Central Region reigns supreme in CHESSAM National championship

Priyasha (left) and Chinthere with CHESSAM president Namangale

* CM Alfred Chimthere clinches title in men’s section

* Under-14 starlet Priyasha Shriyan triumphs in ladies’

* CM George Mwale takes third place in men’s

* CM Chiletso Chipanga saves SRCL by coming third

* CHESSAM Championship richly highlighted in Kenya

By Duncan Mlanjira

Candidate Master (CM) Alfred Chinthere clinched the 2020 Chess Association of Malawi (CHESSAM) National Championship title and was joined by fellow Central Region League representative, CM George Mwale in third place and Under-14 starlet Priyasha Shriyan, who won the ladies section.

Third-placed CM George Mwale

All three top positions in the ladies section were taken by CRCL representatives as another junior player, Shalom Kapende came second with Woman Candidate Master (WCM) Ellen Mpinganjira clinching third place.

And that is not all — there was also a Veterans’ section and it was taken by CRCL representative, Ackim Mwale, who happens to be father to the highest rated player Fide Master (FM) Joseph and his brother CM George Mwale.

Shalom Kapende

Candidate Master Chiletso Chipanga saved SRCL’s face by coming second on 6.5 points while Mwale was third on 6 points. Northern Region was nowhere near the prizes but the only consolation was in Sekani Soko — who drew with the eventual champion Chinthere in the very first game.

From nine rounds of chess, Chimthere amassed 7.5 points and his wins included against fellow Candidate Masters Chiletso and George Mwale as well as fellow CRCL reps, Ernest Matola, Francisco Mwangupili and Precious Kamwendo.

Veteran Ackim Mwale

Priyasha Shriyan, whom the chess fraternity is fondly being connected with what FM Joseph Mwale achieved when he became an icon by winning the National championship way back in 2007 whilst at Kabwabwa Primary School in Lilongwe, is a student at Bishop Mackenzie International School (BMIS).

She is also a student of the online Mwale Chess Academy, which FM Joseph established and is managed together with his brother CM George, CM Petros Mfune and a South African friend, Tshediso Mpya.

CM Chiletso Chipanga saved SRCL’s face

Priyasha tormented her opponents with relative ease and bossed the ladies section that had seasoned players such as WCM Mpinganjira Woman Fide Master (WFM) Linda Chaononga, and the fellow up-and-coming juniors Shalom Kapende, Tapiwa Banda and Praise Mbewe.

She scooped 7.5 points out of 9, ahead of Kapende with 6.5 points and WFM Mpinganjira on third.

WCM Ellen Mpinganjira

She went away with MK150,000 cash, a glittering trophy and a gold medal while Chinthere won MK200,000, a glittering trophy and a gold medal, whereas Chipanga got MK150,000 plus a silver medal with Mwale pocketing MK100,000 and a bronze medal. 

ln the Veterans’ section, chess guru Ackim Mwale turned back the hands of time to clinch the category with 3 points with Stan Juma on second place also on 3 points but were separated using a tie-break system.

Former CHESSAM vice-president, Mark Chikoko rounded up the podium finish on third position.

Minister Kambala came 5th in Veterans category

Guest of honour at the prize presentation was Minister of Energy Newton Kambala, who hailed the swift management of the event and acknowledged that CHESSAM is one of the most organised sports disciplines associations in the country.

A player himself and a sponsor of the sport, Kambala participated in the Veterans’ section and finished on 5th position.

CHESSAM president Susan Namangale commended the championship’s sponsors — Malawi National Councillor of Sports; Crossroads Hotel, MyBucks Bank and Ministers Newton Kambala and Kezzie Msukwa (former CHESSAM president) for the financial support that is helping the sport gain more enthusiastic players, especially at grassroots level.

She said CHESSAM has been active throughout the year, despite the devastating impact posed by COVID-19 pandemic during this period but remained active and innovative by organising online chess tournaments.

CM Joseph Mwale could not defend title

CHESSAM also awarded certificates of recognition to Polytechnic student Francisco Mwangupili and Information Technology (IT) specialist Ernest Matola for their voluntary expertise in assisting chess activities.

The rest of the players who took part in the tournament, about 50 in total, were given certificates of participation.

FM Joseph Mwale, who became a chess star in Malawi at a tender age of 8 and is currently in South Africa as Gauteng North Under-20 coach, could not make it to defend his title due to logistical challenges.

Player of the moment, Priyasha Shriyan

But CHESSAM still recognised him as he was voted Best Male Player of the Year while Shriyan was voted the best in the female category.

The 2020 National chess tournament is the biggest chess fiesta on the Chessam calendar year and the champion Chinthere — who is CHESSAM publicity secretary, said they were impressed that the tournament unveiled a number of junior players who not only brushed shoulders with the country’s elite players, but gave them a good run for their money.

“Among the juniors, Lilongwe-based Praise Kalambo and Shalom Kapende finished with an impressive chess score record,” he said. “This is an indication that CHESSAM’s  focus on grassroots chess is bearing fruits for the sustainabilty of youth development.”

Coverage in Kenya Chess Masala

Meanwhile, online publication, Kenya Chess Masala richly highlighted the outcome of the CHESSAM National Championship, saying it was intriguing that the champion is CHESSAM publicity secretary.

It went further to indicate that Malawi has participated in seven consecutive Chess Olympiads from 2006 to 2018 and that FM Joseph Mwale is the highest-rated player at 2148.

Kenya Chess Masala coverage

Kenya Chess Masala also highlighted interesting facts about Malawi, that it was established as Nyasaland during the British Protectorate in 1889 and changed to Malawi in 1964 at independence.

“Scottish settlers in 1876 founded Blantyre which is the second-largest city in Malawi,” the online said. “It was named it in honour of Blantyre in Scotland, which was the explorer David Livingstone’s birthplace. 

“Lake Malawi is the third largest lake in Africa. The nickname of the lake is ‘Calendar Lake‘ because, it is 365 miles long and at its widest point, 52 miles wide.”

Apart from pictures of the CHESSAM event, the online also posted pictures of Lake Malawi and Malawi Parliament Building in Lilongwe.

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