It was a big day for chess in Côte d’Ivoire Chess and Africa Chess on the day 2 of the Côte d’Ivoire Grand Chess Tour in Abidjan, as the day started with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and the French team going out of the venue to get acquainted with Côte d’Ivoire and her people.
Maxime played some interesting blitz games with the Ivorian top gun, FM Simplice Degondo, in the view of the people around. They had time to play some beach football, as well as talking about his experience in Cote D’Ivoire and chess generally.it was obvious that Maxime is glad to be here and would likely love to come back again.
ECOWAS PARALLEL EVENT:
The day went on to see the commencement of the ECOWAS Chess Challenge, which had four (4) countries, Nigeria, Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana and Togo, with eight (8) teams in participation. The teams include: Cote D’Ivoire A, Cote D’Ivoire B, Cote D’Ivoire C, Cote D’Ivoire D, Nigeria A, Nigeria B, Ghana and Togo.
At kick off, the two (2) Nigerian teams were put up against themselves and it was the battle of the fittest, as they were both trying to outwit themselves in the rapid event. The first game to finish in this round was that between the Nigerian ladies, where the speed of WIM (elect) Ofowino Toritsemuwa could not withstand the accuracy of Samson Peace, as classical seems to be more of her forte. Underestimating the strength and accuracy of her opponent was probably her undoing in the first round and she told herself to keep calm going forward. Even though on board 1, the Nigeria Team B got another victory, the team loss was inevitable after it was seen that the young 17 year old Okemakinde defeated AIM Obinna Ogbonnaya, where IM Adu Oladapo and FM (elect) Abdulrahman Abdulraheem Akintoye (AAA) made sweet meat of both Suleiman Azumi and FM (elect) Adeyinka Adesina respectively, as they lost to Nigeria Team A 2-3.
Togo came out victorious over the Ivorian Team D, as Amewounou Komlan led the charge of victories, picking up three (3) wins and Ajavon Ayayi was unfortunate to lead the losers for his team, defeating Ivorian Team D 3-2. Edoukou Ernest led the Ivorian Team B to a very important victory over Ghana in their match during the round, as they defeated Ghana 3.5-1.5.
When the Ivorian Team A met the Team C, it was all but a massacre, as FM Simplice Degondo led the charge of chess marauders into the camp of the Team C and showed them what it meant to be Elite chess players, as they bamboozled the Team C with a 5-0 thrashing, which they probably would not have expected.
Round 2 had Nigeria Team A showing the Togo team to the cleaners, as they gave them a 5-0 clean sweep, which made the Togolese wonder what made Nigeria this better than them, where Ofowino Toritsemuwa bounced back from her round 1 loss and the young Okemakinde defeated their elder!?
FM Simplice Degondo held his own against Nigeria’s IM Olape Bunmi, as he secured the only draw of the round for the team, where 17 year old Suleiman Azumi also claimed a win for the team.
The Team B and Team C were at it in this round, as they both gave their all to end the game tied. Edoukou Ernest was unable to get past Segoulin Bernard and they had to settle for a draw, while Nguessan Armand profited from prophylactic play by his opponent to come out victorious in the game.
Ghana went on to defeat Ivarian Team D with a 4-1 margin, which saw WFM Ayiku Angela become the only casualty for the Ghanaian team in the round.
The final round for the day (Round 3) kicked off like a Hurricane, as all the players fought tooth and nail for results in this round, and the effects were seen expressly.
Ajavon Ayayi kicked off the victory song for Togo against Ghana, defeating Aduamah David in an intense battle for supremacy between the two (2) nations. Ghana eventually lost the third round to Togo 2-3, and the FIDE Secretary General, Noel Fumey, would have one or two things to say about this, when he talks to his friend, the Zone 4.4 and Ghana President, Ameku Philip.
Ivorian Team D also pushed their Team C to the limits, with only 1 point separating them, with Segoulin Bernard leading the Team C to a successful 3-2 defeat of Team D.
As this was happening live, Nigeria’s Team B were also struggling against the Ivorian Team B, who secured victories in the last two (2) boards against Samson Peace and AIM Obinna Ogbonnaya, but were hard done by the top boards of the Nigerian team, which saw the trio of IM Olape Bunmi, CM Adeyinka Adesina and Suleiman Azumi, all victorious against their respective opponents.
When Nigeria Team A met the Ivorian Team A, it was bound to be war on the board, despite our relationship. The match point came to Nigeria, but not without a scalp being taken by none other than the Ivorian number 1, who crushed IM Balogun Oluwafemi in superb fashion, as the Nigerian confessed that he was seeing stars during the game. At the end of the match, it ended Nigeria Team A 4 – 1 Cote D’Ivoire Team A.
Today’s fixtures can be found on: http://chess-results.com/tnr433613.aspx?lan=1&art=3&rd=4&turdet=YES&flag=30
THE MAIN EVENT:
It is obvious that Magnus Carlsen is separating himself from the pack, and the way he does it, seems so effortless, that you wonder what is going on in his brain. But day 2 in Abidjan, was all about the African maestro, Amin Bassem, who heard the call of the African people and answered gallantly. In an interview with chess.com representatives, after the day’s games, Bassem said “Now I know I can play my game”. This is very important, and hopefully, it would help him to climb higher up after his games today.
It seemed the journey into the city and ghetto of Côte d’Ivoire made Maxime Vachier-Lagrave synchronize with the event, and he blew tournament co-leader, Wei Yi, off the trail, for his first win of the tournament. Bassem had a game to forget against Nepo, overlooking some basic principles he knows all too well, and resigning with after capturing an unnecessary bishop and allowing Nepo’s queen to get to the 7th. Carlsen and Hikaru were just brutal in this round, as they totally overrun both Karjakin and Topalov, respectively, on their way to the 5th round. While Wesley So and Ding Liren agreed to a draw after 37 moves and Rook + Pawn endings that mostly end in draws at their level of play.
In a round that favored the African in the ranks, Hikaru imagined that he would trample over Bassem, only to hit a brick wall, and not just any brick wall, this was one that would fight back and eventually defeating the 2nd highest rated Rapid player in the world. This pushed Carlsen ahead yet again, as he defeated Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in a game that moved from the kingside to the queenside, with attacks and counter-attacks, and ended with precision that could only be Magnus.
Ding picked up his 2nd win of the tournament, as he was able to outwit Nepo in a game that had fight written all over it, and would serve as a good lesson tool for trainers. Wei Yi – Wesley So and Topalov – Karjakin drew their games, to complete the rout for the round.
After his loss to Amin Bassem, Hikaru Nakamura was a man on a mission when he met Ding Liren in this round, as he utterly showed why he is number 2 in the world and a tactical genius; finishing off Ding in record time. While all other games ended in a hard fought draw. Yes, all games ended in a draw, including Karjakin – Bassem and Carlsen – Topalov.
In today’s games, the first round kicks off with Amin Bassem taking on Magnus Carlsen. Africa’s Number 1 vs World Number 1! It could not come any better and at a better time.
What say you? Win – Draw – Loss for Bassem today?