It was a day of intense pressure and important results at the ongoing African Junior Chess Championships as some kids under the ages of 10 years were pulling strings on the board of play and the quality being displayed at the event shows that Africa is really working at getting chess #OutOfTheWoods.
After the rest and sight seeing done on the 4th day in Ghana, going to see the Black Star Square and the Kwame Nkrumah Museum (where the first Ghanaian President’s lay in peace, to be remembered forever) was over, the players got back to action and it was a battle that lasted late into the night for some, while others were wrapped up quickly, in what was an important day for the separation of boys and men in the game.
The open section had an interesting angle to it, considering the last game of the round ending after about five (5) hours of play by a 16 year old Nigerian, Okeke Isaac and an 18 year old Libyan, Elier Ali, with both players giving their all on the board of play. Okeke continues to show why he is the next best thing for Nigerian chess, with his dogged style of play, along with his brilliant vision on the board of play, which secured him an all important win against the Libyan.
The top dogs of this category showed immense strength to displace their respective opponents, as both GM Fawzy Adham and IM Fy Rakotomaharo were both victorious against an impressive Ogosi Raphael-Mary and IM Kandil Adham in two (2) grueling games. Although Fawzy had it easier, it is not to take away the fight showed by the 20 year old Ogosi in the game.
After his painful loss to Elier Ali in the 4th round, Oyelabi Jonathan bounced back to winning ways with a crushing defeat of Ivorian young chap Branch Richard Amin, who has shown considerable improvements since the tournament began.
Niamkey Elijah Pharell, refused to yield to his countryman, Tanoe Yao Aubin Maximilien, in a battle of wits and ideas that ended in a fight to the finish. They were closely followed by the 9 year old Ghanaian, Amoako Philip Selikem Yao, who also force his countryman, Karamchandani Rohan to an impressive draw. One which the young boy would feel he could have pushed for more, but did not want to risk it, for the fear of losing it.
Top ranked female player, WFM Pires Luzia of Angola continued to show strength in the female section, as she continued to displace everyone that comes her way. Some girls say “she does not play anything, she is just lucky”, but this girl has shown that even the act of waiting is doing something, and when you understand that you would realise that she is playing everything.
The Angolan was literarily in trouble against Cote d’Ivoire’s WCM Yavo Tchetche Marie, but with persistent pressure and her understanding of weaknesses, Luzia came back into the game, creating a passed pawn and using the passed pawn to show her opponent that there are so many things going on in the game. After giving her knight for the passer, Marie could not cope with the onslaught that ensued and eventually had to resign (crying her heart out after the loss).
Going into their game, Botswana’s Gabatshwarwe Refilwe knew that only a win can keep her within touching distance of the top place finish and she gave everything in the game to ensure she was victorious against the super impressive Algerian, Djerroud Chahrazed.
By the time the game got into the opposite colored bishop endgame, Refilwe had a passed pawn that kept the king on the queenside, while she also had two pawns to her opponent’s one on the kingside. After some impressive play by the 14 year old Bots, she was able to convert the full point with ease and got herself back into contention at the event.
Enomah Emmanuella Trust also got back to winning ways, as she steamrolled over Ghana’s WCM Felix Tobi, who seems to be having a bad tournament, but has the potential to be a key player for Ghana in the nearest future.
In a game of weaknesses and ideas, Togo’s De Souza Ivana Claudia Eyram was the victor when she faced off against Ivorian Lorng Yowel Madeleine. Ivana’s first major tournament was at the zonal chess championship earlier in the year, and after this round, she finds herself on three (3) points out of a possible five (5).
This shows that Togo chess is working on their young ones. The hope is they also help build other young bloods within the nation, so that the western region of Africa can mount a major challenge globally, in the next few years.
The next set of rounds are as important as they are crucial to the deciding of who the tournament champion would eventually be.