With just about two (2) days to the 2019 African Junior Chess Championships in Accra, Ghana, Africa Chess Media takes a look at the juniors representing the various flags at the tournament this year.
Angola: Boasting a total of 8 championship victories among their players in this under 20 continental event, Angola has been the most successful nation at the juniors tournament. The good thing for some juniors though, is that 3 time champion of this event, IM David Silva has outgrown the event, being 21 years of age, and the upcoming Angolan breeds would have to step up to be counted. Both Marcio Filipe and Luzia Pires have been confirmed to participate in this event as well as WIM Caxita Esperance and Borges Jose, and it is left to see if they would be able to push the boundaries for the top at this event.
Luzia Pires was at the Olympiad last year, and gained valuable experience at the event, in an event where Angola took the youngest female team in their history to. This would however be Marcio’s first outing on the continent and he has some big shoes to fill, if he is to walk the David Silva route. But to take away pressure, the young man can walk his own path and focus on being the best him, rather than the next Silva.
WIM Caxita Esperance has the experience to match her title and apart from being an Olympian, she is also a 3-time Angola Female Chess Champion, a title that is very hard to come by, considering the number of older female players in the country, and she picked up her first at about age 14. Meanwhile, Borges Jose would be participating at the event for a second time, with the hopes of performing better than the last time. A top 5 finish would be classified a good outing, considering the players at the helm of affairs, but he would be pushing for a top 3 finish at the event.
Egypt: With the highest rated player at the tournament coming from Egypt, they are the favorites to win the championship in the open category, and with a good run of form for grandmaster, YES, GM Fawzy Adham, might just win it for him this time around, since he was pipped to it the last time around by Angola’s IM David Silva, who would not be participating. Fawzy’s brother, IM Kandil Adham, would be the second player from Egypt, and would be looking to pick up the GM Norm at the end of the tournament, which the event has to offer for the international master that wins the tournament.
Madagascar: The Malagasy genius, IM Fy Rakotomaharo, is the sole representative for his country and one who is also eyeing the GM Norm on offer. The 20 year old has been doing wonders on the chess board, both online and over the board, as can be seen with his games at the Fide/Chess.com Isle of Man Open Tournament, which ended a couple of days ago. He would be a major force to contend with at the tournament and he is one to really push Fawzy all the way.
Togo: Togo is being represented at this championship for the very first time (outside the shores of their country) and it is a good move from one of the youngest national federations the West Africa, and they send their most promising boy and girl. Kueviakoe Folly Cedric and De Souza Ivana Claudia Eyram were selected to represent the Togolese people at these championships, with hopes that they gain both valuable experiences and victories before coming back home. These are developmental times and it is very important to provide experience for the young ones, so that they can grow up unafraid of life’s challenges.
Botswana: Botswana have some of the brightest youngsters on the continent and these kids have been doing so well, both locally and on the continent, with medal hauls during the last two (2) continental youth events. This time around, it is the 14 year old Female National Champion of Botswana, WCM Refilwe Gabatshwarwe, who will be representing the country at this prestigious event.
She has continued to show that age is just a number, and anyone who puts their mind to whatever they want to achieve, would definitely achieve it. Refilwe is most likely the youngest female national champion ever in Africa, and she would be hoping to pick up the WIM title up for grabs for the winner of the female section of the championship.
Libya: In the past year, Libya has become more consistent with participation in chess tournaments and it is a great thing that they have sent a junior for this championship in Ghana, one who is without doubt a challenger for the top places. Elier Ali is the sixth seed at the tournament, behind 2 Egyptians, 1 Malagasy, 1 Angolan and a Nigerian, would he be ahead of anyone of them at the end of the tournament, only the next twelve (12) days will tell.
Cote d’Ivoire: With the trainings being gotten over the past year, as well as the visit and training gotten from grandmaster Maurice Ashley in the past few weeks, the Ivorians would be bubbling with hope and believe that they can cause upsets at the event. With the second most participation at the tournament, Cote d’Ivoire would be represented by six (6) players, being led by the Olympian Foua Aroll Junior, who participated at the last Olympiad in Batumi, Georgia. He is joined by other Olympians, Lorng Yowel Madelleine and Yavo Tchetche Marie, as well as prospects, Kouame Ange, Niamey Elijah and Aubin Tanoe, who would fly the Ivorian flag at the event and bring what they have learnt to the table.
Ghana: As host of the championship, eleven (11) players have been registered and what is most interesting about this group of players, is that they qualified through a qualifier, put together by the Ghana Chess Association, in other to show fairness and equity in the selection process. This qualifier was put in place after grandmaster Maurice Ashley made a stopover in Ghana, to give some nuggets for chess success to the young lads. And those who took the nuggets eventually qualified for the championship.
Felix Tobi would lead the charge of the five (5) girls who would be representing Ghana for this event and she is joined by Barnor Mary, Barnor Rebecca, Mensah Rahael and Sedzorme Lorraine.
While the open section will have Rohan Karamchandani leading the six (6) boys to the valley of brutality, with hopes that the weapons they have harnessed from their trainings would be enough for victories. Defending the Ghanaian flag along with Rohan, are Joshan Shunjaiy Amoako Philip Selikem Yao, Bannerman Emmanuel Kelvin, Nenyo Enock Kpodzi and Sharman Rohan. These boys would be looking to gain some valuable experience, as well as pick up some wins at every opportunity.
Nigeria: The giants of Africa, who have made Ghana a safe haven for picking up laurels. Nigeria would be ably represented by more than ten (10) players, who would be taking the opportunity to represent their nation with the help of individual sponsors, who deem it necessary for these young ones to gain valuable experiences, as well as give them an opportunity to achieve some milestones in the ECOWAS region, and maybe even on the continent.
The top ranked player, who would be leading the charge of the opens category is Ogosi Raphael-Mary. This young boy has been working at his chess and showing his stuff against top national masters at various points in time, and would be one to watch out for. With the backing of Delta State in Nigeria, his University, and the that of the federal government of Nigeria, through the Nigeria Chess Federation, Ogosi would lead the challenge against the Northern and Southern raiders that have come to the west to challenge for the African Junior U20 Chess Championship. He would be joined by Okeke Isaac, Oyelabi Jonathan, Osadebe Emmanuel, Ezinna Tochukwu and Musa Daniel Yakubu.
In the female category, Enomah Emmanuella Trust would lead the Nigerian girls into the battle in Ghana with the hopes of claiming the WIM title, becoming only the second and youngest WIM in West Africa. She would be joined by Suleiman Azumi Ayisha, Ikechi Blessing, Karu Edith Ishaya, and Karu Gloria Ishaya, in what will be a championship to remember for both the kids and the spectators as well.