The 5th Zanzibar Open Chess Tournament (ZOCT) is set to take place this weekend at the premises of the Zanzibar Disable Organization and all arrangements have been completed according to Chief Organizer and Interim Chairperson of Chess Zanzibar Ally Saleh.
The tournament being held after a lapse of 26 years since the last was staged in 1991 has attracted nearly 35 players from Zanzibar, Zambia, Tanzania Mainland and South Africa nationals residing in Zanzibar.
“This is really good turnout for the tournament which shows there strong chess culture around here” Saleh who is assisted by Ibrahim Abdul-Rahman in organizing said.
Saleh noted that it was not a surprise that Tanzania Mainland will send a strong delegation, “They have in place a very good chess development program with a strategic outreach and I believe they will soon be a force to reckon in Africa”.
The Tanzania Mainland team will include several players with chess world body (FIDE) rating. These include: Hemed Mlawa (1791), Nurdin Hassuji (1764), Godlove Kimaro (1695), Sunday Manara (1590), Kara Louis (1512), Mbwana Kojama (1507) and Ilyas Abdullah (1477).
However, the highest ranking player in the tournament will be Kangwa William of Zambia who is rated 1810. The two South African nationals are youngsters Brandan Stassen and sibling Keegan Stassen who are currently living in Zanzibar.
The Zanzibar team to be led by Ibrahim Abdul-Rahman will contain several young players who are making their debut and they include Sleyum Seif, Izmir Sabri, Muhamed Rajab, Mundhir Rashid, Saleh Mussa, Marshed Khalfan and the youngest competitor is expected to be the nine year old Isrin Sabri.
The Zanzibar Open, which Saleh says will be an annual calendar, is offering modest prizes of TSH 150,000, TSH 100,000 for senior winners and runners up, and TSH 50,000 for junior winner with Saleh hoping that the tournament will attain the status recognised by chess word body FIDE.
“If not this time we shall try our best for the next time. We want this tournament to be a respected one in the region and we will work hard for the recognition so that players come to compete to gain points,” he said.
The previous winners of Zanzibar Open were Eberhard Krain a German national then residing in Zanzibar who won three times straight and the last tournament in 1991 was won by then Kenyan Champion William Juma Arogo.
Sponsors for the tournament include Hurumzini Movie Cafe, Zan Link Company, Zanzibar School of Health (ZSH) and a five star hotel in the heart of the Stone Town the Park Hyatt.
Story submitted by Alley Saleh – Interim Chairperson of Zanzibar Chess.