On a day that stole the unbeaten records from the only two (2) players left without a loss at the #AICC2019 event, and where the whole of the Zambian team was only afforded a draw, the grip on the top spot tightened and ensured that an Egyptian would be joint first at the end, except of course if something extremely extraordinary happens today, which the pundits very much doubt, WGM Wafa Shrook claimed the female championship with one round to spare.
It was a battle for supremacy on board 1, as GM Adly Ahmed took on the impressive Malagasy standout, IM Fy Rakotomaharo and Fy chose the Greunfeld defense as his tool to defend the land. And it held sway until he tried to make the second time control, which forced him to make some quick moves and play the defensive destroyer move 39…. Ba3?? Instead of the active 39…. Nb3!? Or the defense holding 39…. Rh5!? which would have kept the young Malagasy in the game for an interesting endgame. But the Egyptian rock house found the destructive continuation, sent the rook back to base on f8 with 40. Rf4! and ultimately accepted the resignation of Fy with his next move 41. Rc4! to remain at the top of the standings, half a point ahead of his countryman GM Bassem Amin.
On board 2, in a game that needed only twenty five (25) moves from Africa’s number 1 player, GM Bassem was unforgiving against IM Arab Adlane as the Egyptian used the King’s Indian Defense with great precision to defeat the Algerian in a win or burst match. IM Adlane hit the self destruct button when he played the unforced 21. f4? Move, which ultimately opened up the position for GM Amin to gain a decisive advantage, and the Algerian resigned four (4) moves after, seeing what he had used his own hands to do.
Board 3 had the most painful loss of the round, from the view of the South African GM Solomon Kenny, who had managed to go through the tournament unscathed until now. Holding on to the position against GM Bellahcene Bilel and setting up the position for the resulting endgame would have been on the Southern man’s head, as he missed the simple 23. Rxc6 move, which would have kept him holding the aces of the game, but instead, he went for the self destructive 23. Qb4? underestimating the power of connected knights, which eventually became his fall, seeing the superb way in which the young Algerian grandmaster continued from there, finishing in grand style.
It was a tournament defining round for IM Andrew Kayonde, but he met a refined GM Essam El Gindy, who has been super impressive since his loss to the Tunisian FM in round 3 of the tournament and who wants to give himself the opportunity to sneak into the top three (3) by the end of the tournament, which is today. Kayonde opened with the Caro Khan, but the Egyptian had the Karpovian attack prepared for him, with the brilliant Ng2-h3-f4! This is the revised continuation from Karpov’s 6. Nh3!? without pushing the h-pawn. IM Kayonde would not fall for the exchange of his dark squared bishop for El Gindy’s knight on f4, but after the Queen exchange on the 25th move, GM Elgindy’s king and pieces were better placed in the center for the battle that was coming. But then, it was not until his 33…. Ra5? Move, before the leaks in the position started to show and the GM utilized the leaks to earn the full point, with some interesting maneuvers.
It was down to IM Rodwell Makoto of Zimbabwe to deny another Northerner entrance into the top cadre and he did that in sublime fashion. It was an interesting King’s Indian Attack for the Zimbabwean, as he opened with intent to be positional and solid. His combination of the knight and his king in the endgame fazed out the Tunisian’s knight and inadvertently, delivered the game into the hands of the Zimbabwean strongman.
Just on the next board sat IM Balogun Oluwafemi of Nigeria, compounding issues for the young Egyptian grandmaster Fawzy Adham, as the Nigerian also used the King’s Indian Attack to great effect, even though the Egyptian tried to foil the position by choosing the old Sicilian defense to counter. However, it was the Nigerian that kept having advantage and throwing it away from move 17. Understanding what your plan is and sticking to it, is very important in the game of chess and in life, and this is exemplified in this game. The white knight in the center of the board should have been dealt with when the opportunity presented itself, but the Egyptian grandmaster went for the b-pawn instead and was burnt afterwards.
The Upset of the day kicked in on board 10, where Ivorian FM Degondo Simplice Armel dealt a huge blow to Zambia’s IM Chumfwa Stanley in a zonal battle, which saw the western region take the point on this one. This was followed by CM Ansumana Kamara’s victory over the tired IM David Silva on board 16, to show the strength in depth on the continent.
The final round has some very interesting fixtures going on as we publish this article and the winners on top boards would get themselves a share of the overall loot from the battle in Tunisia.
The game of the round is definitely on board 1, with board 2 coming extremely close to pipping the top board.
Board 1 has the battle of two rivals where GM Adly Ahmed takes on IM Rodwell Makoto for the Championship
Board 2 offers GM Bassem Amin fighting for both the Championship and a spot in the 2019 Chess World Cup as he faces the Malagasy IM Fy Rakotomaharo
For a spot in the top 5, both GM Bilel Bellahcene and GM Essam El Gindy battle it out on board 3
And both Westeros players, IM Balogun Oluwafemi and FM Degondo Simplice Armel, would be using the black pieces on boards 5 and 6 against FM Elarabi Abobker Mohamed and IM Oussedik Mahford respectively, who both defend the North.
WGM Wafa Shrook claimed the female section of the championship with a massive win over WIM Nassr Lina with an interesting opening choice that gave her opponent hope, only to snuff it out brilliantly and she never looked back afterwards. The massive pawn advantage on the king side ensured that the two (2) officers remaining on board for the Algerian had to pursue them, giving ample room and time for the Egyptian gem to create an endearing finish.
Meanwhile, WIM Latreche Sabrina could not overcome her opponent, Egypt’s Elansary Eman, who held sway and would not allow the Algerian pass through her in a difficult Scotch opening game, which had Sabrina hold the advantage for the most of the opening to the middle game, but eventually gave away the queen side pawn advantage due to mismanagement and she would kick herself for.
WIM Mezioud Amina was ruthless against WFM Ravelomanana Sabine, who chose the Trompowski set up for her opening, but fell into the labyrinth that follows after castling to the queen side and relocated the king back to the king side under immense attack, which eventually led to the loss of the queen and then the game.
As Egypt’s WIM Moaataz Ayah took WIM Jesse February to a place where you believe you had the advantage, where in two (2) moves, everything slips away and you are facing checkmate. WFM Mwango Lorita came back from giving up a major advantage to struggling to not lose her game, in the board 5 game of the penultimate round, which ended in a draw.
With the tournament won, WGM Wafa Shrook faces off against WFM Mwango Lorita on board 1 of the final round, as WGM Wafa Shahenda plays beside her victorious sister once again since the second round draw took her away, and she faces WIM Latreche Sabrina. WIM Moaataz Ayah is on the hunt as she faces WIM Mezioud Amina and Ofowino Toritsemuwa faces off against WIM Jesse February on board 6.
For the final game of the tournament, where would the upset come from in this round?