Home Championships The 2023 Nigeria National Chess Championships: A Purpose Driven Event!

The 2023 Nigeria National Chess Championships: A Purpose Driven Event!

by Ogunsiku Babatunde

According to former world chess champion, Grandmaster Anatoly Karpov,

‘Chess is Everything: art, science and sport’.

– Grandmaster Anatoly Karpov

To understand this statement, is to understand what guides the hosts of the Nigeria National Chess Championships, Orchid-Lekki Chess Club (OLCC).

Founded in 2019, by a team of like-minds seeking to change the landscape of the Nigeria Chess Industry. OLCC quickly became the go-to organisation for quality chess tournaments, seeking the best for chess players, as well as the industry.

Chaired by the extremely devout and supportive Engineer Jonathan Odega, the Orchid-Lekki Chess Club made a bid to host the National Chess Championships in the aftermath of COVID-19.

L-R: FIDE Vice President, Adeyemi Olalekan; NCF President, DIG (Rtd.) Sani Mohammed mni.; Chairman of OLCC, Engineer Odega Jonathan, and NCF Vice President, Prince Adewole Adeyinka

The two-year hosting right bid was successful and the first edition was held at the Orchid Hotels, Orchid Road, Lekki-Ajah Expressway, in October 2021. It was an unforgettable chess festival with about fifteen-million-naira (N15,000,000) in prizes, close to five hundred (500) participants and over 2,000 visitors at the venue of the event.

A remarkable and transformative development was the unprecedented media exposure and the involvement of corporate sponsors. Orchid Hotels, Sterling Bank, Kellogg’s, Channels Television, Triumph Power and Gas Systems, Lagos State Advertising Agency (LASAA), were amongst a host of others who keyed into the purpose driven national chess event, as sponsors.

This indicated that corporate Nigeria was perhaps beginning to realize and acknowledge the education, social and sporting values embedded in the game of chess, as well as the vast potential of the intellectual sport in terms of impacting human and societal development.

From the very beginning, OLCC’s vision for the National Chess Championships was to use it as model for excellent chess organization, a platform for discovering and celebrating Nigerian chess talents, an inspiration for young chess players and a channel for social and education impact initiatives that chess is globally known to drive.

Big kudos to the Nigeria Chess Federation for observing this, and empowering OLCC to actualize the stated objectives. The Public-Private partnership (PPP) arrangement between the Nigeria Chess Federation and the visionary private chess club, is having momentous impact on the overall development of chess in Nigeria, attracting forward looking sponsors and offering a model for sporting events organization in the country.

The 2023 National Chess Championships

Taking lessons from the first two (2) editions, the organizing team has decided to make the 2023 edition of the National Chess Championships one to remember.

New qualification criteria have been proposed and approved (by the Nigeria Chess Federation) to make the championship more competitive and inclusive. Rather than just following the pattern of selecting players based on their rating at a certain time of the year, those who will be invited must now play a minimum required number of FIDE rated games. The purpose is to keep the players fresh and active for the championships.

A ‘Qualifying Tournament’ has been introduced, so that furtherance to playing a specified number of rated games, those who are not in the upper echelon (Top 5) of the sport, who otherwise are victorious at zonal championships (among a variety of events and specifications) will participate in the qualifying tournament.

Those who qualify from this event will then join the top-rated players to battle for the 2023-2024 crown of the Nigeria National Chess Champion and the Nigeria National Women’s Chess Champion.

L-R: Defending Champion, FM Adebayo Adegboyega; President of OLCC, Mr Kasumu Olakunle; Defending Women’s National Champion, WFM Ogbiyoyo Perpetual

More than ever, the Orchid-Lekki Chess club is ensuring that the 2023 National Chess Championships will focus on the education and social impact potential of chess. Partnerships are being established with organizations, such as: Chess in Slums Africa, Promoting Queens and Education Ministries, etc, to ensure that Chess in Slums kids, women /girls in less privileged circumstances and public-school students will receive sponsorships to participate at the National Chess Championships in 2023.

These initiatives are being worked on, to leverage on chess as a social and education impact tool, and consequently, aid national development, as well as citizen re-orientation.

Orchid Hotel – Venue for The National Chess Championships

Considering the fact that the partnership between the Nigeria Chess Federation and Orchid-Lekki Chess Club in organizing the National Chess Championships has been extended till 2025; this signifies an immediate future with bright prospects for chess and its development in the country.

This also provides an opportunity for the OLCC to continually improve the quality of organization. This also allows them to explore the many social and developmental benefits of the globally loved sport called Chess.

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John K. Jallah Jr. May 16, 2023 - 7:01 am

Congratulations to the Nigerian Chess federation and that of ORCHID LEKKI CHESS CLUB for the novelty bought to the game.

Job A. May 16, 2023 - 7:45 am

Well articulated. Sincerely witnessing the spectacle is a wonderful Experience. Things can and will only get better if they continue this way. Kudos to the team across board.

Phillips Udoh May 16, 2023 - 7:49 am

The landscape is gradually changing… we’re gathering the critical velocity to push through the barriers… Kudos to a listening NCF leadership and the OLCC’s visionary outlook. May the wind of change blow across the entire country! 👏👏

Sunny Eyenghe May 16, 2023 - 8:31 am

Great feat, nice one to NCF and OLCC

Bigpawn09 May 16, 2023 - 11:16 am

Good partnership I must say, with good delivery

LAWAL BOLAJI September 5, 2023 - 4:10 pm

Pls i need assistance on the location of the chess competition within Gbagada

Ogunsiku Babatunde September 5, 2023 - 4:27 pm

It will be holding at Chevron Recreation Centre. However, you would need your name submitted ahead of time to gain access into the venue.


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