In a tournament that has seemingly shown the weakness of some and the strength of others, the third day of the CIV Invitational Rapid and Blitz tournament saw the best of Grandmaster Dr Amin Bassem and why he is the best in Africa. The day also produced first wins for both Nigeria’s International Master Adu Oladapo and Tunisia’s Grandmaster Slim Belkhodja (who had gone through the tournament with quite good positions, but has been unable to convert). The third day also saw a contender for the game of the tournament, with brilliant sacs and very solid displays, which would all be highlighted as you go into the article.
Overall, the final day of the Rapid section did not disappoint, as the first two days had set a high standard that was further improved on in terms of the quality of the games on display. We report on a third day that had three times as many decisive results as draws.
Round Seven (7):
Not going out for dinner with the team had become the norm for GM Slim Belkhodja, who was still searching for his first victory as round 7 got under way. Unfortunately, he found that the wall of IM Fy Rakotomaharo was too strong to break and it was his own wall that was eventually broken down. He could not withstand the prowess of the young Madagascan genius and eventually lost another heartbreaking game.
In a battle of ideas and kingside attacks, IM Adu Oladapo went all out for the win against the Zambian number one (who had had a great day 2). The attack was so intense that IM Andrew Kayonde had to find only moves to survive, and once he missed one, the match was gone. The defenders of the kingside were not enough to withstand the incoming Adu train and eventually he succumbed to the Nigerian (who earlier had to admit that he never knew IM Andrew Kayonde was this strong). This gave IM Adu his first victory at the tournament.
Joint tournament leaders GM Mohamed Amine Haddouche and IM El Adnani Mokliss played to a drawn position early and a threefold repetition sealed their draw.
Meanwhile, in a game that was topsy-turvy, GM Amin Bassem showed grit and strength to displace IM Arthur Ssegwanyi in calm fashion to take sole lead after the seventh round of the tournament. He thus edged one point ahead of the other Northerners for the first time in the event.
GM Solomon Kenny had to dig deep to win against IM David Silva. He eventually managed to flag David in a seemingly lost position, which ensured that he kept within striking distance of the leaders at the top of the standings.
Round Eight (8):
In this round, there was not a single draw, as every game ended with white as the winner except for the game of the luckless GM Slim Belkhodja, who fell to the brilliance of IM David Silva (who was recovering from his earlier loss).
Very interesting games were played in this round which included a brilliant double-cross bishop sacrifice by IM Fy Rakotomaharo of Madagascar against the Nigerian IM Adu Oladapo.
This round also saw IM El Adnani Mokliss, who had been leading the tournament for most of the first two days, losing to Zambia’s IM Andrew Kayonde. Andrew showed why he is called the “AK47”, with a brilliant finish to a well-crafted endgame. This condemned IM Mokliss to fifth on the log, going into the final round of the Rapid stage.
IM Arthur Ssegwanyi got himself into early trouble by giving away an unsound bishop sacrifice in an attempt to open the kingside that had more than enough defenders. GM Haddouche quietly picked up the bishop and ensured the exchange of the troubling pieces. This allowed his knights to do the dirty work for the rook to clean up the rest.
It was the battle of the Grandmasters that ended last, with Grandmaster Kenny Solomon put on the back foot with his choice of opening line. When he was eventually able to get something going (the knight for rook exchange from GM Bassem), his time was so low that he had to play based on instinct. Grandmaster Amin was still taking his time however and was able to deal serious blows on which eventually yielded the victory for the African Champion. This kept him in the lead with GM Haddouche still on his tail (one point behind), going into the final round.
Round Nine (9):
The final round for the rapid event was more important to GM Slim Belkhodja than any of the other players, considering the fact that if he lost (which he was not willing to entertain), it would probably be the first time a Grandmaster would participate in a tournament of this nature, and be the only player to end with zero points. He was therefore full of zeal for the victory which he finally earned against IM Adu Oladapo in grinding fashion. Even though he remains at the bottom of the log, it was very important for him to get the win, which will hopefully spark a comeback in the blitz segment.
IM Andrew Kayonde fell to the brutal power of the clock in a winning position as IM Arthur made sure he pushed to the limit until Kayonde broke. Meanwhile, IM David Silva was still ruing his missed opportunities against GM Kenny Solomon earlier in the day, and he found the going against the African Champion to be too much for him. He crashed to the strength of the top dog of the tournament, who took no prisoners on the day.
GM Kenny Solomon was able to capitalize on GM Mohamed Haddouche’s low time to steal a draw in a losing endgame, but where a player had to play accurately.
In the final game of the day, IM Fy Rakotomaharo and IM El Adnani Mokliss played to an opposite colored bishop endgame, where they both chose not push too much and risk losing the game.
It was an interesting finish to the rapid portion of the tournament as GM Amin Bassem stood tall above all. He still needs to win a few games in the blitz however to ensure he takes home the first prize of $5,000.
GM Mohamed Haddouche will be on hand to give him stiff opposition while IM Fy Rakotomaharo and IM El Adnani Mokliss will also be trying to force their way into the top position. At the same time, the battle to not end the tournament at the bottom wil also be ongoing as a few wins or losses could change things at this side of the table.
Thank you for reading…. More to come soon about the side happenings of tournament and the CIV Minichess presentation.
The 10 participants at the 2018 CIV Rapid & Blitz Invitational were interviewed by WGM Alina L’ Ami prior to the start of the tournament. These interviews provide a fascinating glimpse into the minds of the top players on the continent.
GM Bassem Amin:
GM Kenny Solomon:
GM Amine Haddouche:
GM Slim Belkhodja:
IM Andrew Kayonde:
IM Fy Rakotomaharo:
IM David Silva:
IM Mokhliss El Adnani:
IM Oladapu Adu:
IM Arthur Ssegwanyi: