On a day that had the world champion and a host of Super Grandmasters grace the continent of Africa to kick off the historic Côte d’Ivoire Grand Chess Tour Rapid & Blitz event, at the 5* Pullman Hotel, in the city of Abidjan, the ECOWAS parallel event had to be shifted a day, which means that the event would kick off today, the 9th of May, 2019.
Having organized the opening ceremony with activities that included the Minichess CIV presentations, speech from the Côte d’Ivoire Minister of Sports, the drawing of lots and the tournament pairing. CIV MiniChess Kids Presentation – Photo: Lennart Ootes / Grand Chess Tour™
It was sad to note that the secured venue for the parallel event had some issues, which did not allow the players stay there and made the venue of the event shifted to the Pullman Hotel. This brings the players closer to the Super Grandmasters.
After brunch, the players, organizers and arbiters met, and this ensured that everyone were abreast of the situation. The players and officials agreed to kick off the parallel event by 9am, Thursday, May 9, 2019, where they would play a Round Robin event of 7 rounds, with 4 rounds being played today and 3 games being played tomorrow.
The meeting ended and the players enjoyed playing blitz against each other as they waited for the main event to kick off by 5pm GMT. 4 countries were ably represented at this event, where the host country Côte d’Ivoire produced 4 teams of 5 players each, Nigeria produced 2 teams of 5 players each, Ghana and Togo also produced a team of 5 players each, which makes a total of 8 teams of 5 players participating at the ECOWAS parallel event.
THE MAIN EVENT:Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen taking on Grandmaster Wesley So – Photo: Lennart Ootes / Grand Chess Tour™
The main event kicked off with Magnus continuing his rebirth and seeming new year resolution to not lose a game and just play exceptional chess every time, as he started with a show of superiority against Wesley So. Carlsen showed the practicality of when the books talk about the rook on the 7th and demonstrated the superiority of the bishop against the knight in an open game. Hikaru showed Maxime Vachier-Lagrave why he is the 5-time US Champion by destroying the king of the Sicilian defence in his own turf, making a queenside castled king end the game on the kingside.
It was a sad day for the African representative playing in such a field for the first time. Bassem faced Ding Liren in the first round, on the white side of a Ruy Lopez opening line, and played well through the game, only to pay for underrating a passed pawn “which should have been kept under lock and key”. The pawn forcefully collected his bishop and from thence, it was seemingly game over, as Bassem did not have enough compensation for the endgame. Some people have said he would definitely finish last at this event, and even laughing his current position, but I say Africa would not end at the bottom this time around. Come on Bassem….play in your zone and show forth your best!
The remaining 2 games between Karjakin – Nepo and Topalov – Wei, ended in a hard fought draws.
Magnus continued his dominance in the second round against his old time foe, Nepo, brilliantly sacrificing 2 officers to get a second queen and went on to win the game with the minimal seconds remaining on the clock.
It was a battle of ideas and wildcards, as Bassem took on Wei, and both players threw some strong punches at each other, but it was Wei’s punches that would land the fatal finishing blow, which Bassem was unable to recover from. All other games in the round ended in unavoidable draws, where if one had tried to push for more, would probably eventually lose it.
The third round had three (3) draws yet again, and two (2) wins. It was Hikaru that would halt the winning streak of Magnus, as he does that proficiently in this round, not taking too many risks and forcing a three fold repetitive check in the face of a mate threat, was how Hikaru avoided a loss against the Champ.
Even though Maxime had a pawn ahead of Karjakin in their match, he had to force a draw, seeing how the Russian would enter to destroy his beautiful set up. In the third drawn game of the round, Nepo had virtually everything going for him, and only missed the fact that Topalov’s bishop move on the 38th was not just an exchange idea, but also a forceful draw plan, which could lead to checkmate, but could have been avoided with a simple e4 pawn giveaway in response to the move.
The two (2) decisive games of the round were the battle of the Chinese lords and the African – American fight. As I had always informed those who did not know, that Wei Yi is the King of Chinese chess (not just by assertion, but by winning the Chinese King Chess Championship in 2015 and 2016), before the event stopped. He showed that again in this round, as with precision, he cleared all doubts, by defeating Ding yet again.
Meanwhile, Wesley So got his first victory of the tournament at the expense of the African representative, Bassem Amin. It was a fight up until Bassem made the devastating 45. f3?? which ultimately led to his resignation.
Some Africans say Bassem is giving these guys too much respect, others say the field is too strong for him, while a few others say it is because of the Rapid (that he will do better in classical)……I say, it is only just three (3) rounds gone in the rapids and there are six (6) more rounds to go! Africa Chess Believes in YOU Bassem!! But what do you say?
Magnus Carlsen heads into day 2 atop the standings, being matched by Wei Yi and they both don’t meet until the final round of the Rapid event. Can the young maestro keep up with the seasoned genius? Have your say in the comments section below.
With the ECOWAS Team Invitational Championship kicking off today, below is the team composition from the four (4) countries being represented:
|1. CIV D (RtgAvg:1000 / TB1: 0 / TB2: 0) Captain: Amako Marc|
|1||Lago Guede Hermas||0||CIV||20802668||0,0||0|
|2||Sialou konan Sylvan||0||CIV||20800967||0,0||0|
|3||Amako Marc Arnold||0||CIV||20802676||0,0||0|
|4||Kouame Yao Ange Donald Walter||0||CIV||20802412||0,0||0|
|2. Ghana (RtgAvg:1609 / TB1: 0 / TB2: 0) Captain: FA Christiana Ashley|
|2||Aduamah David Kofi||1703||GHA||12601381||0,0||0|
|3||CM||Attah Elikem Kofi||1750||GHA||12600318||0,0||0|
|4||WFM||Ayiku Angela Naa Amerley||1496||GHA||12600423||0,0||0|
|5||Ashley Christiana Naa Merley||1299||GHA||12600474||0,0||0|
|3. CIV C (RtgAvg:1150 / TB1: 0 / TB2: 0) Captain: Nguessan Armand|
|1||Segoulin Christian Bernard||1750||CIV||20800363||0,0||0|
|2||Nguessan Awahy Armand||0||CIV||20800452||0,0||0|
|3||Menan Kouame Caleb Junior||0||CIV||20800738||0,0||0|
|5||Foua Aroll Junior||0||CIV||20801319||0,0||0|
|4. Nigeria B (RtgAvg:1780 / TB1: 0 / TB2: 0) Captain: IA Obinna Ogbonnaya|
|3||Suleiman Azumi Ayisha||1750||NGR||8510504||0,0||0|
|5. Nigeria A (RtgAvg:1911 / TB1: 0 / TB2: 0) Captain: IM Oluwafemi Balogun|
|2||Abdulraheem Abdulrahman Akintoye||2219||NGR||8504563||0,0||0|
|6. CIV A (RtgAvg:1214 / TB1: 0 / TB2: 0) Captain: Letsara Nirina|
|1||FM||Degondo Simplice Armel||2070||CIV||14306310||0,0||0|
|2||Letsara Nirina Harijaona||0||CIV||13100505||0,0||0|
|4||Kouassi Raoul Golly||0||CIV||20800177||0,0||0|
|7. CIV B (RtgAvg:1376 / TB1: 0 / TB2: 0) Captain: Esso Ulrich|
|5||Niamkey Elijah Pharell||1707||CIV||20800223||0,0||0|
|8. Togo (RtgAvg:1262 / TB1: 0 / TB2: 0) Captain: Komlan Kouessan Amewounou|
|2||Ajavon Ayayi Jean Le Clair||1520||TOG||21200394||0,0||0|
|3||Amewounou Komlan Kouessan||1788||TOG||21200017||0,0||0|
|4||Etey Yaovi Agusto||0||TOG||21201021||0,0||0|
|5||Ballebako Kokou Difendramakada Jacques||0||TOG||21201390||0,0||0|
It does look like two (2) strong Nigerian sides, right!? Which team would you say will win the event at the end of the day?