I have been following Africa Individual Chess Championships for a little while, and I can boldly say that this is the most interesting one ever! As at the end of round 7, it is still quite unclear as to who would go ahead to win it, and not because the Egyptians are not there in their numbers, but because every top dog is bringing their A-Game to the battlefield!
As predicted, board 1 had the most interesting game of the round, with the young chaps trading ideas and being careful until the 30th move when time was running out and the board was littered with opportunities for tactical variations, which IM Fy Rakotomaharo exploited to the best of his abilities. It was a very interesting endgame that needed enough time to calculate, which was unavailable, and the young Algerian GM Bilel would kick himself for playing 38. Nd5?? which ultimately led to his resignation after all the pieces were exchanged and it was obvious that the grandmaster’s king was too far to reach the pawns on the queenside of the board.
On board 2, one would have predicted a straight win for the numero uno of African Chess, but it was not to be, as the rejuvenated veteran Grandmaster Essam El Gindy held his countryman to a very impressive draw, using a variant of the Sicilian Dragon. Giving himself an outside chance of qualifying for the World Cup with two (2) victories of the remaining two (2) rounds.
Board 3 had GM Adly bully GM Fawzy in a game that showed the power of a Queen. Despite giving away three (3) of his officers for his opponent’s queen along with two pawns that created passers for him, GM Adly was able to show that keeping his opponent’s pieces disjointed is more than enough to break down the stronghold of the opponent and with that, win the game in special fashion.
After his loss to GM Bassem on a faithful Sunday, IM Arab Adlane got back to winning ways with an important victory over GM Hamdouchi Hicham on board 4. It was a game that had one sac after the other, just to gain both positional and space advantage, which was then used to maximum possibilities, to achieve a brilliant endgame finish for the Algerian IM.
GM Solomon Kenny continues his strong performance at this event, being one of only two (2) players to not have tasted a loss at the event. On board 5, it was the South African GM Kenny Solomon showing Algeria’s IM Oussedik Mahford how not to sac a piece and how to collect from an opponent without giving back. This lesson is one of the ideas the Algerian would take back home, because he would still feel he had something after his pawn giveaway on move 26, which gave the South African the opening he was looking for, and it was well exploited for maximum points.
IM Andrew Kayonde took the scalp of yet another Nigerian on board 6 after defeating IM Anwuli Daniel in a well open combat, where the Zambian chose his spots and showed dominance. Alongside this Zambian leader, was a huge show by the other Zambians, on a day that Zambia truly represented with no loss on the day. Both IM Chumfwa Stanley and FM Munenga Douglas ended their game in a draw, as Mulenga Prince Daniel claimed an important win over IM Silva David and CM Simutowe Musatwe made it a wrap for the Zambians with a win over Uganda’s Mande Allan Benjamin.
IM Makoto Rodwell also continued his winning streak as he dispatched IM Hbacha Achraf on board 7 to put himself within a point and a half of the leader of the pack, with two (2) rounds to go.
Of the Nigerians participating, only IM Balogun Oluwafemi has any outside shot of a top 5 finish, with his 7th round victory over Babaria Yacine, while every other Nigerian lost their chances to the top as they lost to their respective opponents.
The upsets of the day, apart from the victory on board 1 and the draw on board 2, it was the Nigerians that suffered the upset defeat in this round, as both FM Abdulrahman Abdulraheem Akintoye and FM Oragwu Chukwunonso lost to CM Bouzidi Ahmed and FM Simplice Degondo respectively. And the Eritrean CM Kibrom Weldegebriel Beraki handed a huge defeat to Somalia’s Isla Sh.Nour, Kassim on board 20.
The penultimate round is upon us and with a South vs North matchup in most of the games, our game of the day is none other than the battle on board 1 with GM Adly Ahmed taking on the pride of Madagascar IM Fy Rakotomaharo in a winner takes a huge step towards the championship trophy and for someone like Fy, the Grandmaster title! This would be an unmissable match as it is more like the finals before final and a lot would be riding on it.
Other interesting games of the round would include:
IM Arab Adlane taking on GM Bassem Amin on board 2, in a win or burst for the Algerian IM
GM Solomon Kenny battle the wounded GM Bellahcene Bilel on board 3
While GM Essam El Gindy also take on another southerner in IM Andrew Kayonde
IM Balogun Oluwafemi takes on GM Fawzy Adham in a bout that would make or mar either player.
And Prince Daniel Mulenga taking on IM Zaibi Amir on board 7 in a miraculous tournament for the Zambian who started with 0/3 before racking up four (4) straight wins.
In the female section, after going six (6) straight games with consecutive victories, WGM Wafa Shrook was held back a little by WIM Mezioud Amina. With her compatriot WIM Sabrina Latreche taking the advantage given to her to close the gap on the leader, by defeating Egypt’s WIM Moaataz Ayah on board 2.
Board 3 saw a third impressive result for the Algerian ladies, as WIM Nassr Lina recorded a victory the Nigerian lady would have felt hard done by, after a solid opening line that gave an advantage good enough to build on, but in one move under lack of concentration, everything came crashing on her head and it all went sour for the Nigerian pretty fast.
The penultimate round sees some interesting bouts in the female section, as it has now become a battle of Algeria and Egypt on board 1 and 2, with the Tunisians on board 5 and 6 and the Nigerians on boards 6 and 7.
The links remain the same for those that want to follow the games live.
We ask again, where would the upset come from in this round?
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