By Duncan Mlanjira
Chess Association of Malawi (Chessam) says much as they are shocked with the announcement through the media that South Africa-based Malawian firm, Mdina Engineering of its withdrawal of sponsorship of the lucrative annual Malawi Chess Open, it will pursue further dialogue with the sponsor to honour just the last tournament he pledged to do during last year’s 9th edition.
Sponsor Tione Mdina is quoted in the local media as saying it is a point of no return with chess he has been supporting for nine years since 2009, saying he is considering supporting other deserving sports disciplines.
“Unforeseen circumstances have cause an abrupt end to the Mdina Marathon,” Tione is quoted as saying.
However, in a statement, Chessam publicity secretary Alfred Chinthere says there has always been a ‘contact and dialogue’ approach to the sponsor and that since last year’s event effort has been made to persuade Mdina to rescind his decision and continue sponsoring beyond this year (2019).
“Chessam submitted all related correspondences to the sponsor and has waited patiently for confirmation of this year’s Mdina tournament. In regard to the article in the newspaper, Chessam will seek a proper communication from the sponsor, using contact and dialogue as a remedy.
“Suffice to say that the media article will not be construed by Chessam as such notice. We are keeping our lines open for discussions [because] Chessam appreciates the support Mdina has given all these years, which has improved the game of chess in Malawi.”
At a prize presentation of the tournament last year, Mdina’s representative, Jeka Chipofya, had disclosed that to celebrate the 10th edition of the Malawi Chess Open, the winner in the Open Section shall go home with a cool MK1 million.
The 9th edition was won South Africa-based Malawian Joseph Mwale carried the flag high ahead of compatriots and players from Mozambique and Zambia to become the first Malawian to lift the trophy since it turned international in 2016.
In that year Zambia Candidate Master (CM) Godwin Phiri won it and the following year the feat was achieved by another Zambian, International Master (IM) Chitumbo Mwali.
The tournament was introduced in 2009 for local players only and the sponsor decided to make it international to expose the Malawian players further and it has reaped its fruits.
One proud product of the Mdina Open is national and African Amateur champion, CM Chiletso Chipanga, who won it in 2012 when it was for local players and came third in the 2018 edition.
Chiletso was crowned African Amateurs champion in Zambia in February last year and he qualified for World Amateurs that were held in Cagliari, Italy where he finished an impressive 6th position out of 49 participants.
PA senior international tournament in progressOut of nine rounds played at the World Amateurs, Chipanga won six and lost three to garner six points, just one point behind eventual winner, Singh Arvider Preet of India, who had 7 points tieing with Galavato Miguel Angel of Colombia, who came second.
Through his commitment to chess, it attracted the attention of All Africa Chess Federation, who awarded sponsor Tione Mdina with the honour of the 11th Wonder of African Chess for being the first African sponsor to flight a chess billboard in an African city advertising the Malawi Open.
Also recognised by All Africa Chess was Joseph Mwale, who is the 8th Wonder for being the youngest ever chess champion of an African country in 2007 at the age of 13.
According to africachessmedia.com, the other player closest to breaking this record was Namibian champion Dante Beukes, who became Namibian champion at age 14.