With the team rapid and individual rapid events done and dusted, the rest of Africa were hoping to deny the Egyptians the blitz medals, but how possible is that? The answer came after 9 fierce battles of chess in the beautiful city of Casablanca, Morocco.
Being the final day of the events in Casablanca, everyone knew it was their last shot at getting a medal and it was a battle from the word go, as the top players started like a house on fire and the upset of the first round kicking in from board 10, where CM Marie Patrick (1921) of Mauritius was able to show the power of a single passed pawn that could not be put under lock and key, to defeat IM Arthur Ssegwanyi (2301) of Uganda, leading the way of upsets. This was taken up by Hassan Abderramane (1786) of Mauritania, who coasted home against FM Aithmidou Mohamed-Mehdi (2276) of Morocco, after picking up a free piece in the 18th move of the game.
The second round was the round with probably the highest number of upsets at the tournament, as had FM Mwale Joseph (2205) choosing not to go down against Tunisia’s IM Tissir Mohamed (2439), and securing a draw in the process to kick off the upsets.
Botswana’s IM Providence then picked up the baton of upsets from him, by dealing a huge blow on Zambia’s IM Kayonde Andrew, picking up the win on time even though the position was fairly equal at the end.
But CM Marie Patrick was not done with upsets yet, as he took down Tunisia’s IM Boudriga Mohamed, after the former announced a check on h7, which would make the latter’s knight free for the picking.
IM Arthur was subjected to probably his worst start to an event this year, as he fell again, this time to impressive Hassan Abderramane, who showed vision and grit to take home the full point, in a game where he lost his bishop to two (2) pawns, but thanks to the push for an instant win from the Ugandan maestro and his ability to spot the crack, a queen check and a rook lift was all that was needed to turn the tables around, which ensured that Arthur resigned.
That was not all, as Kenya’s Sang Ricky (1825) also stood tall against Morocco’s Aithmidou Mohamed-Mehdi, who thought he would be getting the better side of a queen for 2 rooks exchange, but Ricky had other ideas and it was his that stood, to take home the full point.
During the 3rd round, the upset was on board 1, where Nigeria’s Adu Oladapo claimed an all important victory with two (2) connected advanced passed pawns against a rook, in what would be a win that costed him 3 straight losses.
CM Charles Eichab, popularly known as the “Lion of Namibia” roared against the Sauron of Lybia, FM Elarabi Abobker, and the latter dropped a knight in the process of getting himself together (just a joke). But after losing his queen to only a rook, the Namibian had to pull a straw out of the hat to convert what would be a memorable comeback victory.
Although GM Amin Bassem continued to club anyone brought up to his table, GM Adly experienced a little turn of events, as he was held by IM Tissir Mohamed of Tunisia, in what was a tug of war. CM Naipal Hoolan also claimed a very important career victory over IM Chumfwa Stanley of Zambia, with a solid performance and an impressive time management skill. As Sang Ricky claimed another higher rated scalp in Ethiopia’s top player, FM Mesfin Leykun, picking up everything on his path, after initially collecting the queen for just a rook.
It was a case of “give me my point by force” for the higher rated players in the 5th round of the event, and there were no major upsets in the round, save for FM Harold Wanyama’s victory over Angola’s IM Aderito Pedro in a positional game that had some interesting twist to it. And Zimbabwe’s Mushore Emarald’s win over IM Boudriga Mohamed of Tunisia in a bishop and pawn endgame could have gone either way if there was just a little more time.
The 6th round was the last round before the lunch break, and it was the Ugandan FM Harold Wanyama (2237) that took it to heart the most, as he was brutal with the use of the minor pieces in his victory over Algeria’s veteran IM Arab Adlane (2422). The latter resigned after seeing the mate in 3 threat, which would ensure that the Algerian would have to go a full piece down, with two (2) unstoppable passed pawns on the queenside.
Morocco’s Aithmidou (2276) compounded the woes of the Nigerian veteran IM Adu Oladapo (2331), with a third successive loss, in a game that the Nigerian would feel he should not have lost, and rightly so, but he got himself into checkmate in the most likely manner of snapping up an unimportant pawn in the position and forgetting his home.
Another Nigerian however, picked up the mantle and started the race for the top, with FM Abimbola Osunfuyi claiming the rights to the top boards with an impressive victory over Zambia’s IM Kayonde Andrew. A game that showed that all passed pawns are not the same, and that some have more values than the other (exemplifying the ideas of “Animal Farm”).
After the hour long break, the games continued as the 7th round commenced, with GM Amin Bassem exerting dominance on the chess board with a brilliant victory over FM Harold Wanyama, that keeps him on 7/7 at the end of seven (7) rounds of play.
Nigeria’s Osunfuyi Abimbola continued his rise on the board with another important victory over Uganda’s IM Arthur Ssegwanyi, forcing the IM to resign in just 28 moves, after the Ugandan trapped his queen in the Nigerian’s kingside and all he can get for her are two (2) pawns at the most.
Both IM Adu Oladapo and IM Andrew Kayonde bounced back with victories in this round, but it was the Namibian Lion, CM Charles Eichab, that got the better of IM Zaibi Amir of Tunisia, in what was a rook blunder, because of the back rank mate threat.
The rest is history, as the good doctor, GM Bassem Amin, won the Blitz section with a perfectly brilliant 9/9, followed by comeback king GM Adly Ahmed, while Algeria’s GM Bellahcene Bilel snuck into third place, half a point ahead of the rest that were pushing for it.
This is one of the best organized chess events on the continent, and it is all thanks to the Fide President and his band of visionaries, who took on the challenge of bridging the gap between Africa and the rest of the world, and they have started wonderfully.