Hunt for GM scalps thwarted – Moja Chess Extravaganza 2022 – Day 1

It was a highly eventful start to the Moja Chess Extravaganza with participants flooding in from at least 7 countries! Four chess grandmasters, one each from Tunisia, India, England and Egypt graced the event with other participants from neighbouring Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia also in the mix.

20 Board Simultaneous Exhibition

On registration Day players were pleasantly surprised by a 20 board simulation exhibition by FIDE Vice President and the first English chess player to ever participate in a World Chess Championship, GM Nigel Short.

GM Nigel Short in a 20 board simulation | Image by Cosmos Chipepo for ACM

GM Short took on the players and emerged relatively unscathed with 19 wins and 1 draw to upcoming youngster Eduan de Swardt.

Standing from L-R Eduan de Swardt, Chrizander de Swardt and Devon Smit.

GM/IM Norm Section

The GM/IM section was the most tense and intense of all the events. The playing hall is some 2km distance away from the Mittah Seperere conference hall, at the Garden Court Kimberley. 10 players in a round robin. Four chess grandmasters chased by hungry youthful energy, it was thrilling to experience! Although all 4 (four) GMs prevailed with the white pieces, there were some close calls.

1900+ rated Christiaan Acho did plenty to show he deserves a place in the section even if he is the lowest rated in this section | Image by Cosmos Chipepo for ACM

1900+ rated Christiaan Acho, in particular, did plenty to show he deserves a place in the section even if he is the lowest rated in this section. He played the best chess of his life to almost topple top seed Short in a tightly contested game. Almost.

FM Banele Mhango drew his game with FM Daniel Barrish in the battle of the FMs and it was the longest game of the round. Tunisian GM GM Amir Zaibi won his game against CM Keith Khumalo. GM Hesham of Egypt was victorious over Alessandro Parodi and GM Sahaj Grover of India beat Siame Kela Kaulele. All games in this round were tightly contested and hard fought, you can take a look here.

Open Section

Prestige Section

The Prestige and all the other sections in the Open Section (Ladies, B and C) have all gone through 2 rounds already by today 19-03-2022. The top 8 boards in the Prestige are live on DGT. Top seed Daniel Cawdery has won both his games and second seed Rodwell Makoto has one win and a draw to the talented Michael Simpson in the second round. Stephanus Vorster and Vusi Mlahleki are also doing very well, sitting on 2 crucial early points off the bat. We will see tomorrow if the gap between the leaders and the rest will widen.

I need to mention that we have two ladies who are showing remarkable grit by registering for the Prestige and not in the ladies section. WIM Charlize Van Zyl and WCM Natasha Joubert have my utmost respect in their decision to not play in the ladies section but to test themselves in the Prestige Open.

Ladies Section, B, C and D

These sections are still tightly contested with 10 players on 2 points after 2 rounds and 23 players with a point each for the D section alone. We should see the picture get clearer as the rounds progress.

Media Coverage

South African Broadcast Corporation (SABC) did a segment on the Moja Chess Extravaganza 2022

The event has garnered a lot of media attention with the public broadcaster doing a segment on it and various smaller independent media including a company known as Okgetile Group who are doing livestreams and interviews. Though shall not judgeth too harshly for it can only get better. I support local initiatives like this wholeheartedly, what this team are doing is phenomenal.

**Correction: A previous version of this article had named the youngster who drew with GM Short as Bevan Lingard. This was corrected to now reflect the right person who is in fact Eduan de Swardt.

The Moja Chess Extravaganza is a chess event organized by the Moja Chess Club, under the auspices of Frances Baard Chess, Northern Cape Chess and the Northern Cape Tourism board. Chess players both local and international have been invited to participate in Over-The-Board chess activities to be held at the Mittah Seperepere Convention Centre which is situated in Kimberley, Northern Cape on 18 – 22 March 2022. A GM/IM norm event is also scheduled to run concurrently between 18 – 27 March 2022.

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