“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”
It was at around the 4th round, with opponents strewn about nursing bleeding mouths hit by lightning fast kicks (or were those punches) and monarchs laying on their side, that people stood up and took notice. The “Bruce Lee of African chess” as I call him had arrived. Unknown. Unrated. Underestimated. Leeroy Mpala of Zimbabwe had arrived.
Leeroy arrived into the arena of the u1700 rating section of the Africa Amateur Individual chess championship held in Windhoek, Namibia wearing a white belt. The tournament which recently ended on the 7th of January, 2019. On paper the young man did not even stand a chance of making it as he had no rating at all playing against already seasoned and rated combatants. It was necessary to play and prove himself in this field infested with rated players. He was one of 6 unrated players that battled it out against 13 rated players.
Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.
He started at a very high note when he won all his five games commanding a lead which was almost difficult to catch up with as he was the sole leader until round six when he lost when people thought that he was to finish with a perfect score. This loss brought his archrival closer who was a point behind. He however lost one game and drew one game finishing with 7.5 points coming out joint first but being the winner on tie-break rules.
This won him the right to represent Africa at the World Amateurs Chess tournament (considered by many to be the unofficial first Chess Olympiad, and is the only Olympiad that was an individual event) to be held in Mexico in April this year. Leeroy is officially the player representing us in the u1700 category after securing a spot to represent Africa with his fine win. With is achievement Leeroy becomes the second player in the last two successive years to represent Zimbabwe after Lawrence Tavagwisa who also won a gold medal at the tournament which was held in Zambia powered his way through the field to earn himself the spot.
Tavagwisa represented Zimbabwe well at the 2018 Amateurs in Cagliari, Italy and he won a silver medal at the highest stage in the u2000 category.
Leeroy is a product of the Willineta School of chess under the
guidance of Wilfred Sithole. The school of chess is based in Midlands and it is the first gold medal which a player from the academy which a player won in an international tournament. The player seemed to have gained some confidence from the African Schools Chess Individuals championships which were hosted in Harare, in 2017 at Rainbow Towers, and recently the International Junior chess tourney which was hosted by Limitless Minds Chess Academy under the auspices of FA Keenese Katisenge as well as the Botswana Chess Federation and the Olympic Committee who also came in support of the academy to ensure that a very fruitful tournament was hosted by Botswana.
The tournament was a springboard for the young man to showcase his talent with other U1700 rated chess players as they exchange their tactics as well as chess prowess in the tournament of a higher magnitude. Below are some games and photos of the young man. He won seven games, drew one, and lost one game to come up with a 7.5 points score out of the 9 games. This was a commendable effort from the young man.
It is another milestone achievement for Zimbabwe chess as the players are proving to the world that something positive will brew as we progress. The academies are proving to be powerful in the molding of chess powerhouses.