Shortly after the announcement of the increment of the African continental zones from four (4) to five (5), Ghana (who had won the bid to host the zonal tournament for the Western region of Africa), made a few announcements about the 2019 Zone 4.4 event, which is set to hold in just about a week before the Grand Chess Tour opener at Côte d’Ivoire, and a few of those announcements would be highlighted in this article.
Grandmaster Maurice Ashley in his youth
Grandmaster Maurice Ashley to Visit Ghana: It is no longer breaking news to a number of African chess players, that Grandmaster Maurice Ashley (the very first Black Grandmaster in the world) will be visiting Africa for the Grand Chess Tour, but it is quite interesting that he would be in Africa for about a week before the event, and he has chosen to spend some time in the Gold City of Ghana. During his time in Accra, he would play a simultaneous exhibition against some of a selection of the Ghana players Under the age of 18, before they kick off the zonal championship, follow the games and be the guest of honour at the closing ceremony. Who knows, maybe he can decide to support anyone who does well against him for an event away from the continent, just like Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura, or choose to give some other form of support to the Ghanaians (especially with Nigeria pushing for the Go For A Nigerian Chess Grandmaster project). It would be quite interesting to see what comes out of the exhibition games.
Apart from the exhibition, it is also understood that GM Maurice Ashley would also give a training workshop, which is billed to help the growth and development of the Ghanaian Chess family. His coming to Ghana would undoubtedly help push the Ghana Chess Federation in the right path towards getting their first Grandmaster title.
Chess in School Instructor Title: Just recently, it was announced that along with the main event of the zone 4.4 Individual Chess Championships, Ghana is also planning to host a Chess in Schools seminar, which would confer on the participants the FIDE School Instructor Title, and this training seminar will be holding from the 22nd of April to the 27th of April, and the date is still subject to review. Teaching Chess in Schools and students in their homes has been one of the main areas that allows chess players to somewhat live on the game and this is an important title to have for those that do so. I do foresee a time where individuals would not be allowed to train in schools without this certificate, so why not get yours during this period at a meagerly sum of $20!?
The Main Event: This event would mark the birth of the very first Woman International Master in the zone (if all goes as planned). The zone 4.4 was fought for during the tenure of the immediate past Nigeria Chess Federation President (Retired) Deputy Inspector General of Police Sanni Mohammed and confirmed in 2014, shortly after the current president of the Federation Mr Lekan Adeyemi took the reins for his first tenure. Since this period, the zone has produced two (2) conferred International Masters from Ghana and Nigeria, while the third, an Ivorian, is held up because the new FIDE rules on rating and titles. But during this period, no lady has been able to attain the WIM title, mainly because they never met the five (5) country participating criteria of FIDE, which has deprived the zone of this title. It is quite sad that most of the Federation leaders in the zone need an incentive (as the one currently being put together by an hopeful Nigerian in Austin Apemiye) to make efforts in this regard, and
I sincerely hope that this would change going forward, that the federations will take it upon themselves to ensure that their ladies participate in the zonal events, with as much financial support as they can give the them.
As far as I am concerned, continental events are meant to be prestigious, with companies jostling for who to sponsor the events, because we have such in other sports. How does this happen? By giving the organisations what they need.
Publicity is the least of what companies need these days, they have company goals and yearly objectives, find out what they are, present to them how you can gear them towards it, and you would be surprised at how much financial support you would get from them. This is Chess: The Brain Game! It is time to get the brilliant minds and everyone working together for the growth and development of the sport on our continent, so that we can speedily try to meet up to the rest of the world!
Arise Africa!! Arise!!