Trailing the announcement and letter received from the African Chess Confederation that they were unable to secure funds for the organization of the zonal under sixteen (16) team chess championship, which is meant to be the grassroots developmental event, to help budding young talents be nurtured and evolve into the brilliant players that would take over from the older generation (as currently being witnessed in the South African region), and for that reason, they (the ACC executives) would have to cancel the event.
The Zonal President, Mr Ameku Philip, understanding the importance of this youth event, rallied round his region and explained the situation to his member federations, to which they agreed to ensure it holds, in order to give these young kids, the exposure and the experience needed to face others out in the big world, who are fast developing into top players, taking the battle to the older generations and grabbing their victories by force from them.
A few federations agreed to participate and the zonal president agreed to waive some fees in other to accommodate as many federations as possible. But alas, only two (2) federations participated, being Nigeria and Ghana (who are the host).
Nigeria presented two (2) teams of mixed players of male and female, while Ghana presented five (5) teams also mixed, and the first round produced some very interesting results as the Nigeria Team A was placed on Bye, because of the odd number of teams registered for the event.
The round started with Nigeria Team B taking the battle to Ghana’s Team A, where the young and very promising Adaramaja Temitope (a girl who just came into the chess scene in 2017, but has been holding her own against top boys in her category), defeated Van Sneh on board 1, while on board 2, the unrated but sound Ogunyipe Olayemi Anthony spun off to a promising start to defeat Barnor Rebecca, as Chijioke, Iheanyichukwu Godswill claimed full point against Thakwani Raj in an interesting bout, and Anayo, Aladi Precious completed the routing of the Ghanaian youngsters in an interesting game, ending the match at a dominant 4 – 0.
Ghana’s Team C and Team D also had some fierce battle in the first round, as Abhinav Kopalle lost to the brilliant Sharma Rohan (a boy who had picked up a number of medals in this category in Ghana), Barnor Mary also lost to Mensah Rachael, only for both Allotey John and Rusquet Alexis to turn the table and earn the team a well fought out draw, with wins against Kpodzi, Enoch Nenyo and Vandyke Larry, in the first round of the tournament, ending the match at 2-2.
Ghana’s Team B proved too strong for the Team E, as they walloped their opponents in the opening round of the tournament. The trio of Daftary Malav, Aryiku Audrey and Varyani Naren, emerged victorious against Sedzorme, Roy Edudzi, Abladey Juliet and Thakkar Aarush respectively, while Eaga Rushikesh and Shunjay Joshan played out the only board draw of the round to end the match with a 3.5-0.5 score line.
The second round kicked off in interesting fashion, as the Ghana Team D had to go on Bye and Nigeria Team A had their first taste of the battle, going on a winning spree over the Ghana team D, but not without their own casualty on the last board. Okemakinde Toluwanimi started his dominance, as he swept aside Van Sneh on board 1, as Osadebe Michael Ikechukwu defeated Barnor Rebecca on board 2, and Suleiman Azumi Ayisha was victorious against Thakwani, Raj, while Ghana’s Norvi Isaac picked up an important win for the team against Adeyemi Ayomiposi, to end the round in a 3-1 victory for the Nigerian Team A.
Nigeria Team B continued their dominance as Adaramaja Temitope showed dominance to defeat Daftary Malav, the impressive Ogunyipe Olayemi Anthony continued with his strong start to the event as he defeated Aryiku Audrey, and Uchechi Nwadiuto Bernadine also finished victorious over Eaga Rushikesh, while Chijioke Iheanyichukwu Godswill lost to Ghana’s own Varyani Naren, ending the round with a 3-1 victory for the Nigerian Team B.
Ghana Team C and Team E fought an intense battle in this round, as the Team C ended victorious only by a well fought draw on the top board, which gave them a 2.5-1.5 victory. In a keenly contested match, team C’s Barnor Mary stood tall over Abladey Juliet, to pick up her first win at the event, while Thakkar Aarush got one for team E against Abhinav Kopalle in an important encounter, only for the board 1 game to finish a drawn game between Sedzorme, Roy Edudzi and Allotey John, which inadvertently tilted the match point towards Ghana Team C.
The third round had some changes in the teams as Nigeria Team A rested Adeyemi Ayomiposi for Garba-Jimba, Haliyah Titilope, while Bernadine was also rested in Nigeria Team B for Anayo, Aladi Precious, while Ghana Team B also rested Eaga Rushikesh for Sovereign, Joseph respectively, and the Ghana Team A was on Bye in the round.
Going into this round, Ghana’s Team D put up an inspired performance, as the trio of Sharma Rohan, Mensah Rachael and Kpodzi Enoch Nenyo, all finished their games victorious over their respective opponents, only for the sternly stubborn Shunjay Joshan to deny them maximum points by defeating Vandyke Larry on the 4th board to rescue a point and end the round match at 3-1.
Ghana’s Team B put up a spirited performance against Nigeria’s Team A, but had to bow to the superiority of the Nigerian youngsters, as Okemakinde Toluwanimi, Osadebe Michael Ikechukwu and Suleiman Azumi Aisha continued their dominant performances on their respective boards, defeating Daftary Mary, Aryiku Audrey and Varyani Naren respectively, as the new kid added to the fold, Garba-Jimba, Haliyah Titilope lost to the Team B substitute, Sovereign Joseph, to end the match 3-1 in favour of the Nigerian team.
The Nigerian Team B also dominated Ghana’s Team C during this round, as Adaramaja Temitope continued her solid performance at the event with a win over Rusquet Alexis, while Ogunyipe Olayemi Anthony continued his perfect record at the event with a victory over Barnor Mary, Chijioke Iheanyichukwu Godswill also defeated Allotey John, while substitute Anayo Aladi Precious lost to Abhinav Kopalle on the last board, to give another 3-1 score line.
The next round had both Nigerian teams hoping for victories, while Ghana’s Team E was on Bye, but the round proved that as long as you believe in yourself and put in the work, nothing would be impossible. The Ghana Team D were to face off against Nigeria Team B in this round, and the kids from Ghana played their hearts out, with accurate display to earn a draw off the Nigerians. Adaramaja Temitope continued her sterling display with yet another victory, as well as Ogunyipe Olayemi, but the third and fourth boards were to go to the Ghanaian team, as Kpodzi Enoch Neyo took the scalp of Chijioke Godswill and Vandyke Larry earned his victory song over Anayo Aladi Precious in cool fashion, to earn the Team D an all important 2-2 draw.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Team A strolled past Ghana’s Team C in ruthless fashion with Okemakinde Toluwanimi continuing his run of perfect score with a win over Rusquet Alexis, while Osadebe Ikechukwu defeated Barnor Mary without breaking a sweat, Suleiman Azumi left her stamp of authority on the Ghanaians as she also continued her perfect score at the event, but it was a tournament to forget (and one to learn from) for the young Adeyemi Ayomiposi, who lost yet again to Abhinav Kopalle, to hand the team a 3-1 win.
In the battle of the Ghanaian teams of the round, Ghana Team B took on Ghana Team E, and it was a massacre, as the Team B only left half a point for the Team E to hold on to. Aryiku Audrey, Eaga Rushikesh and Sovereign Joseph all claimed emphatic wins over their opponents, leaving only Varyani Naren who was unable to convert and had to settle for a draw on his board.
Nigeria showed that they are indeed the chess powerhouse of the zone as the Nigeria Team B claimed another 4-0 drubbing over Ghana’s Team E, while the Team A where still playing catch up with an easy 3-1 victory over Ghana’s Team D in a crucial duel, seeing that their team B counterpart would be going on Bye in the next round. While Ghana’s Team C served the Team A some sumptuous delicacies, handing them a 3-1 defeat at the end of the round.
In the penultimate round, Nigeria Team B was already tasting the trophy, even though they were on Bye for the round and had to sit the round out, but the Team A stood tall, taking maximum points (4-0) off Ghana’s Team E, to overtake them, going into the final round, as Ghana’s Team A finally got their first victory of the tournament with a 3-1 win over the Team D players, while Ghana’s Team B had to wait on the top board match between Daftary Malav and Rusquet Alexis (which eventually ended in a draw), to claim their victory over their counterparts in Team C.
During the final round, both Nigerian teams had to play against each other for the Trophy. Team A needed only a draw to claim victory, while Team B needed to win by just 1 point, but it was not to be, even though Ogunyipe Olayemi and Anayo Aladi Precious pulled off some impressive victories over their respective opponents, Okemakinde Toluwanimi and Suleiman Azumi Aisha got wins on their boards to secure the draw and the championship trophy.
At the end of the tournament, both Nigerian teams finished top 2.
Team A went home with the Championship Trophy + Gold Medals + Travel Grants to The World Youth Chess Championship + Computer Tablets for each member of the team
Second Position went home with Silver Medals + Chess Clocks for each member of the team
Third place finishers went home with Bronze Medals + Chess Set for each member
As consolation prizes, the best players in the 4th to 7th team go home with a chess clock apiece.
After the tournament play, the delegations were taking on an excursion to Kakum National Park, with breathtaking Canopy Walk Adventure for the participants. Pictures Below: