A beautiful Friday it was in Abidjan, where the people looked beautiful, the locals7 happy to receive the French tourists, Magnus showed extreme class and the ECOWAS Rapid Challenge ended with Nigeria at the top of the log. AGAIN.
After a successful first day out, GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and the French crew took another day out to see another part of the city, and boy did he like what he saw. It is easier for the French to blend into the system, considering the fact that the country is a French speaking one and helping locals succeed is one of the hallmarks of the Grand Chess Tour.
THE ECOWAS RAPID CHESS CHALLENGE:
After a tupsy turvy first day for the Nigerian teams on day 1 of their event, they came out full blown on day 2 but they were also met by some resolute guys, who would not go down without a fight, and what a fight it was, over the board.
With four (4) rounds to be played on the day, the event started earlier than day 1 and the Nigerian teams were not looking to take any prisoners as the Team A and Team B dealt with their respective opponents with 5-0 thrashings apiece against CIV Team B and Team D respectively.
Degondo also led the CIV Team A to victory, as they defeated Togo with a respectable score of 3.5-1.5, while the President of the Ghanaian Chess Association had to come to the board as a wildcard to rescue his team from being thrashed and helped secure the match point with a splendid win, for a 3-2 victory over CIV Team C.
The Nigerian Team A were playing with the Magnus effect because they were just crushing everything on their path, and they did it again in this round with another 5-0 thumping of CIV Team D, on their way to separating themselves from the lot. It was a struggle, however, for the Nigeria Team B as Ghana brought the fight to them in a keenly contested match. The big upset of the round came, with Aduamah David securing an all important point against CM Adeyinka Adesina in superb fashion. This spurred the others to push the Nigerians all the way, but for a rejuvenated AIM Obinna Ogbonnaya, who secured the match point for the team against the president of the Ghana federation, Ameku Philip to end with a 3-2 victory for the Nigerians.
Togo bounced back from their earlier defeat, to deal with CIV Team C strongly. Tchouka Yakini led the charge to battle and delivered his board, only for Ajavon Ayayi to miss some calculations and had to agree to a draw on the 2nd board, and Ballebako Kokou lose on the last board to Foua Aroll Junior, to end the match 3.5 -1.5 in favor of the Togolese.
Always going to be a tug of war between the top 2 Ivorienne teams, as they faced each other, as it was with the Nigerian teams, and the results were the same. Degondo was in charge of leading the top three (3) boards of Team A to victory, but he could not do anything to avert the destruction of his last 2 boards by Athe Maxime and Niamkey Elijah of the Team B.
With the loss to the A team still on their mind, CIV Team B were a moving train that only Ajavon Ayayi of Togo could overcome, with all the others trampled upon without mercy from the CIV Team B, to end with a 4-1 score line.
The CIV Team A continued their dominant showing against their own, as they walloped the Team D in a destructive manner. FM Simplice Degondo continued his impressive performance at the event with another victory that spurred his charges to go on a winning spree against their Team D opponents, with only Amako Marc Arnold coming through with a victory for the Team D, in a 4-1 demolition.
Nigeria Team A continued to show why they are the A team at the event, with another superlative performance in this round against Ghana. The defeat to Nigeria was expected, but the fine light of it was the draw on board 1, where Ahnwere Bernard (ELO 1797) fought IM Balogun Oluwafemi (ELO 2217) to a standstill and they both agreed to a draw at the end. This ensured that the Nigerians are halted in their 5-0 march, and could only secure 4.5-0.5 against the Ghanaians.
The Nigeria Team B had to suffer yet again, and yet again, wait on the AIM Obinna Ogbonnaya to save their blushes against CIV Team C. It seemed that the land has been kind to the ladies in the Nigerian team and they were giving back through blunders in their games against the Ivoriennes, and had to wait on the men to pull off wins, for the team to come out victorious in the round.
By the final round of the event, Nigeria Team A were by far ahead of everyone else in game points and like Carlsen, they were not looking to stop winning because they already “won”, but went all out to claim victory on all their five (5) boards, against CIV Team C, who could not understand what hit them.
The Nigeria Team B finally got their act together and showed class against the Togolese, who were still mourning their last loss, only to be hit by yet another 4.5-0.5, with Amewounou Komlan securing the only draw for the team against Suleiman Azumi.
It was a tough battle between Ghana and CIV Team A, where both Degondo and Ameku secured victories for their respective teams on board 1 and 5. This meant the battle was going to be won or lost “in the middlegame”, and at the end, with a draw on board 2, victories for either teams on board 3 and 4, the draw between both teams was sealedat 2.5-2.5.
CIV Team B needed a win in this round to secure their position on the log, and they did that just fine, with huge victories for Kounan Didier and Athe Maxime, while other games ended in hard fought draws. This victory ensured the CIV Team B finished 4th on the log, ahead of Togo.
The final standings are below:
Final Rank Table