What a fantastic finish to the first edition of the Malogy Online Rapid Invitational (MORI)! A brilliant semifinal matchup was capped up with a splendid finale, one that had both IM Olape Bunmi (Micfel) and FM Adebayo Adegboyega (Dabee) jostling for the top prize.
Meanwhile, after falling down the ladder in the semis, both IM Aikhoje Odion and FM Akintoye Abdulrahman Abdulraheem battled it out for the opportunity to have a podium finish.
Battle for Third Place
The third-place match between IM Aikhoje Odion and FM Akintoye Abdulrahman Abdulraheem was a battle of generations. IM Aikhoje playing for the veterans and FM Akintoye in it for the new generation of Nigeria chess talent.
The first round of the four (4) game match saw FM Akintoye (Dbestsmiles) call the shots from early in the game against IM Aikhoje (Odirovski). Playing black, the knight dance ensured the removal of the dark-squared bishop that usually causes problems in the London System which the IM routinely employs in the opening.
Dbestsmiles went for early simplifications in a game where he had the space and time to get behind his opponent’s defensive lines. From this point, everything went downhill for the IM and it was just a matter of time before the final blow was landed.
After 33…Qxd2! everything was exchanged and it was clear that this game had no future. A few moves later, Odirovski resigned and they went into the next game (1 for the young generation).
Odirovski struck back in the next game with the black pieces and what a strike it was. Playing the English opening, Dbestsmiles would have given himself a knock in the head for missing the idea on the 13th move. Giving away a free pawn through a dubious pawn push was so unlike the Ikorodu (Lagos) based player.
With this move, the game became open and the fans could feel the excitement in what had now become a double-edged position: White having more space and Black having an extra pawn. Another important decision was in the offing as the 21st move was reached, which demanded Dbestsmiles to either give up a rook or hand over his knight for a bishop that was doing nothing in the game before that move.
The young man opted for the former and gave his rook in exchange for Odirovski’s bishop, and with it, the initiative. Odirovski did not let go of the initiative after this. Although he made some inaccurate moves, he did enough to force the queen exchange, and showed why the rook is a major officer and both the knight and bishop minors.
Odirovski closed up the game with a rook sac on the knight, which gave him an extra pawn and cleared the way for the remaining two (2) pawns to march towards promotion (1 win for the veterans).
Heading into the final two (2) games all square, a few hours break did a disservice to the veteran IM Odirovski, as he strolled into the knight fork in the 3rd game. This meant the international master had to win the fourth game.
In search of just a draw to secure a third-place finish at “MORI”, FM Dbestsmiles played an unconventional opening line, giving away his h-pawn early in the game, to secure a long-term strategic hold. The Fide Master then built on this hold continuously, as he created several targets and weaknesses to exploit in the long run.
Having everything going for him, Dbestsmiles chose the only line that draws, considering he could have avoided the queen exchange and instead choose to blow up an already shaky kingside.
FM Akintoye did eventually secure his third-place finish with a draw in the game above, which ensured that the younger generation had a place on the podium.
This was a matchup that rolled back the years for many who were watching! IM Olape Bunmi (Micfel) and FM Adebayo Adegboyega (Dabee) gave a befitting finish to the first edition of “MORI” and showed why more of these kinds of events are needed on the African continent.
The first round of their six (6) round Final, was akin to the first round of a professional boxing match, where both players are still fresh and sizing up one another. Asking the questions, IM Micfel produced some scintillating knight maneuvers, which made the fans understand the depth of knowledge embedded in the veteran.
At the end of the game, both players produced consecutive computer moves for over thirty (30+) endgame exchanges, to enjoy a first-round draw.
Choosing the classical variation of the Ruy Lopez opening line for the second game, it was bound to be a battle of ideas and maneuvers yet again. However, it boiled down to who had the better understanding of the line, as both players chose their weapon of war between the knight and the bishop.
Eventually, the bishop gained a pawn for the Fide master, but with queens and pawns left on the board, FM Dabee failed to capitalize on the pawn advantage. This ensured that game two (2) ended in a hard-fought draw.
In the third game, the Mason variation of the Queen’s Pawn Opening was chosen. This led to a middlegame where FM Dabee was quite comfortable after the first fifteen (15) moves of the game. Over the course of the next few moves, equality set in, and the maneuverings began. Move after move, he gained more and more space and it certainly seemed that it was only a matter of time before the FM would force the collapse of his opponent’s position.
Activity at all costs!! 31.Nd4! was played by FM Dabee. IM Micfel had to think for close to two (2) minutes before responding to this move, with the only response that such a brilliant move required, 31…Bb6!
In the twinkle of an eye, FM Dabee had a passed pawn on the c-file, which looked unstoppable and would have looked intimidating to some, but not Micfel.
The IM saw the draw loophole and exploited it. While Dabee was playing on the c-pawn, Micfel cleared all the pawns on the kingside, and giving himself an opportunity for victory.
This opportunity was not taken though, and he rather chose the draw instead of going for the victorious march by his pawn(s), as you would see in the game below.
A few hours passed and a few online blitz games were apparently played by IM Micfel. The effect of this was seen in his next game, as he played into the wrong end of the Classical Variation of the Ruy Lopez opening line. Picking up a pawn on h4 that seemed free, but which led to his doom, as there was a threat of checkmate in line with capturing the Lopez bishop on a5.
This win put Fide master Adebayo in the driver’s seat of the match, and all he needed was two (2) draws or a win to clinch the coveted top place.
Entering the 5th game, FM Dabee collected a pawn on h7 early on, but would have to give it back during the middlegame play. The Fide master collected another free pawn, but IM Micfel was up to the task. Right after the queens were traded off, the rooks could only do so much and they agreed to a draw a few moments later.
This puts the score at 3-2 going into the final rapid game, where Dabee only needed a draw to clinch the match, meanwhile, Micfel needed to win to take the match into extra time or blitz tiebreaker.
The final round of the match would surely have been the game of the day, but for the miss by FM Dabee, who had been impeccable throughout the invitational.
The Benelux variation of the classical Ruy Lopez defense was employed in a crunch game. Dabee had collected a free pawn as early as move fifteen (15), and the path being employed by Micfel was not looking convincing enough to secure the victory he required.
After building the position through excellent positional maneuvering, FM Adebayo missed the super solid, super brilliant 27…Rxe5!! which would have destroyed the White pawn phalanx for nothing, or force the loss of the White Queen because of the threat of checkmate on h2.
After missing this move, the game went on for a little bit longer. However, after Micfel canceled out the advantage held by Dabee for so long in the game, he was unable to find a winning continuation.
Needing a win to stay in the match, Micfel had no choice but to bow to the might of the two (2) passed pawns on the c-file and d-file respectively. See the game below.
This finish put the top three finishers in the following order:
Champion: FM Adebayo Adegboyega
1st Runner Up: IM Olape Bunmi
2nd Runner Up: FM Akintoye Abdulrahman Abdulraheem
The energy and excitement generated by the “MORI” was palpable, with a total of over three thousand seven hundred (3700+) views on the FB live streams during the whole invitational, as well as over a thousand and five hundred (1500+) in total on the lichess platform, for the eight (8) days event. Viewers watching the 2nd leg of the final match were well over a hundred and fifty (150+) at some.
By putting together the most widely watched and followed event locally this year, Malogychess has shown spectators what Africa can do, and it is now time for Africa to rise up and take its chess organization to the next level.