International Master Anwuli Daniel and sponsors have identified the Nigerian chess players under the age of twenty (20) as the most important cog that needs oiling in the Nigerian chess industry. For this reason, they have decided to put together a series of chess tournaments to keep them busy through this season.
Two of these events have been held in Port Harcourt and Abuja respectively and promising young guys and girls have been discovered so far. The next edition is billed to hold in Asaba over the weekend, and we would most likely be seeing more grit as the youngsters battle for supremacy.
Below are some individuals who would likely put up the biggest threat to the champions of the last two (2) editions.
It seemed like a “what is wrong with me?” moment, just after the Abuna edition, as he had to battle back after going behind in bizarre fashion. Followers and fans were dumbfounded when they saw the errors in the games he lost.
However, a few weeks after the end of the event, Callistus defeated those in his wake, to qualify for the Grand Finale of the DOA Sports Chess Tournament. Although he went on to lose his first game and end up 3rd, he would come back stronger.
Just a few weeks ago, Callistus participated in the Austin Apemiye Rapid tournament. Picking up a very nice win against Idara Emmanuel would have done him a world of good.
Considering the fact that Idara had a great tournament during the Abuja edition of this event, it would be a statement victory that “I am not giving up my spot that easily”.
It would be quite interesting to see his performance at the upcoming event in Asaba.
Ekunke Odey Goodness
At ten (10) years of age, Goodness already has several accolades and a video session with BBC. That is the extent of the brilliance of the young boy, who only needs more opportunities to shoot over and beyond the level he currently is.
Attending both the Port Harcourt and the Abuja edition of the Danhypro U-20 tournament is no mean feat.
Goodness has continued to battle against older boys and making statements with his performances.
Although he had two (2) boys who surprised him with brilliant plays, losing to them, it was his loss to Onoja Iyefu Joy that would go on to spark some renaissance in the kid.
Finishing the tournament with five and a half (5.5) points of the possible nine (9) would say the boy is doing well at ten (10) years. However, compared to his agemates in the world, he has not even begun.
Goodness has the ability to become a great chess player, both on the continent and on a global scale, but with the help of sponsors and supporters of this dream.
Some of the young guys making waves on the continent right now, (e.g GM Bilel Bellahcene and IM Rakotomaharo Fy) honed their chess trades in France. Others with grandmaster training and consistent competitive play against top players.
To get the best out of this boy, he needs to be in Europe, training with grandmasters, playing in tournaments where grandmasters are participating, having discussions with them, reading them, amongst others. This is the time.
But then, he faces yet another opportunity to show that he deserves such a support, as he takes on other talented youngsters who are seemingly ahead of him in terms of experience.
Suleiman Azumi Ayisha
A young girl whose story has continued to show Nigerians that you don’t have to be from the capital, neither do you have to come from the richest family, nor do you have to be a boy, for you to stand out in your chosen field of endeavor.
This year has been good for the young girl. Missing out on the Port Harcourt edition of the Danhypro U-20 tournament would have been a hard pill to swallow. However, when the event came to Abuja, she ensured that she left her Lokoja home and participated in the event.
Azumi did not only participate, she ended the tournament as the joint best female player alongside Onoja Iyefu Joy, with six (6) points of the possible nine (9). Azumi also had a tie break point that ensured that she finished in the top ten (8th) at the end of the event.
Just last weekend, in a field that had some of the best players in the South-South region of the country, Azumi only lost one game and drew another one, on her way to finishing a brilliant 4th place.
As long as she can continue developing, she is definitely one to watch out for during the upcoming Danhypro event in Asaba this weekend.
The Danhypro Under 20 (U-20) Chess Tour is aimed at helping to bring out young chess players from the various regions of the country, who are under the age of twenty (20). The event is also aimed at helping these young ones to hone their skills, evolve to become better and stronger as they play against each other ” iron sharpens iron”.
The best participating players from the Abuja event who finished with points above six and a half (6.5):
- Okeke Isaac.
- Okemakinde Toluwanimi.
- Idara Emmanuel.
- Olisa Tennyson.
- Adebayo Akinbodewa
- Lucky Musa.
They have been provided with free accommodation in a double room, at the beautiful Orchid Hotel and Suites, Asaba. Orchid Hotel will be the venue for the Asaba edition of the event and will accommodate as many of the junior players as possible.
Others who will be participating in the event can get accommodation within the venue, which is by no means compulsory.
The first two (2) editions of the Danhypro U-20 Chess Tour had different winners. Will a new winner also emerge in Asaba? Or will Okemakinde and Okeke stand out again?
A few for the future; with the right support and consistent play against harder opponents, the Nigerian juniors can indeed take the world by storm!