With the online chess boom during the COVID-19 breakout, a few Nigerian players have stood themselves out in the online playing space and even though Malogychess would be hosting some of these top players in an invitational that kicks off today, the 28th of June, Africa Chess Media takes a look at some of the most brilliant of the invited players and give you a tip of what to expect.
IM (elect) Ajibola Olanrewaju (Papa) – Over the years, he has been a top player, but did not really become a force to reckon with until 2018, when he had some level of peace with his organization and he could work on the aspects of his game that would give him the edge against other top players in the country.
Fast forward two years into 2020, Ajibola Olanrewaju is now the highest rated Nigerian chess player and deservedly so, considering most of the young players could not really hold their own against him, which is the reason they call him “tormentor of the youths” in Nigeria.
Papa, as he is fondly called, was outstanding at the Zone 4.2 chess championship where he won the zonal classical, rapid and blitz to show that indeed, he is the best in West Africa, where he qualified to receive the International Master title.
He had to find a way to understand the difference between over the board (OTB) play and online play at the beginning of the pandemic, and he has been holding his own well ever since, on the online scene.
IM Anwuli Daniel (Dahny) – One of the most brilliant chess players in the country for a few years running, Anwuli Daniel is a twenty-two (22) year old chap, who has continued to distinguish himself as a chess player who knows his stuff, and one that would go all the way to put the country’s flag on the world map.
Anwuli Daniel broke the 2300 rating band way back in 2016 when he showed the Nigerian chess community that it can be done, after decades of remaining in the under 2300 category as a nation and he remains the highest-rated player ever in the country at his peak rating of 2368, a rating he achieved back in 2016.
Anwuli Daniel joined the ranks of International Masters in 2019, after going away from chess for a while and came back with a “bang” to win the last Zone 4.4 individual chess championship for West Africa.
In the online space, IM Daniel has won more online challenge matches than he has lost, playing against FM Harold Wanyama of Uganda and FM Prince Daniel Mulenga of Zambia.
FM Adebayo Adegboyega (Dabee) – A veteran with the heart of a young chess player. Fide Master Adebayo Adegboyega’s name strikes fear in the hearts and ears of almost every Nigerian chess player, and considering his precedence and current online play, it should.
The 4-time Nigerian champion has shown that he has been and remains a force to reckon with on the chessboard and he plays the game with so much passion that you would see it in his reactions to people some times.
Staying off the national chess scene for about four (4) to five (5) years and still in the top five (5) as regards the fide rating list tells of how brilliant he has been over the years, considering the lack of many rated tournaments in the country.
In the online scene, he has been one of the few players to push IM Odion to bring out his best and one to really watch out for in this spectacular event that ensues. FM Adegboyega has won several online tournaments and lost a few on minimal points behind the eventual champs as the lockdown has made more and more chess players seek online activities.
FM Osunfuyi Abimbola (Young gm) – Discovered at age seven (7) by the super chess coach, Boyo Paul Kehinde, Abimbola was one of several children who coach Boyo trained, but one of the very few who became top players in the country.
Nicknamed “Young gm” in his teenage years, Abimbola has stood out of the pack and was ranked ahead of IM Anwuli Daniel when they both broke into the Nigerian chess scene back in 2014, but he dipped faster than Dahny, which gave the international master the edge.
Abimbola is back to playing some of his best games and has been of the few young players to push the veterans all the way in all three (3) formats of normal chess.
Himself and IM Adu Oladapo represented Nigeria at the African Games in 2019 and he finished fourth in the Blitz section of the Rapid and Blitz event, displacing several North African geniuses, but failed against GM Adly in his last round, which could have earned him a possible silver medal at the event.
Online, Abimbola has become a mainstay in finishing within the top five (5) of various events and picking up the top place at intervals, which is one of the reasons why he has qualified to be invited for the Malogy Online Rapid Invitational.
IM Aikhoje Odion (Odirov) – His name is known nationally, continentally and was known globally, as he is one of the very best natural talents to come out of Nigeria, and one who could have easily made the grandmaster title had there been a systematic support for the achievement of that lofty goal.
IM Odion was a gold medalist at the World Chess Olympiad, a feat he achieved back in his super playing days (Elista ’98) when he took chess as his life and source of livelihood. Defeating grandmasters came easily to him and he has done damage to a number of European chess careers as a black man who was not expected to know the game that well.
He left the game to pursue a career in radio communications and he has done this with brilliance as he is one of the best sports analysts in the country, only to come back into the game and realize that he still got it.
IM Odion plays online under the alias Odirovski, and he does not get tired of winning any tournament he participates in, whether it is free or prized, and he has claimed a number of scalps and become one that some of the good players on the continent look out for, to see how he does it. This is one of the reasons why he has been deemed worthy to challenge on this front and bring Nigeria chess to the fore.
We can go ahead and talk about each and every single one of these players and not get tired, but the games are about to start.
So why not get set, pick up your mobile devices or stay glued to your computer as you get entertained by some of the very best Nigeria has got to offer!?