A journey of a thousand miles is started with one step.
Since the inception of the Harare Schools Chess Association a lot has happened in the development of chess in Zimbabwe. Chess ‘prodigies’ came to the limelight and chief among them, International Masters Robert Gwaze comes to mind. He became an International Master at the age of 15, becoming the youngest Zimbabwean to be an International Master after Kudzanai Mamombe who hailed from Masvingo. Kudzanai is a product of the Chess Association of Masvingo under the guidance of the great Mathematician Richard Knottenbelt, who was an as much an ardent chess Administrator as he was a coach of repute.
Back then Harare Schools Chess Association had Administrators like the late Willard Gadzira then Mr Eric Maunze, who was in charge of chess at Prince Edward School before Mr Cuthbert Bepe took over and left the reigns to Mr V Chimbamu who is now the current chairperson.
Sister Igna mentored the above leaders and for sure chess will never be the same since the inception of HASCA. Chess games were once adjudicated and we only had a few analogue clocks before the use of digital clocks. Whatever type of clocks we used as Harare the Province went on to dominate at National events boasting of producing the best players who went on to represent the National teams both senior and junior level.
Harare schools chess league will thus be following an interesting format in their league fixtures.
The league which is composed of six divisions will with effect from this year and will henceforth introduce a ladies division. In these Divisions ladies will battle it out on their own and this will be a first in the Zimbabwe Schools league chess format. The chess league has produced some prolific chess players of repute chess players in the mould of Doctor Arnold Kanengoni who is a FIDE Master as well as a Pastor, International Masters Rodwell Makoto, Farai Mandizha and Robert Gwaze. Some went on to become National Champions while they were still scholars and they were also playing in the Harare schools chess league. Chess players are churned each and every year in these games which are organised by Harare schools chess league.
The games are played in all the three terms and this year they start on the first of March that is when all fixtures will kick start and fireworks and eruptions are expected as the players start the chess season, which is full of potential and exciting games in store. Each division has eight teams defending champions Mufakose 2 High School will be fighting for honours
Against the likes of Mabvuku High school, Prince Edward, Goromonzi, Tafara 1 High School, Harare High School, St. Ignatius College, Highfield 2 High School. This completes the list of the participants’ in this year’s league in division one which is traditionally composed of the most challenging fixtures as the boys will be fighting over the checked board.
The ladies will be hoping that they defeat the much fancied Dominican Convent who are the powerhouse of ladies chess in Harare Schools and this promises to be a thrilling chess season.
The chairperson of the Association was very positive and opined that more is to come in this year as the motivation of the ladies who used to play against the boys teams all along. It is good that these are now paired against other girls teams asserted, St. Dominics Secondary School who did not hide his joy after hearing this news. In the ladies division schools like Harare Girls High school, Oriel Girls, Marlbereign Girls High, Mufakose 2 High School, are among those who will be having a maiden appearance in this league format.
We hope that this league will attract some sponsors who will ensure that this mind game is promoted as it encourages critical thinking skills, analytical skills, promotion of rational thinking and critiquing of decisions are some of the good reasons for learners to take this game. Schools should therefore start preparing for the 2019 chess season as the fixtures are also out and each team can plan well in advance for the visits or hosting of the chess fixtures.
This can also be a good ground for practising for the selection tournament which will be played on the 9th of March venue to be advised and these games will be selecting learners who will represent Harare Provincial chess team in Masvingo at Victoria High School where games are likely to take place from the 11th-15 of April,. This tournament will select players who will in turn represent the junior national teams at the African Schools and African Youth chess Championships respectively. So these prepare learners to be psychologically prepared as they will be playing some standard long games which will also be recorded as they will be playing.
The executive team hopes that if this game is played consistently competition as well as practice for the major tournaments will also be done properly as this mammoth task of preparing for the long games will be partly achieved.it is a step in the right as it tapes and nurtures talent among the young chess players. If all is done properly and systematically perfected Zimbabwe will have so many titled players as a result of the fruition of this programme. This should also be introduced to other cities and towns to ensure that a wide pool of young players are identified from primary level to secondary and reducing the gap of the senior players who have dominated in the Open section unlike the Ladies section. A new leaf will eventually be opened one day in the chess history of Zimbabwe if this model succeeds. Failure is not an option and success is within reach.