THE 2021 AIOCC –A ZONE 4.5 PERSPECTIVE

Despite a few hiccups, here and there, the first Africa Online Individual Chess Championship was a great event that was well patronized. But, as usual , North African countries were  ubiquitous in the top 10s of almost all the sections. But how many did Zone 4.5 contribute to the top 10s of the event per section? …and were there any other sparks of brilliance from the Zone? …and ,more importantly, what does the future hold for the Zone?

For a background of the Zone. On Africa chess map , the  Zone has proved to be a home of some of the best chess brains in Africa, as it  has contributed  2 of the 10 Africa grandmasters  in Amon Simutowe  of Zambia 2009 and Solomon Kenny of RSA 2017 . It also produced the first  Africa Woman Grandmaster  in Tuduetso Sabure of Botswana  in 2005. It also boasts of Africa Champion Robert Gwaze in 2007 .So we are talking about a zone which is alive in every sense.

Wonder girl Besa in action

The best Zone 4.5 performance of the event was that of Botswana’s WFM  Besa Masaiti ,who clinched silver in the junior ladies category after amassing 7 points out of 9 to pocket  $200. To say the least about the girl, she was generally fluent at all phases of the games. Her eye for tactics and strategy formulation was also top notch, giving us hope that the future is bright for Africa.

Very deadly!! Here is one  tactical shot that Besa  spurted out against Davida Strong of RSA

The junior girls section was generally the best for Zone 4.5 , as South Africa’s Davida Strong also clinched Bronze with 6.5 points plus a cheque of $100. Other Zone 4.5 contributions to the top 10 in this section are  Natalie Banda of Zambia who finished 4th   with 6 points, Junior Ednasia of Angola who finished  7th with 5 points  and  Naredi  Marape  of Botswana  who finished  10th with 5 points -which is a very impressive 50 percent representation

In the  Open section, which was infested with 5 grandmasters , Zone 4.5  chess players did reasonably well. The best position being that of Mozambician CM Donaldo Paiva that came fifth to pocket $916.67. There was IM David Silva on position 6 and IM Andrew Kayonde  of Zambia position 7, which is not a very bad 30 percent contribution to the 10 .

However, looking at the games themselves,  one can single out Namibia’s IM Dante Beukes win over FM Harold Wanyama of Uganda as one of the best games of the event. The game brought so much life to the tournament . I also gives us hope that chess in Zone 4.5 is alive and well.

 It was very surprising, without committing a serious sin   in the defense shield he was using against Dante’s e4- the no so much used  Rossolimo Sicilian, Harold had his f7 square bombarded by Dante’s Bishop Missile whose effects troubled Wanyamas kingside for generations. Some joked Wanyama was paying for the sins of Robert Gwaze, the Zimbabwean master that humiliated Beukes 10-0 in a blitz match last month – our facebook page reported (paraphrased)

Killer move!! Bxf7….The much talked about IM Dante Beuke’s missile against FM Harlod Wanyama.

The best Southern African showing in the women’s section was  Zimbabwe’s Linda Shaba, who finished 4th . She brought home some admirable wins over , WIM Caxita Esperance and  WIM  Khadja Letreche , and also drew with the notorious  WGM Wafa  Shahenda  and  WIM Aya Moaatize ,  The other good showing was that of Caxita Esperanca of Angola with 5.5 points, and   Kudzanai Charinda of Zimbabwe finished 10th  with 5.5 points.

Banele Mhango of RSA was the best showing of the junior boys category  on position 4 with 7 points to pocket  $100,  while Viagro Vasco Meteus was second best on position 9  with 6.5 points and South Africa’s Keith Khumalo was 3rd best with on position 10 .

The seniors section, which is a section of players of 50 years  and above,  Zone 4.5 was represented by  former  7 time South African champion, FM Charles de Villiers who clinched gold. �

The Following was the participation of the Zone 4.5 Countries

CountryNo of participants
South Africa23
Angola22
Botswana14
Mozambique12
Lesotho8
Malawi4
Zimbabwe4
Namibia1
Zambia1
Eswatini0

Given these achievements,   we can happily say chess is Zone 4.5 is alive and well,  and there is room for improvement.

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