Over the past few years, the Africa Individual Chess Championship has been the heart of continental championships, but it did not have the numbers it has pulled in 2019.
Most of the championship have had in the region of thirty (30) participants taking part in the tournament, but it is totally different this year, as forty four (44) open and twenty two (22) female players have registered participation at the event in Tunisia, producing a total continental record of sixty six players (66) at the event.
This year, Africa has the biggest and strongest Individual Championship tournament to date and it is widely believed that this is because of the Arkady Dvorkovic’s administrative response to the plights of the continental events, apart from the fact that it is a World Cup Qualifying year, and the fact that the Tunisia Chess Federation has a long standing relationship with the ACC and Mr Lewis Ncube, who heads the continental chess industry.
These would be the biggest challenge for GM Amin Bassem till date in any AICC tournament he has participated in, despite being in the best form and rating of his career.
Being the highest rated player in Africa of all time and the huge favorite to win the championship, he obviously knows that all the players are coming for him and there is definitely no pushovers at the event, because anyone who would leave his country, spend over $2,000 to participate in such a glorious event would have done their homework and calculated that they have a shot at overcoming at this event, and Bassem must definitely be aware of that.
In the hunt for the title of Grandmaster, are several other players who have distinguished themselves for their various countries and would be bringing all the fire powers to this event and Africa Chess Media would be taking a look at a few of them who would be pushing the boundaries at this championship.
IM Arab Adlane (2479):
The rejuvenated veteran Algerian, who has been in the field for much longer than I have been a chess publicist. He is one player that always found a way to get under the skin of the Egyptians, who have always been the dominating force in the competition. He would definitely be hoping that this would be the one, where he picks up the GM title.
IM Fy Rakotomaharo (2419):
The brilliant kid from Madagascar, a country that has been dedicating funds to grow the young minds of which IM Fy is a product of. He won the Zonal Championship in spectacular fashion and would be hoping to overcome the fire power of the Northern Africans to become the 3rd Southern African to clinch the elusive Grandmaster title.
IM Andrew Kayonde (2382):
He is that African who overcomes the myth of getting married and play rubbish chess. The Zambian maestro has stood tall in the face of work, family, and chess administration, to sit atop the ratings in his country and even though he came close to clinching his Grandmaster title from the event a few years ago, he would be taking the pains of the just concluded Zambia Opens to Tunisia, with the hope of finally clinching the GM title.
IM Makoto Rodwell (2381):
The Zimbabwean Zambezi, who carried the team on his shoulders during the last Olympiad in Batumi, Georgia, and only lost two (2) games of eleven (11) rounds, to produce Zimbabwe’s best performance as a nation at a Chess Olympiad. He had given up on attaining the Grandmaster title, because of the funds required to travel around the globe in search for same, but has since rekindled his love and hunt for the title in recent years, which would pose a serious threat to the rule of the Northern men.
FM Munenga Douglas (2329):
Despite playing virtually every Zambian tournament, the solid FIDE Master has remained in the top 3 spots in the country’s ratings and has never looked back since breaking in. He is as tactical as he is solid and he has shown at several points (including some important games at the Olympiad) that he is no pushover and can not be underrated. He is definitely one to watch out for at the event, for the followers.
IM Adu Oladapo (2302):
The highest rated player in Nigeria, thanks to his victory at the Chess Player’s Association of Nigeria’s flagship event (C4), where he finished the tournament as joint 1st and racked up the needed points to the top against some equally strong players. He has been eyeing the title of Grandmaster for quite a while and would hope that this championship would see his best performance yet, which would see him top the chart at the end of the tournament and make him the very first Grandmaster in Western Africa.
IM Anwuli Daniel (2295):
The 22 year old Nigerian has seen the better side of ups and downs, and has seen his stock rise in recent months after clinching his International Master title with an impressive victory in a Nigerian infested Zone 4.4 Championship. The face of the #GoForANigerianGrandmaster initiative and the highest rated player of all time in the region. He would be hoping that Caissa smiles on him during this event and he finds his best moves to become hugely victorious at the end of the tournament and secure the Grandmaster title.
IM Balogun Oluwafemi (2279):
The simply sleek IM, who took the Nigerian Chess Industry by storm is one of those who have specialized the skill of maneuvering their pieces to suite their purposes and had the opportunity to play against World Champion GM Magnus Carlsen at the last Chess World Cup via the ticket from the Zonal Championship in 2017, and would be hoping he can do enough to pick up the ticket again this time, albeit, with the toughest challenge anyone in Africa would have to face.
Mulenga Prince Daniel:
The Zambian wonder, full of confidence, who showed the results of hard work at the just concluded Zambia Open by finishing joint 1st would also be in action at the event, and he would have to bring that form to this event if he truly wants to finish the tournament an IM or a Grandmaster, and he definitely will be keeping his eyes on the top prize. After choosing not to be called a CM when he bagged the title, he has set his sights on becoming Zambia’s second Grandmaster.
This is the event of a lifetime and one which any African chess player would be hoping to be a part of, not just to rub minds with the best of the best, but also to show that he has what it takes to go all the way to the top.
With several other players not shown in the above list, this is not to take anything away from them, their work or their purpose at the event, but to spur them to make us say much about them as they go ahead to make Africa proud of their games and go all the way.
Who would you tip to win this event ahead of GM Amin Bassem? Or has Bassem become the Carlsen of Africa?
Leave your comments below.