It was a day for fighting chess from virtually all the players and a lot of kudos has to be given, even after the losses in the rounds that occurred yesterday.
The Nigerian kids had a massive showing, as they picked up six (6) points out of a possible eight (8) total points accruable on the day, as they had to scrape for the points after a disappointing second day, and who better to lead the ranks than Ogosi Raphael-Mary, who held his own against IM Kandil, sacced a bishop for two (2) pawns, after which he kept the king in the center of the board and gave his queen for a rook, a bishop and a knight, in an end to end game that eventually ended an agreed draw. He then went ahead to defeat the Angolan prodigy, Filipe Marcio, in superb fashion that made some of the organizers believe that he could help defend the Western region of Africa against all odds.
16 year old Okeke Isaac had the easiest route to the top on the day (on paper), but the games were far from easy, with Ivorian super kid, Niamkey Elijah Pharell (popularly called Eli, among his peers), punching well above his weight and would have upset the 2000+ rate Isaac, had he found a Ne7+!? deep into the middlegame tussles. Eli would no doubt be proud of his game play and would become a force, not just on the continent, but globally, if he can get the right support to grow in every way and form.
Another Ivorian kid that would be proud of his day 2 achievements is Tano Yao Aubin Maximilien (Maxi), who refused to lose on the day and picked up valuable draws against Alfaitori Abdallah of Libya and countryman Foua Aroll Junior, playing quality chess to make the achievement possible.
Amoako Philip Selikem Yao of Ghana would be elated by his performance on day 3 of the championship, as he defeated two (2) other Ghanaians with his strategic understanding and play, on a day where most players in the event fought tooth and nail to come out with one and a half (1.5) points from two games. Philip showed grit, understanding and a planning mind for a boy his age and he is another jewel in the western region that would go pretty far up the ladder, if he gets the necessary support.
The Egyptian brothers who are the seeming favorites for the event, were held to only picking up one and a half points on the day, with some interesting games that showed how well these kids understand the game of chess, and you can see it in their analysis afterwards. Both IM Kandil and GM Fawzy have what it takes to go all the way to win the championship, but they still have to go through the other Arabs, the Nigerians and most importantly IM Fy Rakotomaharo of Madagascar, who sole aim at this event is to win it and have a Junior championship trophy to his name.
IM Fy has had some tough games at the event, but he has held sway to come out victorious in all but against the Egyptian GM Fawzy, where both played a closed game that had little to no initiative given away, and anyone who tries too hard to win it, may eventually lose it, which made both players relax and agree to a cool draw.
In this section, ratings can be deceiving and if you look at it for too long, you would be shocked at the power play that comes out from the girls, especially the Algerian wonderkid, Djerroud Chahrazed, who has held every top girl to ransom and would be facing the last of the top girls in a clash of importance tomorrow.
Chahrazed’s games are filled with accurate play and understanding, which is unexpected of a 1400+ rated player. She plays the games like her life and her family’s depended on it, and the grit she shows is comparable to that of a master. So far in the tournament, she has picked up a win and a draw against the female top dogs and she is not looking to stop there. After picking up three and a half points from the initial four (4) games, she would be eyeing the title as much as any of the other young girls at the event, with hopes that she has put herself in good stead to win it, or at the very least tie for first place.
On the other hand, WFM Pires Luzia, who is the joint highest rated player at the event, has been showing intense strength, as she blew past every player she has faced, until the Algerian. Luzia is moving on the train of the victorious Angolan show at the Juniors event, with the hopes of picking up her WIM title and continuing the trend of an Angolan victory at the Juniors championship. With five (5) more rounds to go, it would be interesting to see if either of the Angolan or the Algerian can be stopped at this event.
Both Nigeria’s Enomah Emmanuella Trust and Botswana’s WCM Gabatshwarwe Refilwe have had a rocky start to the tournament with a loss apiece and a draw against themselves in the 4th round, they are the key challengers to both Chahrazed and Luzia at the event, but both of them currently trail these two (2) by a full point. Emmanuella lost to Chahrazed, while Refilwe lost to her roommate, Luzia, and they would have to help each other repay the favor, if either of them would have a shot at the top title, otherwise, they would have to settle for 3rd place, whoever would get it amongst the twain.
The 5th round of games would continue tomorrow, as the kids have been given a rest day today to see the beauty and splendor of Ghana.
Who do you tip to win the championship in both sections?
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