The second round of the Africa Individual Chess Championship was literally a Nigerian affair, as no Nigerian open player lost a game on the day and it is definitely a big boost for the push towards achieving the very first Grandmaster in the Western region.
The top two (2) boards were reserved on the day for the Egyptian maestros in GMs Amin Bassem and Ahmed Adly respectively, who both took care of business on the top boards without any hiccups.
The Zambians on boards 3 and 4 were unable to hold sway against their respective Grandmaster opponents, which saw them crumble under pressure and lose their games, looking forward to tomorrow. It happened to be a bad day in the office for the Zambians, as only IM Andrew Kayonde was able to pull off a win amongst the five (5) participants from the country, which might probably be chalked to fatigue from the just concluded Zambian Open.
The battle of the veteran IMs Adu Oladapo and Arab Adlane ended in a nail biting draw, which saw the Nigerian IM give a pawn for some form of activity, and recovered well to pick up a draw in the game.
The game of the round from my end was the game between two (2) of the youngest participants of the tournament, IM Anwuli Daniel of Nigeria against IM Fy Rakotomaharo of Madagascar, who both gave a sterling performance in their match up.
It was a familiar opening for the Nigerian IM and he entered the middlegame more comfortable than his Malagasy opponent with two (2) passers on the edge of the board, while his opponent had a passer in the center of the board, but he was unable to find the killer blow, which ensured the game end in a very interesting draw.
IM Balogun Oluwafemi of Nigeria played a simple King’s Indian Attack against the solid IM Zaibi Amir of Tunisia, who responded with the Sicillian, and while others were busy throwing the sword of the Bishop and the defense of the Rook, he strolled around the hall, checking on other games because his game was simple, which ended in a simple draw by agreement.
GM Hesham Abdelrahman did not know what hit him as FM Oragwu Chukwunonso came at him with the black pieces, showing no respect for the title of Grandmaster, but enforcing the rules of playing the board and not the man in one of the upsets of the day. It was quite interesting the way the Nigerian FM calmly overcame the attack and pump of the Egyptian, while creating a counter attack that left him with two (2) queenside pawns too devastating to play against.
Apart from the above upset, the biggest upset has to be the defeat handed down on the explosive Prince Daniel Mulenga in a standard King’s Indian Defense opening against 1. d4, with the Zambian playing the game as though he wanted to finish the game quickly, underrating his opponent and falling thereby. Sasha Winston of Nigeria took everything in his stride and was cool as he noticed he had the edge, which he converted with utmost accuracy.
And on the last board, Eritrea’s sole representative, ELO 1781 rated Kibrom Welgebriel Beraki also dealt a huge blow to Chipanga Takaedza from Zimbabwe, who played a poor game, expecting the Eritrean to just roll over and lose, but it was not to be.
As the third round pairings are released, a match that has been long awaited is the one between Africa’s Egyptian numero uno, GM Amin Bassem against the young and talented Algerian GM Bellahcene Bilel, which for me would be the game of the round, as IM Fy Rakotomaharo would be facing IM Adu Oladapo in a rematch of last year’s demolition of the Nigerian at Cote D’Ivoire, would the Nigerian repay, roll over, or would there be a truce? And IM Arab Adlane takes on South Africa’s GM Solomon Kenny, who drew against his compatriot, FM Klaasen Calvin John in the second round of the tournament.
Other games of interest in the third round are that of Zambia’s IM Andrew Kayonde against Nigeria’s IM Balogun Oluwafemi, as well as Tunisia’s IM Zaibi Amir who takes on Nigeria’s IM Anwuli Daniel, and on board 11, where Angola’s young IM David Silva battles against Zimbabwe’s IM Rodwell Makoto.
The female section also had their share of upsets, which was highlighted by the draw on board 1, in a match that had Algeria’s WIM Nassr Lina (1982) hold WGM Wafa Shahenda (2175) to an unprecedented draw in a game that showed the work other ladies are putting in to get to the top in their respective countries.
It was a rout for WGM Wafa Shrook however, as she came out on top against WIM Elansary Eman of Egypt, as WFM Mwango Lorita (1931) showed what made her back to back Zambia Open female champion, as she defeated WIM Mezioud Amina of Algeria to keep her dream of becoming the next WGM of the southern zone.
The third round now presents the Zambian WFM against yet another Algerian in WIM Latreche Sabrina who would be looking to avenge her compatriot, while the Zambian would be looking to do a double against the Algerians and start facing the Egyptians.
Now it is understood that no one came to this event to just roll over. Every single point has to be earned by quality play on board and showing the workings that ensures victory or draw at the least.
And with seven (7) more rounds to go, it is a very good time to come to this realization at a tournament of this magnitude.
Where would the upset of the round come from?
Do have your say in the comments section below.