By Muloyi Magenge
Candidate Master (CM) Chiletso Chipanga, who earlier this year was crowned African Chess Amateurs champion in Livingstone, Zambia, has closed 2018 in high spirits having won this year’s Chess Association of Malawi’s National Championship that took place over the weekend at Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe.
From nine rounds of play from Friday to Sunday, Chipanga won seven, drew one and lost one to garner 7.5 points and his runner-up was Fiskani Mwagomba on 6 points
Also on 6 points but coming third after a tie-break was Precious Kamwendo while CM Petros Mfune was 4th with 5.5 with Lumbani Banda on 5th with 5 points.
This has really been Chipanga’s year, who — after winning the African Amateurs — went on to participate at the World Amateurs in Cagriari, Italy where he finished 6th.
He also performed well at the World Chess Olympiad held in the Eastern European city of Batumi in Georgia and he was rightly voted as Chess Player of the Year.
In the ladies category, Women Fide Master (WFM) Linda Jambo Chaononga was the champion when she scored 8.5 points with newly-crowned Woman Candidate Master (WCM) Ellen Mpinganjira Mtemang’ombe as runner-up on 7 points.
Martha Kapalamula was third with 5.5, Jennifer Mwenebanda on 4th with 5.5 while veteran and also Chessam president Susan Namangale, showing she still is up to the task, scored 5 points to come third.
In Category B of those below 1800 in Elo Rating, Hope Mwazozo was champion with 8 points, Francisco Mwangupili on 2nd with 8 and Jonathan Ibrahim on 3rd with 6.5.
Chessam also made available special slots for juniors at the national championship that had Category D for Under 18 boys and girls.
Blessings Kamanga scored 6.5 to become champion for boys Under 18, Praise Kalambo came second with 5 and Allain Namangale on third also with 5 points.
Under 18 girls champion was Annie Simwaba (5 points), who was part of the Batumi squad and she was voted as Most Improved Junior Player in the girls category.
Category E for Under 14 boys went to 2017-18 Young Sportsperson of the Year, Yebo Sanga who scored 10.5 from 11 rounds, followed by Dakshesh Dutt on 9 and Aditya Chokaligham also on 9.
For Under 14 girls Lakshita Dutt was champion with 8 out of 8 rounds, Clara Mtumbuka and second with 5/8 and Priyasha Shriyan on third with 5/8 as well.
Chessam also awarded special prizes to the players who attained new international titles during the Batumi Olympiad and they were: Joseph Mwale ($250) for being elevated as FIDE Master (FM), his brother George Mwale ($125) as CM and Ellen Mpinganjira Mtemang’ombe ($125) as WCM.
Also awarded was veteran journalist Duncan Mlanjira, who was voted as Chess Journalist of the Year while Zodiak Broadcasting Corporation was awarded Chess Media House of the Year.
Most Improved Junior Player for boys was Blessings Kamanga, Most Improved Female Player was Desiderata Nkhoma and the Most Improved Player in general was Ken Forster.
In total there were 96 players who attended.
Guest of honour at the prize presentation was Minister of Labour, Sports, Youth, & Manpower Development, Grace Chiumia, who promised that the Government plans to establish academies for all sporting codes including chess.
She said she is a Minister for all sporting disciplines, minority codes inclusive, that is why she did not hesitate to attend the chess function coming straight from gracing the FISD Challenge Cup final at Bingu National Stadium between Silver Strikers and Mighty Be Forward Wanderers.
She encouraged the players to strive to be the ‘first’ in all their endeavors including sports.
Chessam president Namangale, thanked the Minister for availing herself at the chess awards, alluding that the last time a Minister attended a chess function was several years ago.
She thanked the Government, the corporate world, the media and all chess players for the support they give for the chess development.