By Duncan Mlanjira
Malawi’s top ranked chess player, Joseph ‘The Fear’ Mwale won the Malawi category of the international online tournament that was organised as an impromptu celebration of his birthday, that fell on Thursday, October 1.
The tournament attracted 272 players that included Egyptian Grandmaster, Adham Fawzy. Other foreign players were from South Africa, Nigeria and Zambia.
Mwale garnered enough points to clinch the Malawi category and came 8th in the foreign section that was won by the Egyptian Grandmaster Fawzy.
Second place in the foreign category is from South Africa; third is Nigerian and fourth is another South African, Tshediso Mpya — who is assistant coach for the online Joseph Mwale Chess Academy that he trains juniors together with Malawian Candidate Master (CM) Petros Mfune and Joseph’s brother CM George Mwale.
Runner-up in the Malawi category is Precious Kamwendo, third is Amos Chigowo, 4th Francisco Mwangupili while CM Mfune was 5th.
Best Female player is national team candidate Priyasha Shriyan and the Best Junior is Praise Kalambo.
Mwale said he is so overwhelmed with the response because of the fact that it was the players themselves who decided to honour him this way on his birthday.
“It really felt great to be recognised this way and I extend my deepest appreciation for this gesture which I don’t take for granted,” he said.
It all started when chess players were wishing birthday him wishes on Thursday on their whatsapp group that an idea suddenly was brought up to celebrate it in a special way through a tournament.
Chess Association of Malawi president Susan Mwale was first to make a pledge of K10,000 towards the event and quickly was followed suit by other members of Mwale Chess Academy with further contributions.
In the process, as more and more players confirmed their participation, Egyptian Grandmaster — a close friend to Joseph — got interested and asked if he could also participate.
In his birthday message, CM Petros Mfune said: “Happy birthday to the finest chess player in Malawi. To good health, success and maturity.”
To which Namangale responded: “That’s the word ‘Finest’! — if I am to say this about Jose.
“I have known Joseph when he was a very little boy, before he even became ‘The Fear’. I have seen him grow and perfect his chess skills as well as becoming a more responsible chess player helping in advancing the chess agenda.
“I have seen Jose improving in all aspects of his life, including exceptional behaviour — making him to be not only a fine chess player but a fine dad, husband, friend and a fine coach.
“May God keep perfecting you to achieve all that your heart desires,” Namangale said.
Joseph responded to this by applauding Namangale, Malawi’s first ever female chess president, for her inspiration role she has played for the sport, especially grooming players from the grassroots.
“You have inspired us to become better players and great leaders just like you are,” he said.
Malawi Chess Academy lessons are held every Thursdays and Sundays from 17:00hrs conducted on Zoom and Google Meet platforms and there tournaments for the students on Saturdays, whose top three winners get coaching for free in the next lesson.
Mwale, who is an African Online Champion, is in South Africa earning a living through playing and coaching chess.
He has trained many South Africans, who from scratch went on to attain titles that include that country’s top Under-18 champion, Candidate Master Keith Khumalo and FIDE Master Naseem Essa.
Soon after South Africa went on lockdown due to the outbreak of Coronavirus, the chess genius introduced an online tournament which he also involved Malawian youths and spurred him to launch his own online academy.
Mwale, who became a chess star in Malawi at a tender age of 8, is currently Gauteng North Under-20 coach.