Many in Nigeria are aware of the lack of over-the-board (OTB) chess tournaments in the country. Along with the boom of Online Chess, which has taken the world by storm (since the premiere of The Queen’s Gambit), chess tournaments have been few and far between.
Asides being few, chess tournament prizes have also reduced over time, and the love of the game has been what has kept most chess players active.
Over the Easter weekend, however, there were tournaments in both Lagos and Enugu (and it would have been more, if not for the National Sports Festival), which were attended by top chess players in the country.
The VLT Enterprise through the V⚡️LT GAMES (a subsidiary of the enterprise) put together the event to harness the potential of chess, and show that we can have well paying chess tournaments in a conducive environment once more.
Yours truly was in Nsukka, Enugu state, to witness and participate in the maiden event of the V⚡️LT Games. Here is their story.
Going into the tournament, Fide Master Osunfuyi Abimbola was the favorite to win it. He showed why that was, with a super convincing display on the top board.
A plethora of national chess players was on show at this event. Players came in, to the Eastern region of the country from the North, South, and West, to lay claim on a share of the five hundred thousand naira (N500,000) total cash pool.
The tournament was organized as a nine (9) round Swiss pairing Blitz tournament, slated to start and end on the same day, Saturday, 3rd of April.
After the first four (4) rounds, the trio of FM Osunfuyi Abimbola, Ezeanya Ikechukwu (from Kaduna), and 16-year-old Candidate Master Okeke Isaac were the only ones with a perfect 4/4 points.
The 4th round presented an interesting duel on the top board. The young data scientist, ACM Iwuozor John was trying to make a name for himself on the top board, where he was an officer up against the top seed.
John eventually lost the game, after the FM complicated the position, going the Tal way (where 1+1=3 and the only way out is wide enough for 1). It was a game that thought the young man the value of giving back a piece to retain your advantage and win the game.
Wins over CM Okeke Isaac and yours truly in the 5th round left the top spot for both FM Osunfuyi Abimbola and Ezeanya Ikechukwu respectively.
It was a fairly straightforward win for the Fide Master in the 6th round, as his opponent was unable to match his prowess and understanding in an interesting duel.
Yours truly and 16-year-old CM Okeke Isaac claimed straight victories (on boards 4 and 5 respectively) to join those on boards 2 and 3 who drew their games and head into the 8th round with 5.5/7.
Round 8 presented an opportunity for Okeke Isaac to play his first tournament game against yours truly, and it was an interestingly intense game.
Having had a not so good opening (the white side of the O’Kelly variation in the Sicilian opening) and middle game, the young CM was holding on (playing on tricks and hope that I would make an error) for whatever would come his way.
At the end, I did not just play a wrong move that I could recover from, I made a resignation move, and duly resigned after his immediate response.
However, in the final round, Adejoh Joshua (from Kaduna) dealt the same blow to the young CM, as the Kaduna based national player overcame the barrage of attacks and dealt a heavy loss on the young man.
After coming out victorious in his first eight (8) rounds of the tournament, Round 9 saw FM Osunfuyi Abimbola eventually bowing to the seeming speed of the Abuja based Cole Michael Christopher, who secured his sole 2nd place with the victory.
We will be providing pictorial updates for the Nigerian National Sports Festival, which starts today, in the powerful city of Benin.
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