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The Inspiring Journey of an African Chess IM

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Born on the 2nd of August, 1987, he was raised in the dusty streets of Mabvuku, Zimbabwe. Like every kid, he played the plastic ball, but he only produced his best when he played the game of chess, which he started at the age of twelve (12). He had his early school years up to grade six (6), at Batanai Primary School, while his secondary school years were spent at Msengezi high school, in Chegutu region of Zimbabwe, which he completed at the Prince Edward school, Harare, Zimbabwe.


Picture from: http://africanchesslounge.blogspot.com.ng/2011/12/rodwell-kotov-makoto-on-obstacles-to.html

As a form one (1) student, Makoto broke into the senior chess team at Mabvuku high school, alongside his good friends Lloyd Moyo and Elisha Chimbamu. Makoto won the National Junior Chess Championships and also provided a scintillating performance in South Africa when they represented Msengezi in a school’s team tournament to become the first school in the Southern part of Africa to win gold medal at the event.

The cabinet of the young African is full of trophies of both local and international accolades. Moving to South Africa greatly helped to develop his game, as he became the force he was meant to be. He provided coaching services and also studied Computer Engineering in the University. He won the Senior Men’s National Championships on five (5) occasions, stemming from the years 2007, 2011, 2012, 2015, and rounded it off with a brilliant performance to win it in 2016, becoming the first and only Zimbabwean to win the National Championships for a record five (5) times.


IM Rodwell Makoto. Picture Courtesy: http://chessnewsbd.blogspot.com.ng/2013/07/

His attacking prowess, combined with his understanding of transition points from opening to middlegame to endgame, has produced a lot of positive results for him. In 2006, Makoto finished third (3rd) place at the 16th Africa Junior Chess Championships in Gaborone, Botswana. His major achievement at International level was winning the South Africa Open in 2012, ahead of GM Ahmed Adly, even though they were tied on the same points of nine (9) out of the possible eleven (11), Makoto winning the tournament on tie-break rules gave him an important international tournament win.


Young Malawian Wonderkid Joseph Mwale (The Fear) playing against IM Rodwell Makoto. Picture Courtesy: http://chesskzn.blogspot.com.ng/2014/07/mandela-67-mins-chess-report-by-sandile.html

He has been a part of three (3) Olympiads, which includes the 40th Chess Olympiad in Instanbul, Turkey (2012), the 41st Chess Olympiad in Tromso, Norway (2014) and the 42nd Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan (2016). This afforded him the opportunity to play against some of the world’s best players, such as the second highest rated player in the world (at the time) GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, as well as the former FIDE world champion GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov. Makoto lost against Mamedyarov, even though he had a better position in the game, and it is believed that the level of experience needed to win that particular game had to have been high for the Azerbaijani top Grandmaster to prevail over Makoto. Makoto is a three (3) time Sportsman of the Year, in Zimbabwe and in 2013, he was voted second at the Zimbabwe Sports Person of the Year event, just behind Dejong the golfer, who had an awesome year, to take home the award.


IM Rodwell Makoto (Left) against GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. Picture Courtesy: David Llada

Makoto picked up a draw against the greatest British Grandmaster of the 20th century, GM Nigel Short, at the South Africa Open, in 2015. This was an important achievement for him and according to Makoto: “this was one of my best games against a top Grandmaster”. This game can be found on the link below:



IM Rodwell Makoto preparing for Blitz! Picture Courtesy: Guateng Chess Facebook Page

After a bismal performance at the The Boardwalk Pearson – IM Norm tournament in March, early this year, where he finished with a mere three and a half points (3.5) out of the possible nine (9) games.


Winners and Sponsors at the end of the Arnold Classic! Picture Courtesy: Guateng Chess Facebook Page

Makoto returned to winning ways at the Arnold Classic tournament in South Africa, finishing joint second, but third on tie breaks, as Grandmaster Sahaj Grover continued his dominance of the Southern region.

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