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 Methu, Jackson Kamau, CM Ben Magana, Martin Njoroge and Brian Adorwa.
People Living with Disabilities ( PLWD) include Kenya National Champion Sadam Ali and Alfred Simiyu.
The captain for the Open team is FM Steve Ouma and for the Ladies it is Moses Andiwoh.
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.
CM Ben Magana v GM Adly Ahmed
CM Ben Magana represented Kenya a second time in 2014 when Windhoek, Namibia, hosted the event.
Egypt – the powerhouse of African chess
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.
FM Patrick Kawuma is the sole player from Uganda. The other East African Community countries Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi, have not registered any players.
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.
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.
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.
Priyasha Shriyan, the 2020 Malawi National Champion, will also be in action in the event.
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
The Chess Association of Malawi (CHESSAM) was established in 1985.
Ms Susan Namangale is the President of the federation.
Makhosi Nyirenda is one of Malawi’s most famous chess player. He is the author of 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.
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.
English and Chichewa are the official languages of Malawi.
The Chewa and Yao are two of the biggest ethnic tribes in Malawi.
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.
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.