The future of Zimbabwean chess is in the hands of the young chess players. The players who have been brought in from different societies, cascaded from different communities as well as districts and Provinces. Harare has been largely regarded to as the hub of Zimbabwean chess. This is so because of the perennial resurgence of many players of repute from the capital, even though more recently some players are now starting to come from other provinces but mainly, the capital has been instrumental in the churning out of many talented chess players.
Robert Gwaze came from Glen Norah, a high density suburb in Harare and went on to become Zimbabwe’s youngest International Master at the age of 15. He came from the Glen Norah Gunners Academy, which also helped bring to prominence players like Tinashe Tafira, Anorld Huruva, Bismarck Bhobhojani and Candidate Master Spencer Masango.
A niggling question on the contemporary Zimbabwean chess players, when compared to the former greats is, are they ever going to match or even surpass them? A breed of young players are surfacing and among them there are a few players to be looked at with keen interest, who have a lot of potential in the game; these are Tinaye Madamombe, Anotidaishe Madamombe, Tawananyasha Mawire and Tanaka Chikwavaire. These are youngsters brimming with potential, who can do a lot in and for the game of chess if given the exposure as well as the necessary resources to use, for their development to take place unhindered. They can go places. Their ages speak volumes, hence the reason for the nurturing of the talents, which they have to enable for a better chess future in the country.
Siblings Tinaye Madamombe and Anotidaishe Madamombe, who started playing the game of chess at very tender ages have already traveled to different parts of the world through chess, extensively taking part in different international tournaments, some as far as Greece. Even though they only started learning the game from kindergarten, they have continued to grow to great heights.
On the local scene at Easter Open of 2016, Tinaye Madamombe was the second best under 12 player while he was only aged 7. John Chibvuri of the Glen Norah Knights Chess Academy opined then that, “Tinaye played very well and his tactical ability is brilliantly displayed on the board.” Tinaye also took part in the African Youth Chess Championships, which were held in Port Elizabeth, South Africa in 2016, The African Schools Individuals Chess Championships held in Botswana, The Botswana Open 2017.
The player also played at the Capablanca Memorial chess tournament, hosted in Pretoria, South Africa. Kenya hosted the African Youth Chess Championships sometime in 2018, which he also took part in and this exposure saw him defeating some of the rated players at the event. In the process, he amassed some rating points, which are very crucial in the development of a chess player. He also took part in the World Schools chess championship, hosted by Romania and took place from the 22nd to the 30th of April 2017.
The siblings were together in this tournament, as well as Woman Candidate Master (at the time) Refiloe Mudodo, who is now a Woman FIDE Master and Zimbabwe’s youngest WFM at the age of 14. This was one of the world‘s biggest tournament, in which they and more than 50 country federations took part in this chess fiesta. Tinaye is the National defending champion of the under 10 boys’ category, from a Primary Learners tournament which was held in Plumtree last year. He finished that tournament with 6.5/7 points. He will be out to defend the title sometime in July this year at a tournament to be hosted by Mashonaland West, in Bindura.
Anotida Madamombe, is a young female chess player who is calm on the chess board and full of nerves of steel whenever she is playing her game. Many female giants have fallen prey to the tactical prowess of the young girl, who has now acquired a lot of experience, which she attained while playing for the nation at different tournaments regionally and internationally. At a tournament that was held in Kisumu in Kenya, she once led the pack and was ahead of Namibia’s WCM Hinda Otilile. She is currently ranked second in the whole of Africa in her age group. The young lady once surprised a 30 year old seasoned player at the Ambassador hotel. She played well and co-ordinated her pieces well, orchestrating a good combination which led to a checkmate.
There is a lot of potential for the Lendy Park Primary learner who is also good at her academics. She is able to balance her academics and sport. The attributes of chess are really being shown in the young girl and the boy, as they are well disciplined and calm, such that they execute their duties whole heartedly.
Tanaka Chikwavaire, a young lady who is a learner in Ruwa, which is located about 30 kilometers from the capital city of Harare, is another force to reckon with when it comes to the game of chess. The 12 year old has surprised many chess players in the country. Among her culprits, is the seasoned player Linda Shaba who fell prey to the brilliance of the player. She is very calm, composed and relaxed when playing her game. She surprised many players when she was among the big winners during the Zimbabwe Ladies Open chess tournament. The young crop of girls will for sure make up the Olympiad chess team for the ladies one day.
The players in the mold of Woman FIDE Master Refiloe Mudodo, Woman Candidate Master Rumbidzai Mawire, WCM Makanaka Chiwara and Tanaka Chikwavaire, will one day make up the Olympiad team in their teenage years if they continue upping and developing their game. She however needs some international exposure and training, so that her talent is tapped into and the real talent in her is brought out for all to see.
Tawananyasha Mawire of Avondale Primary School and the Young Chess Masters Academy is one of the under 10 players who is also capable of causing some upsets. He is fearless and very tactical. His attacking prowess is of considerable ability. The young man can sacrifice pieces without any fear. He played in the Francis Town Easter Open chess tournament in the under 14 category and performed well above fifty percent performance. His performance at the African Schools Chess Championships, which were hosted by Zimbabwe at the Rainbow Towers was above average and there is certainly more to come from the young player if he continues playing in highly rated tournaments or the junior tournaments, which are rated. These can help improve the player’s rating and experience remarkably.
The above players need some good sponsorship to ensure that their dreams are realized. There are some yearly events which are organized by FIDE worldwide starting with African Schools and African Youth which will this year be hosted by Uganda and Namibia respectively. Then there are also some world Cadets Chess Championships as well as the World Youth Chess Championships, which are beyond the reach of many because of financial constraints.
Should they get the necessary assistance, they can prove their worth and one who extends his or her hand in their assistance will not be disappointed. The future of Zimbabwe chess and the answers to the stagnation in development will only be answered when there is grassroots development.
Catch them young, so that we have more titled players just like International Master Robert Gwaze who became an IM at a tender age of 15. A great feat by African standards given his environment.
I believe Zimbabwe is destined for more years of success in the chess industry, as long as there is support for the junior chess development from Zones, Districts, Provinces and Nationally!