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The 2021 African Individual Chess Championship

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The 2021 African Individual Chess Championship

The 2021 African Individual Chess Championship (AICC) is taking place in Lilongwe, Malawi, from 18th to 28th May 2021.

Benard Wanjala, the Chess Kenya President, has announced a strong team that will take part in this prestigious event. 

The bulk of the team members comprise players from the selection event of the 2020 Olympiad Qualifiers. Chess Kenya in addition came up with an exciting idea of allotting two slots for People Living with Disabilities ( PLWD).

The players in the Open section include Joseph MethuJackson KamauCM Ben MaganaMartin Njoroge and Brian Adorwa.

Brian Adorwa who will be making his maiden appearance for Kenya. Photo credit Kim Bhari.
Brian Adorwa who will be making his maiden appearance for Kenya. Photo credit Kim Bhari.

The players in the Ladies section include WCM Joyce NyaruaiWFM Sasha Mongeli and WCM Lucy Wanjiru who is the 2019 Kenya National Ladies Champion.

People Living with Disabilities ( PLWD) include Kenya National Champion Sadam Ali and Alfred Simiyu.

Sadam Ali the PLWD Kenya National Champion who will face a baptism of fire in his first continental event.
Sadam Ali the PLWD Kenya National Champion who will face a baptism of fire in his first continental event.

The captain for the Open team is FM Steve Ouma and for the Ladies it is Moses Andiwoh.

Ben Nguku, Ricky Sang, Gohil Mehul, Philip Singe & Madelta Glenda, some of the prequalified players, were not available.

The team is currently at the plush Golden Tulip Hotel, Westlands undergoing intensive training until departure. 

Kenya has been represented in this prestigious event a total of 3 times in the past.  

The first time was in 2007, in Windhoek, Namibia. CM Ben Magana then sensationally defeated ‘Simba wa Misir‘ (Lion of Egypt) GM Adly Ahmed despite being rathed 300 Elo points lower!

CM Ben Magana v GM Adly Ahmed

CM Ben Magana the GM slayer and top player from Kenya seen in action during the 2018 Batumi Olympiad. Photo credit Kim Bhari.
CM Ben Magana the GM slayer and top player from Kenya seen in action during the 2018 Batumi Olympiad. Photo credit Kim Bhari.

CM Ben Magana represented Kenya a second time in 2014 when Windhoek, Namibia, hosted the event. 

CM Ben Magana, James Panchol and Martin Njoroge played in the 2016 edition in Kampala, Uganda.

Egypt – the powerhouse of African chess

Can he add his sixth continental title? GM Dr Bassem Amin of Egypt in action during the 2018 Batumi Olympiad. Photo credit Kim Bhari.
Can he add his sixth continental title? GM Dr Bassem Amin of Egypt in action during the 2018 Batumi Olympiad. Photo credit Kim Bhari.

The powerhouse of African chess Egypt is sending seven players led by 5-time winner GM Dr Bassem Amin.  It is interesting to note that Egypt have won the Open section of this event a record 11 times out of 16 editions.

Other top players include GM Adly Ahmed and GM Adham Fawzy, both of Egypt. GM Bilel Bellahcene and GM Mohamed Haddouche, both of Algeria are the other top players.  Undoubtedly the Algerians will be seeking to end the Egyptian dominance of this event.

Will he stop the Egyptian? GM Bilel Bellahcene of Algeria seen in action during the 2018 Batumi Olympiad. Photo credit Kim Bhari.
Will he stop the Egyptian? GM Bilel Bellahcene of Algeria seen in action during the 2018 Batumi Olympiad. Photo credit Kim Bhari.

FM Patrick Kawuma is the sole player from Uganda. The other East African Community countries Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi, have not registered any players.

FM Patrick Kawuma on his way to victory at the 10th Capablanca Cup in Nairobi, Kenya. Photo credit Kim Bhari.
FM Patrick Kawuma on his way to victory at the 10th Capablanca Cup in Nairobi, Kenya. Photo credit Kim Bhari.

Malawi’s hopes in this event centre on two of their players. CM Alfred Chimthere the 2020 Malawi National Chess Champion, and Joseph Mwale, the winner of the 2018 Mdina Open.

The Open section has 72 players from 19 federations. 

The prize fund for the Open section is an impressive USD 16,500 with the top prize being USD 5,000.  In addition the top four players will be eligible to play in the 2021 World Cup which is set for Sochi, Russia in July 2021.

Ladies Section African Individual Chess Championship

The Ladies Section has also attracted some of Africa’s best players.

WGM Shahenda Wafa (2145) of Egypt is the top rated player.  She is a two winner of the African Individual Chess Championship (2017 & 2018). Her sister Shrook Wafa, on the other hand, has won the event three times (2013, 2014, and 2016) but will miss this year’s event.

WGM Shahenda Wafa of Egypt who is seeking her third continental title. Photo credit Satish Deshpande.
WGM Shahenda Wafa of Egypt who is seeking her third continental title. Photo credit Satish Deshpande.

It is interesting to note once again that Egypt have won the Ladies section a record 8 times out of 12 editions.

WIM Sabrina Latreche of Algeria (2076) and WIM Ayah Moaataz of Egypt (2028) are ranked second and third respectively.

2019 Kenya National Ladies Champion WFM Lucy Wanjiru.
2019 Kenya National Ladies Champion WFM Lucy Wanjiru.

Lorita Mwango of Zambia, Perpetual Ogbiyoyo of Nigeria and WIM Caxita Esperanca of Angola are the only players expected to stop the North African nations from dominating the medal slots.

WCM Joyce Nyaruai of Kenya is making her second appearance at this continental event.  She made her maiden appearance in the  2016 edition held in Kampala, Uganda where she scored a respectable 4 out of 9 points. 

WFM Joyce Nyaruai one of the top Kenyan players who are taking part. Photo credit Kim Bhari.
WFM Joyce Nyaruai one of the top Kenyan players who are taking part. Photo credit Kim Bhari.

Priyasha Shriyan, the 2020 Malawi National Champion, will also be in action in the event.

Nadezda Marochkina the National Champion of Senegal who will be taking part as well.
Nadezda Marochkina the National Champion of Senegal who will be taking part as well.

Kenyan ladies have made tremendous progress in the past decade, especially in African events. The event will give the three starlets invaluable experience against some of Africa’s best lady players.

The prize fund for the Ladies section is USD 7,500 with the top prize being USD 3,000.

Chess facts about Malawi

Logo of the Chess Association of Malawi.
Logo of the Chess Association of Malawi.

The Chess Association of Malawi (CHESSAM) was established in 1985.

Ms Susan Namangale is the President of the federation.  

Ms Susan Namangale the President of the Chess Association of Malawi.
Ms Susan Namangale the President of the Chess Association of Malawi.

Makhosi Nyirenda is one of Malawi’s most famous chess player.  He is the author of two chess books!

Malawi's most famous chess son Makhosi Nyirenda with his two chess books.
Malawi’s most famous chess son Makhosi Nyirenda with his two chess books.

Malawi has participated in seven consecutive Chess Olympiads from 2006 to 2018. The ladies team have played in four Chess Olympiads (2010, 2014, 2016 & 2018).

FM Joseph Mwale is the highest-rated player at 2148.

Malawi has about 160 players registered with FIDE.

Interesting facts about Malawi

The British in colonial times ruled the territory under whose control it was known first as British Central Africa and later Nyasaland.

It became part of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland

The protectorate was dissolved in 1964.  Nyasaland then became an independent country with Malawi as the new name.

Lilongwe is the capital city of Malawi.

National Assembly building in Lilongwe. Photo credit www.kiddle.co.
National Assembly building in Lilongwe. Photo credit www.kiddle.co.

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

Malawi has a population of 18 million.

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.

Lake Malawi. Photo credit www.kiddle.co.
Lake Malawi. Photo credit www.kiddle.co.

English and Chichewa are the official languages of Malawi.

The Chewa and Yao are two of the biggest ethnic tribes in Malawi.

Malawian Kwacha (MWK) is the official currency. The exchange rate is MWK 775 to the USD.

Malawi’s flag is horizontally striped black-red-green. Black represents the people, red represents the blood shed for freedom while green the land. The rising sun symbolises a new dawn.

The Malawi flag.
The Malawi flag.

Malawi is home to one of the richest concentration of rock art in Africa. The UNESCO-listed Chongoni Area features rock art sites from the late Stone Age.  The paintings are about 40,000 years old according to experts.

Chongoni Rock Art Area. Photo credit www.kiddle.co.
Chongoni Rock Art Area. Photo credit www.kiddle.co.