The year 2021 had relatively fewer OTB chess activities because of the scourge of the Covid -19 Pandemic, which left many countries not holding national championships tournaments. The sting of the Covid-19 pandemic across the globe has been so sports crippling. For instance , the Zone failed to host the Zone 4.5 OTB Championship games following an ACC resolution that all Zonal events must be postponed until March next year due to lack of funds. However, in this 2021 Zone 4.5 Chess Round Up, we are only concerned with continental activities that the Joe Mahomelo led Zone 4.5 left a mark or are worth talking about .
The year saw the Zone host the 2021 Africa Individual Chess Championship in Lilongwe, Malawi. The caboodle of Africa chess powerhouses trekked to Lilongwe. It was refreshing to see our own FM Joseph Mwale from Malawi finish in the top 5 bracket in the tough open Section that featured 5 grandmasters. In the ladies section, WGM Jesse February from South Africa did the Zone proud by finishing first ahead of women Grandmasters from Egypt and Algeria. The event gave the impression that the Zone has talent that can compete well out there. The event also revealed the talent of the likes of FM Banele Mhango , FM Dante Beukes , WFM Naledi Marape, Priyasha Santosh etc who were playing good .Many commended Susan Namangale’s led Chess Association of Malawi for organizing a great event.
CHESS WORLD CUP
The Zone had also something to smile about at the 2021 Fide Chess World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysky, Russia. The Zone was represented by FM Sergio Miguel from Angola, FM Daniel Barish from RSA, IM Chitumbo Mwali of Zambia, IM Rodwell Makoto from Zimbabwe and CM Chiletso Chipanga from Malawi. While the other participants were mercilessly booted out of the tournament after being crushed 2-0 by their opponents , Zambian IM Chitumbo Mwali ‘’The Copper Eagle” sent shock waves across the globe when he retaliated against grandmaster Metrosian Haik of Armenia. After losing the first game in White pieces, he pulled himself up and retaliated with Black pieces to push the games to tie breaks. Though he collapsed in the tiebreaks, people commended the Zambian master for putting up a gallant fight.
ONLINE OLYMPIAD FOR PRISONERS
The Zimbabwe chess federation was the only African federation that participated in the Online Olympiad for the Prisoners from 13th to 15th October, 2021 .The Zimbabwe team which won silver, had very resounding results . They beat Georgia 4-0, Czechs Republic 4-0, whitewashed Russia 4-0, Macedonia 3.5 to .5, and Norway 4-0. Team Zimbabwe comprised of Alex Mashowane Heavuy Heavy (Harare Central), Desmonmd Marufu (Harare Central), Nhamo Matemamombe (Harare Central), Leo Matibe ( Chikurubhi Max), Nicholas Dhamota ( Chikurubhi M
A few chess books were published in Zone 4.5 in 2021. There was ‘’Chess in the Rainbow Nation’’ Volumes 1 and 2 authored by South African Dr Lyndon Boauah .There was also a book ‘’Learning the Alien Game” that was published by Makhosi Nyirenda and another book ‘’How to Play Chess’’ was published by James Dimba of Zambia. This shows the Zone is also developing in chess literature.
4 NATIONS ONLINE TOURNAMENT
To keep the region busy , the zone organized the 4 nations online tournament which involved South Africa , Botswana , Zimbabwe and Zambia. It’s participation basis was the 2020 Zone 4.5 Online tournament . Zone 4.5 colossals, Angola did not take part . It excused itself. At the end of the day, it was the South African team that carried the day and pocketed 1000 USD, Botswana were second. They pocketed 800 USD. Zimbabwe , who were 3rd , pocketed 600 USD and Zambia were 4th. They pocketed 400 USD. Joe Mahomelo, Charles Masaiti , Chanda Nsakanya of Zambia , and Simbarashe Murimi of Zimbabwe played a pivotal role in organizing the tournament.
AFRICA YOUTH CHESS CHAMPIONSHIP
There were quite a number of Zone 4.5 medals at the Africa Youth Chess Championship in Accra, Ghana. Driscoll Samuel from South Africa won the under 8 Open Section . Another South African Ramlall Sanjana got silver the Under 12 Girls , Natalie Banda from Botswana won the under 14 girls, followed by Badenhorst Chloe from South Africa , and Chisomo Bosomo of RSA was 3rd . Naredi Marape from Botswana won the under 16 Girls followed Shyrian Priyasha Santosh from Malawian on silver , South African Oosthuizen Michael Jacobus was 3rd in the under 16 Boys ,while Van Jaasvels Anje won , Deysel Kaleb from RSA won Bronze in the under 10 Girls
There were 2 scholarships won by some top junior chess players in the Zone. Dante Beukes of Namibia and Besa Masaiti won scholarships to study in prestigious USA universties where they will also continue their chess.
AFRICA SCHOOLS’ INDIVIDUAL CHESS CHAMPIONSHIP
As the year was ending, we saw some Zone 4.5 countries participate in the Africa Schools’ Individual Chess Championship in Kenya. South Africa was the best performing Zone 4.5 country with 10 medals.
According to the event’s report, Zone 4.5 powerhouse, South Africa, who fielded 40 players, were overall second with 10 medals. They clinched four golds, five silvers, and one bronze,
Other best performing Zone 4.5 countries included : Botswana, with 6 athletes on field , ranked 5th with three bronze medals , while Malawi ranked 6th with two medals(gold and Silver) from 12 athletes on field
A few weeks later, another Africa junior event took place in Monrovia, Liberia. Botswana’s Naledi Marape represented the Zone. She inspiringly achieved bronze in the Girls category.
We look forward to a great 2022!!