Day 4 of the Africa Individual Chess Championship was so intense and awesome to follow, filled with a lot of emotions and drive but for the players, it was a huge battle for glory and not falling behind.
Board 1 had one of the toughest battles of the round with GM Adly Ahmed defending the pride of the Egyptian people, while GM Bellahcene Bilel was ripe from his victory over the pride of Africa. GM Adly opened with the King’s Indian Attack and quickly ensured the exchange of pieces in the middlegame, which left them with minor pieces going into the endgame, a field where the Egyptian could outmaneuver his opponent and which he did with great precision, to restore the pride on the motherland.
On board 2, it was sac after sac as both IM Andrew Kayonde and IM Fy Rakotomaharo shared the spoils of battle in a brilliantly contested war on the chess board. IM Fy stole a pawn with a brilliant queen and knight combination, only for him to yet sac his rook on IM Kayonde’s knight so as to gain two (2) connected passed pawns. But then, IM Kayonde showed why he is the 6 time Zambia National Champion when he also gave back the rook in brilliant fashion in other to create his own passer too. At the end of the game, both players could not progress with both kings in the center and they agreed to a well fought draw.
It was a battle of ideas on board 3, as GM Amin Bassem fought for his life in a game that saw him heave a sigh of relieve after his opponent lost. It was a fight to be remembered and one that shows that the difference between top players in Africa is not as much as some think it to be, but for those little details that derail the fold. It was one sac after the other to complicate matters well enough for his opponent to lose trail of what he was fighting for, as GM Bassem employed the King’s Indian Defense in his bid to keep up with the leaders, and successfully so.
One of the hardest things to do in a tournament of this magnitude and strength is picking up important points against higher rated and titled opponents, and this was exemplified in IM Anwuli Daniel’s game against GM Hamdouchi Hicham. The young Nigerian tried to get out of theory in the early moves of the opening and eventually got burned by the fire he was brewing. He attacked well with the white pieces, but the attacks were well refuted by the grandmaster, who after the refutation, showed the error in the attack and thereby converting for an important victory, which sees him climb back to join the leaders.
FM Degondo Simplice Armel played quite well against IM Arab Adlane, only to self destruct. The Ivorienne spent about twelve (12) minutes to think about his 15. g5?! move, which eventually made him go a pawn down, which could not be recovered, and the Algerian veteran worked on his opponent’s errors after receiving another pawn on the b-file, which put him on the path to victory and it was all but over. The game ended quickly with a checkmate in sight within the hour.
With his victory over GM El Gindy Essam on day 3, FM Amdouni Zoubaier took on South Africa’s GM Solomon Kenny, who ensured that he did not fall prey to the Tunisian’s tactics, with both players trading ideas in strategy and space understanding. Seeing both players could not outwit the other, they called a truce and agreed to live to fight another day, in a mutually agreed draw.
The upset of the round came on board 11, where FM Douissa Oussama stood tall against GM Hesham Abdelrahman, who seems to be having one of his worst starts to an AICC tournament. The Tunisian was glad to have picked up the full point, seeing how GM Bassem wriggled out of the clutches of IM Chumfwa Stanley on board 3, and he was able to convert on his own board.
And just on the next board, it was going to be a Nigerian that would enjoy the upset tag, as FM Oragwu Chukwunonso was the beneficiary of a miscalculation by IM Rodwell Makoto, after the latter felt he had the middlegame sorted out and should have a routine victory, only to be undone by a lone pawn. The pawn which the Zimbabwean rejected, became the destroyer of his well oiled plan, as you would see in the game below:
Eritrean international CM Kibrom Weldegebriel Beraki is not done with upsetting opponents at this tournament, as he did it again in the 4th round, and this time, against Nigeria’s FM Abdulrahman Abdulraheem Akintoye, who happens to also be having one of his worst tournaments in recent years, as he participates in his maiden AICC event.
While Sasha Winston-Onyiah becomes 1.5/2 against his Zambian opponents, as he picked up an important draw against CM Simutowe Musatwe in grueling fashion to deny the Zambian a victory.
Day 5 would be even more interesting, seeing the battle of the day on board 3, with Zambia’s top gun getting his opportunity to test his wits against that of the Algerian wonderkid, GM Bellahcene Bilel who lost his first tournament game on African soil on day 4 of the AICC.
Other games to look out for are as follows:
The battle for the Egyptian dynasty on board 1, with GM Amin Bassem taking on GM Adly Ahmed
Another veteran vs youngster pits GM Hamdouchi Hicham against GM Fawzy Adham on board 2
IM Fy Rakotomaharo takes on GM Solomon Kenny on board 5, with both players having unfinished business from Cote D’Ivoire last year.
And board 7 finds Nigeria’s most prolific striker at the tournament (as it is) CM Oragwu Chukwunonso take on Zambia’s deputy FM Munenga Douglas D
In the female section, WGM Wafa Shrook continued her dominance with another impressive victory over WIM Latreche Sabrina, while South Africa’s WIM Jesse February made it back to back wins in her bid for the WGM title as she defeated WIM Mezioud Amina in 21 moves.
Ofowino Toritsemuwa exchanged ideas with WIM Elansary Eman of Egypt in a game that looked better for the Nigerian at some point, but was eventually played into an interesting draw. Meanwhile, WFM Mwango Lorita was unable to avoid another defeat, as she fell into a well prepared line in the French defense, where attack was pouring in from both ends of the board. And WGM Wafa Shahenda got back to winning ways, as she defeated WCM Chihi Malek of Tunisia.
Round 5 presents some interesting bouts in the female section as well, as WFM Jesse February would be looking to cement her place in Africa with a positive result against WGM Wafa Shrook in today’s game, as Ofowino Toritsemuwa would also be hoping to find the right moves to get a good result against the second seeded WGM Wafa Shahenda on board 3, and WFM Mwango Lorita would be hoping to get back to victory street, as she faces another tough test in Egypt’s WIM Moaataz Ayah on board 5.
Now the question beckons:
Where would our upset come from in this round?