By Duncan Mlanjira
Chess Association of Malawi (CHESSAM) has written a strongly-worded letter to Africa Chess Confederation (ACC) to honour its K27,598,400 (US$30,000) bill it has with Golden Peacock Hotel in Lilongwe for hosting 2021 African Individual Chess Championship last month.
This follows the stand-off CHESSAM has between itself, ACC and FIDE Master Joseph Mwale over the player being dropped from participating at the FIDE World Cup in Sochi, Russia.
The decision to bar him forced the player to file a complaint to both ACC and the world chess governing body, FIDE while ACC censured CHESSAM for its decision.
But CHESSAM does not take kindly to the response from ACC, accusing it of bias and professional conduct.
Thus as a way forward, CHESSAM advices ACC to “reserve its focus, energy and resources” towards settling the Golden Peacock Hotel as the association is now on the verge of facing a law suit from the hotel”.
“The 2021 African Championship came before the Joseph Mwale’s World Cup Wild Card saga…but it is disheartening to note that two months down the line, ACC has not paid even a single penny to the hotel despite assuring CHESSAM that it would foot the bills for hosting the Championship.
CHESSAM also censures the African chess governing body that “as per section 2.6 of the ACC’s statutes — which provides for strict neutrality on the part of ACC in the internal affairs of national federations — we urge the ACC to leave the matter to the Malawi Chess federation and the local organs which are well capable of bringing the issue to an amicable conclusion”.
“Only if the available local remedies fail to bear fruits should the ACC come into the picture.
“Instead of supplying ‘weapons’ to Joseph, the ACC should support its affiliate CHESSAM in its efforts of reforming Joseph and modeling him into an African and World chess star.
“The matter at hand has exposed some gaps in the ACC constitution and the way ACC handles its operations. We request ACC to consider reviewing its statutes and be clear on the mandate of its commissions on member federations.”
CHESSAM maintains that Mwale was replaced purely on disciplinary grounds and that its decision was duly communicated to the player through his father who also doubles as his manager.
“The entire local chess fraternity was also informed about the issue. Out of respect for the player, CHESSAM did not want to disclose the reasons behind the replacement until some quarters, including the player, started spreading false information and attacking the CHESSAM leadership.”
The letter to ACC says CHESSAM is displeased with the allegations coming from the ACC itself that Mwale was victimized and ill- treated for being barred from traveling to Sochi, saying it has no intention to victimize the player or “ruin his blossoming career”.
“Joseph is our star player and our main hope for the future. At the same time, he is like a son to most of the members in CHESSAM Executive Board and Executive Committee.
“He comes from a chess family that has greatly contributed to the development of chess in Malawi. His father and manager is an honorary member of the association and commands a lot of respect from local chess followers because of the contribution he has made to Malawi Chess and his great personality.
“It will be barbaric for CHESSAM to re-pay the Mwale family by destroying the young man’s promising career.”
CHESSAM further reiterates ACC that its Executive Board “came up with a deliberate policy to support promising players including Joseph Mwale, who has all the potential to become a Grandmaster within the next few years.
“This, however, cannot be achieved if CHESSAM and its leadership tolerate any unbecoming behavior from Joseph or any other player [as] the game of chess teaches discipline and discipline leads to success.
“It is the wish of CHESSAM and all people of good-will in Malawi to model Joseph into a disciplined, successful and world-class chess player.
“Unfortunately, treating the boy with kid-gloves will not be the best approach in this venture,” says the letter, signed by general secretary Leonard Sharra and copied to FIDE Ethics Commission, Malawi National Council of Sports and Mwale himself.