The second day of the chess event at the #AfricanGames was nothing short of super exciting with unseen checkmates, unexpected ones, planned ones and missed ones.
Egypt exerted dominance on their respective opponents, but not before falling to the Zimbabwean male players, with only the ladies rescuing the team from slumping to a defeat.
The 6th round of the team championship was heralded by losses to both top seed GM Adly Ahmed and GM Bassem Amin at the hands of IM Makoto Rodwell and untitled Mushore of Zimbabwe. Egypt had to rally with the ladies to secure a 2-2 draw from the first match of the day, which paved the way for a demolishing set of rounds afterwards. Even though IM Providence lost on top board for Botswana, it was WCM Refilwe who came through for the Bots, as they secured an all important 2-2 draw against Tunisia.
Meanwhile, Algeria closed the gap on the leaders with a very important but narrow win over Angola, where the young GM Bellahcene Bilel’s game on board 1 proved the difference of the two (2) sides, where all other games ended in a draw, as the match ended 2.5-1.5 in Algeria’s favor. Following in the footsteps of the Algerians, Ethiopia continued their superb run at the tournament with a 2.5-1.5 victory over Kenya to step into the top 10 after the round
Nigeria lost to the host nation Morocco in a match that could have gone either way, but thanks to missing plans along the way, the Nigerians fell to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Moroccans. Zambia almost claimed a perfect scalp from Malawi, but for the brilliance and resilience of the youngest IM in Africa, Joseph Mwale, who rescued a point for the Malawians to succumb to a 3-1 defeat from the Zambians.
Both Sao Tome & Principe as well as Namibia fired home powerfully against their respective opponents with their counterparts only able to secure a single draw of the four (4) boards, as both Espirito Santo and FM Dante Beukes led their respective teams to 3.5-0.5 victories. While Mauritius claimed the only perfect score victory of the round against Central African Republic in a 4-0 drubbing and Cape Verde picked up their very first team points against Eritrea thanks to special victories by their female players.
The 7th round had players hungry for results and the round produced some very interesting results, which includes five (5) different 4-0 victories for Egypt, Zambia, Namibia, Malawi and Cameroon. It was a humbling moment for Botswana and one which should have at least given them a game point on board 3, where WIM Francis Onkemetse had an exchange up and a winnable position against WGM Wafa Shrook, who eventually converted the point for Egypt after some nice endgame display, to remain the only player on a perfect 7/7.
In the match of the day, Algeria snuck past Morocco in a keenly contested match that had both GM Bellahcene and WIM Nassr claim important victories that only needed the draw of WIM Latreche to secure the match point 2.5-1.5. Zimbabwe was also held by Angola, but after wins from the hugely impressive Mushore Emarald and Colletta, IM Makoto Rodwell’s draw was good enough to secure the match point and keep up with the leaders with a 2.5-1.5 victory. This result margin was also shared by Tunisia, who would have thought they would steamroll over the Ethiopians, only to find they had to dig very deep to get a winning result and were probably content with the narrow 2.5-1.5 victory over a hugely impressive Ethiopian side.
With a system in the Dutch Leningrad opening, Ogbiyoyo Perpetual was the only Nigerian to have lost in this round when they faced Kenya. The others secured important victories to move the stocks of the team up a notch as they delivered a 3-1 victory to the team. As Mali were held to a 2-2 draw by Central African Republic.
Round 8 presented interesting bouts, as Zambia was falling to the Pharaohs in emphatic fashion, until the perfect score WGM Shrook misplayed her endgame transition and gave away her bishop to avert the return of the queen and eventually losing her rook to the 5 time Zambia women’s champion WIM Mwango Lorita. Others lost rather quickly and the match ended in a 3-1 victory for the Egyptians, as they held their place at the top of the standings. Malawi continued their impressive comeback with FM Mwale Joseph leading the team to an impressive 3-1 victory over Namibia. A result that pushed them ahead of Nigeria on the standings.
Algeria, Morocco and Kenya all secured 2.5-1.5 victories over their respective opponents, as both Algeria and Morocco were trying to keep up with the pace at which Egypt was claiming victories, for an outside chance of pipping the Pharaohs to the top at the end of the event.
The super Zimbabwe were faced with Nigeria in a must win battle that would guarantee them a spot in the top (3), but could not imagine the spirit that came with the Nigerians, as they were on the back foot from the get go, and after a swift victory on board 4 by Ofowino Toritsemuwa, it seemed like Nigeria would be going for the jugular, only for IM Makoto Rodwell to strike back for the Zims. FM Osunfuyi was able to get the better of the top gun slayer in Mushore Emarald, but WFM Perpetual was unable to hold with the Dutch Leningrad yet again. The result was an important 2-2 draw, which pulled up the Nigerians a bit, but also pulled back the Zimbabweans from the top guys a bit.
With the hugely impressive Ethiopia leading the band of teams that claimed 4-0 victories over their respective opponents as Botswana, Kenya, Cameroon along with Sao Tome and Principe all claimed perfect scores against their opponents.
Round 9, which happened to be the final round of the event saw checkmates of different kinds and it was interesting to follow, but not get involved, as they would have been quite painful for the players.
Egypt and Algeria recorded emphatic 4-0 victories over the resurgent Malawi and the impressive Ethiopia respectively, to cement their place at the top of the log for both Gold and Silver Medals. The only other teams to record 4-0 victories, were Namibia and Kenya, with the former zooming into the top 5 on the log at the end of the event.
Botswana bounced back with a hugely important 2-2 draw against Zimbabwe, which if they had won, would have denied Zimbabwe a spot in the top 3. But as fate would have it, the spoils were shared evenly and Zimbabwe secured their spot as the number 3 playing nation in Africa. Zambia also did the rest of Africa a “solid”, as they held Morocco at bay for the other African zones to climb over the Northerners.
But then, it was the 3.5-0.5 win for Nigeria over Tunisia that was the jaw breaker for the round, championed by the checkmate delivered by FM Osunfuyi on IM Boudriga in an end to end game. With only his second loss of the tournament, IM Zaibi could not keep up with the intensity with which IM Adu Oladapo came into the match and soon fell off the rails in an attempt to fight his way through.
Namibia, Malawi, Cameroon and Ethiopia were the big beneficiaries of the point drops by the Northerners in the last round, climbing to 6th, 7th, 8th and 10th respectively, to make up a very unexpected top 10 at the end of the team tournament.
The individual rapid event kicked off already and results are coming in. we hope to bring you details as they come.
Which players would take up the top 3 positions in at the end of the event for male and female?
Do have your say in the comments section below.