CHESSAM embraces Checkmate Coronavirus online international chess initiative

By Duncan Mlanjira

Chess Association of Malawi (CHESSAM) has decided to promote an online international chess tournaments initiative which has been launched by the world chess governing body, FIDE as one way of supporting players as they spend long hours at home due to the preventive measures set to control the spread of Coronavirus.

CHESSAM president Susan Namangale

CHESSAM president Susan Namangale said FIDE has taken cognizance that the Coronavirus pandemic has caused an unprecedented global crisis and thus decided to support governments’ efforts around the world to promote the ideals of unity and solidarity, which must be manifested in such challenging times.

“From June 1 until June 15, CHESSAM has created tournament schedule on lichess.org named ‘Checkmate Coronavirus’ to be part of this initiative,” Namangale said. 

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“There will be tournaments three times a week — on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 19:00hrs — targeted at all chess players  regardless of age or level of play.”

She added that FIDE has organised a prize draw with 1,500 special prizes for all, inspired by the Olympic motto ‘Not To Just Win But To Take Part’.

Lichess.org app

“The idea is to give a winning chance to everyone and to reward involvement and participation.

“The major prize will consist of, at least, 64 one-week invitations for all participating federations to the 2021 Chess Olympiad in Moscow with flight and lodging expenses fully covered. 

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“Other prizes include souvenirs, tickets to chess workshops and mini-matches with grandmasters. 

“It is my hope that Malawian chess players will win some of these prizes.”

Meanwhile, Candidate Master (CM) Petros ‘Razorblade’ Mfune won the second edition of CHESSAM’s online Blitz Challenge sponsored by Mybucks Bank that was played on Sunday.

May champ Petros ‘Razorblade’ Mfune

According to CHESSAM publicity secretary Alfred Chinthere, Mfune — a member of Area 25 Castles chess club in Lilongwe — grabbed the gold medal ahead of another CM Paul ‘Terminator’ Khuphwathea, who is based in South Africa where he earns a living through teaching chess to school kids.

Enterprising Amos Chigowo completed the honoured list by coming third of the Open Section that had 11 rounds.

Joseph Mwale was the inaugural champion

The inaugural champion in April was Malawi’s highest rated player, Fide Master Joseph Mwale, who is also in South Africa teaching chess to school kids, finished on position eight.

Mfune netted 9.5 points and was undefeated as he won eight and drew three against Khuphwathea, Mangochi-based Precious Kamwendo and Polytechnic student Francisco Mwangupili.

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Khuphwathea, Chigowo and Leonard M’bwana accumulated 8 points each. However, they were separated using Bulcholz tie-break system that put M’bwana to be fourth.

The show in the ladies category was taken by Mzuzu-based duo of Annie George (6 points) and Tina Kumwenda on 5.5 to come first and second respectively. The ladies category had 7 rounds.

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It was a reversal of roles because Kumwenda won the inaugural tournament in April edition and George finished runner-up in that tourney.

Priyasha Shriyan, a student of Bishop Mackenzie International School, won bronze on 4 points, maintaining the position that she scooped in April.

Tina Kumwenda, ladies runner-up

Blessings Kamanga successfully defended the junior section title he won in April when he accumulated 6 points from 7 rounds.

He was closely followed Chichiri Secondary School student, Tupochele Mlanjira on 5.5 points while another Chichiri student, Praise Salima — who represented Malawi last year at Africa Schools tournament in Teyateyaneng, Lesotho — was third with 5 points.

The champion Kamanga, has just been selected to pursue Civil Engineering at the University of Malawi’s Polytechnic.

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In her remarks during the prize presentation ceremony guest of honour, Linda Simwaka, MyBucks Bank Marketing Manager, pledged continued financial support towards CHESSAM activities.

Namangale, hailed MyBucks bank for the sponsorship through various cash prizes.

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The sponsorship, at K1 million, was meant to be a physical tournament but was changed to online after the COVOD-19 global pandemic.

The online is being ably executed by International Arbiter Gilton Mkumbwa, who said a total of 61 players participated for the May edition.