.
Following in a distant second place was the Algerian GM Mohamed Amine Haddouche who will actually be getting married today Saturday, 4th of August, 2018! Haddouche played very well on the final day and scored 7.5/9 on the day to end the tournament with 24 points. He won his final five (5!) games in a row to secure what was eventually a very comfortable second place finish.
The stout South African GM Kenny Solomon ended third after fighting tooth and nail to come out clear third. He had a topsy-turvy finish to the tournament but his fighting spirit and a key final round win over IM Arthur saw him take the final podium position.
The young blitz phenomenon from Angola, IM David Silva, scored a whopping 6 points on the final day, and his strong finish saw him take overall second place in the blitz section. He earned over 100 blitz ELO points from this portion of the tournament and $2,000 for his 4th place finish.
The day 1 leader, IM Mokliss El Adnani, ended the tournament in fifth place, as he had a tougher time in the blitz portion. His accumulation of 8.5 points from the 18 games played was just enough to keep him ahead of IM Andrew Kayonde who ended 6th. Mokliss lost a key game against David in the penultimate round which effectively sealed his half point denial of fourth place.
In the bottom half, IM Adu finished in 10th place after a difficult second leg of the blitz section saw him lose 7 of the final 9 rounds. This rooted him to the bottom of the table. GM Slim Belkhodja leapfrogged both IM Adu Oladapo and IM Arthur Ssegwanyi to finish 8th on the log. His fight in the blitz proves why he was the third GM in Africa and he mentioned that he is better with the longer time controls these days as blitz is very much a young man’s sport.
At the end of the event, a trophy featuring the head of the great queen Nefertiti of Egypt was handed over to GM Amin Bassem. Each of the players held the trophy to understand the weight of what they had just missed.
The tournament was then closed with a gala dinner which will be fully reported on in our final article on the tournament. During his speech at the gala dinner, GM Bassem declared that the CIV Rapid and Blitz Invitational was by far the best tournament he has ever participated in on the African Continent. This is indeed high praise from a seasoned player of his caliber who has played in numerous continental events in a career that has already spanned more than two decades.
The level of organization and strength of play at the 2018 CIV Rapid and Blitz Invitational has set a new standard for Africa and the event can arguably be considered the strongest ever to have taken place on the African continent.
We at Africa Chess Media hope that this will be the first of many to come, as this would ensure the evolution of the sport to the great heights that we all dream of.
Gens Una Sumus Africa!