Player Profiling: IM (Elect) Ajibola Olanrewaju

His name is Ajibola Olanrewaju (aka Papa). He is in his forties and hovers between being an amateur and being a professional chess player. He loves football and enjoys traveling. He graduated from the Federal University of Technology, Akure and he enjoys giving back to the society, as much as he can. He would be our player of the day and he tells us a bit about himself.

IM (Elect) Ajibola Olanrewaju| Image Courtesy: Ogunsiku Babatunde

As regards the opening line I enjoy playing, well, the Colle system has served me well as white, even though I find it rather boring these days. As black, I suffer in the opening phase, but if I make it past the opening with a playable position, I tend to hold my own very well.

My plan (before the COVID-19, and definitely after), is to help produce exceptional Juniors in Africa (which I was working at, along with Fide Master Abdurahman Akintoye, through the Pedachess Academy based in Lagos, Nigeria). A second plan was to play as much chess as possible but with adequate rest of course.

IM (elect) Ajibola Olanrewaju playing against FM Akintoye Abdulrahman| Image Courtesy: Ogunsiku Babatunde

But with the Covid-19 pandemic, my thoughts usually are for those losing their lives. The numbers we see are deaths of people that had aspirations like you and I. The economic hardship that might follow may be grave especially for African countries where corruption seems to be the only air our leaders breathe.

For the Africa individuals, i just intended to enjoy chess as much as possible, while facing off against some of the very best players on the continent.

L-R: GM Bellahcene Bilel, IM Rodwell Makoto, FM Mwale Joseph, GM Bassem Amin, IM Fy Rakotomaharo, IM Daniel Cawdery, and IM Arthur Ssegwanyi| Images Courtesy of Ogunsiku Babatunde and Alina L’Ami

As regards the number of hours I put into training? I work with juniors, so I spend most of my days with chess. As they go through their task, I am with them. I miss that now, because of the pandemic. But deliberately by myself, I can say I do 2 hours on a daily basis.

Referring to the 2 hours I put into training, I definitely would want to do more, but we have a lot of things mitigating against us in Africa. The power situation in Nigeria in particular for instance, Economic hardship, lack of funding for the sporting sector, very low to zero sponsorships for outstanding individuals in areas of intelligent fields, and of course corrupt practices.

These are just a few of the challenges that most African chess players have to battle against on their journey to becoming an international master and grandmaster in the field.

The tormentor of the youths IM (elect) Ajibola Olanrewaju| Image Courtesy: Ogunsiku Babatunde

As regards up and coming juniors, as well as those learning to become better and win tournaments, do not allow anybody tell you what you can or cannot do. Put in the hard work and believe in yourself.
Let’s stay safe. Cheers.

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