The Zambia Closed tournament of 2019 produced some very interesting results! It was the Candidate Master Spencer Masango’s scintillating performance which left many players and onlookers amazed by the type of a rare performance which was in fact a superb performance. He finished with a perfect 8 games out of the 8 games played making it the first time a Zimbabwean defied the Zambians in their own backyard!

The lion roared in a place which is not it’s natural habitat. One player opined, “congratulations Spencer Masango this was the greatest achievement in Zimbabwe chess to dominate Zambia in their own backyard”.

On his way to glory he travelled in a rocky and patchy road to the most famous victory of his lifetime. This was not a mean achievement considering that this was a tournament with some of the highly rated players. The highest rated player for the tournament was FIDE Master Douglas Munenga whose rating was far more than that of Candidate Master Spencer Masango.

This was an eight round chess tournament which was held in Lusaka, Zambia. Spencer Masango declared war aginst the much fancied Zambian troops while he was the lonely Zimbabwean who fearlessly took the war to the Zambians.

In round one of the tournament he played against Sakala Richard who he defeated and declared his intentions of winning the tournament. In round two he was paired against Sakala Ronald who also lost the game making the tally get to two points. Round three he played against Chibaba Afford and Masango won. Round four which was half way of the tourney he cruised to four points. Kantalamba Mushota lost in round four to Spencer again! Zulu Thomas was paired against Spencer Masango in round five and Spencer continued with his fine run leading to an unprecedented lead which left many tongues wagging. The Zambians asked for more from the players who were in the battlefield. Their hopes were now pinned on Michael Kaoma in round six in an effort to stop the powerful, steady and very thoughtful experienced Zimbabwean player. Michael Kaoma could not handle Spencer in the game and he had no option but to resign after failing to contain the unstoppable ‘Spoonman’ during play. He went on to round five on a perfect score!

Candidate Master James Dimba and the winner of the Amateurs’ under 2300 which was held in Namibia. Many hopes were on this Mathematician that he was going to stop CM Spencer Masango from running away with the title. Spencer made some very powerful moves which led him to another historic win and the win was a bold statement to all the players in the battlefield.

The Zambians pinned all their hopes on FIDE Master Douglas Munenga who was the highest rated player of the tournament. This was a mammoth task left for the experienced young FIDE Master against another experienced and one of Zimbabwe’s most travelled players.

FM Douglas Munenga found the going tough in the field of play and this left the Zimbabwean player as the sole winner of the tournament with a perfect score. FM Douglas Munenga was on 6 points and it was all left at his mercy to clobber CM Spencer Masango but this was not to be as he was clobbered and the Zambian pride which was at stake was taken. There was a lot of noise, on social media that is, Facebook chess groups as well as WhatsApp groups.

Some Zambians players cried foul and were so ashamed of their performance. This was a first performance of its own kind from a Zimbabwean player after a long time. This performance is a result of the hard work the disciplined player has exhibited as he has played in tournaments in India, South Africa, Botswana and of late he also took part in the Zambian chess league.

In the Zambian chess league he played along the likes of International Master Andrew Kayonde. IM Kayonde could not hide his joy after his teammate came out tops in this star-studded tournament and also prevailed in some subtle positions.

In the ladies section Lorita Mwango won the ladies section with a perfect score. This tournament mirrored the results in the Open section. She defeated all her opponents and this was a unique result for the tournament. The winner dedicated the win to her husband and a baby boy. She failed to travel to Batumi, Georgia as she was expecting and this was a great come back for a player who was on sabbatical for some months. Makoto is on fire in Madagascar as he managed to defeat the leader of the tournament who was leading with four points. He caught up with the leader International Master and the highly rated player with a rating of 2410 International Master Rakotomaharo Fy Antenaina. They played together in round five and IM Makoto clobbered the highest rated player in a scintillating game.

James Vhezha performed well in South Africa at the Capablanca as he came second in the B section of the Capablanca Chess tournament. The FA- Elect is doing well in these tournies. IM Makoto came third in the IM Norm section of the Capablanca section.

Meanwhile Botswana send the youthful players to represent them in the zone 4.3 African Zonal Chess Championships.The youthful players representing Botswana are; Natalie Banda and WFM Naledi Marape. The tournament started on the 26th of April ending on the 5th of May, 2019.

*Article was edited to reflect the correct tournament played which was the Zambian closed and not the Easter Open.

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