With a total number of fifty four (54) registered opens players, being the highest number recorded in an African zonal championship, it is obvious that, even without a Grandmaster title, West African chess players will go the full length, to show their love for the game of chess, which is being encouraged by the Fide Zone 4.4 President, Mr Philip Ameku, who also happens to be the president of the host nation.
Today, the 21st of April, marks the beginning of the zonal championships and the hope of the female section finally holding their own event came through, and ladies from five (5) federations are now participating at the zonal chess championship, which would see the Zone 4.4 finally confer the very first Woman International Master on one of her members.
It also came to the attention of Africa Chess Media, that the 2019 edition of the Zone 4.4 event would not be a World Cup qualifying event and neither would it be a title giving event, even though it was advertised as such.However, according to Mr Philip Ameku, during the opening remarks, he read a letter sent to him by the Fide President, which states that the zone is hosting a World Cup qualifier and with this in the mind of the players, they are ready to give it their all to claim victory and glory at the event.
The 2019 Zone 4.4 Individual Chess Championship is proving to be the strongest, fiercest and the most competitive event in the western region since its inception, and it would be interesting to see who is eventually crowned the Zone 4.4 Champion for 2019.
The first round started with some early victories for the top players, which included Nigeria’s Abdulrahman Abdulraheem Akintoye (AAA), Ajibola Olanrewaju (Papa), FM Anwuli Daniel, IM Anquandah Francis just to mention a few. While these guys had a straightforward round 1, a few others had to work very hard for their win (the hallmark of successful people), IM Adu Oladapo was pinned down by Oyama Ekok for a few long minutes, before letting the rope loose and the IM did not slack in driving home the point. The game between Ghana based Nigerian, Onokpite Kennedy, whose game was the last to end, as he had to grind a win out of the position that his opponent would have thought he had at least a chance for a draw was another tussle for the day. CM Atabor Job
In another all Nigerian match up in Round 1, Nigerian Police sponsored CM Atabor Job came out victorious in a Carlsenic manner, as he was able to grind out a win in a position that most people would have considered a draw, against unrated Abuja based Sasha, who would be understanding that there is no friendship in a tournament as massive as this, but would most likely show his prospects as the tournament goes on.
In search for the upset of the round, with all top players picking up victories in the first round, we had to go way down to board 24, where one of Ghana’s pride, CM Mensah Joseph Jamena, was gunned down in the first round, by Cote D’Ivoire’s unrated Kone Daouda, when Jamena underrated his opponent and wanted to attack without cause, only to find his queen lost and the game over. It is believed that all the others would take a cue from this, but then, who know what preparation is being made right now for the next opponent!?
In the female section, the Nigerian female players went on a winning spree, as five (5) of the six (6) ladies, who played against Ghanaian opponents ended up victorious, with Charles Glory claiming the scalp of the Ghanaian top dog, WCM Felix Tobi. The sixth Nigerian, however, lost to De Souza from Togo on board eight, which would have made it almost impossible for Nigerians not to meet in the second round. The good news for Ghana Chess Federation, is that the wonder girl, Maud Benson, continues to shine, as she defeated her Liberian counterpart in Thompson Teta.
With two (2) games to play tomorrow, round two (2) pairings are out on the chess-results server – http://chess-results.com/tnr429713.aspx?lan=1&art=2&rd=2&turdet=YES&flag=30 (Male), and http://chess-results.com/tnr433613.aspx?lan=1&art=2&rd=2&turdet=YES&flag=30 (Female). The real battles kick off from this point for both the male and female contingents, and considering the fact that there are still eight (8) more rounds to go, every round counts and we will give our readers as much information on the tournament as we can get.