Reflections on African Individual Championship by Dr Lyndon Bouah

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The African Individual Championship started in Hammermet, Tunisia. The event is an important one because a number of qualifiers will go on to play in the World Cup later this year in Khanty-MansiyskRussia from 9 September to 4 October 2019, So, Tunisia I hear you say.

South Africa and Tunisia has a special history in politics and chess. Let’s look a bit at the history of Tunisia. Many of you will know that the Arab Spring started in Tunisia in 2011 when a street vendor set himself alight. And that revolution spread to other Arab states.

On 5 April 1995 President Nelson Mandela honoured the President of Tunisia, Mr Ben Ali at a state banquet. Mr. Mandela stated ” on a personal note, Mr. President, I am pleased to reciprocate tonight, after three decades, the hospitality offered to me by Tunisia in 1962. The warm spirit of solidarity and brotherhood with which I was received has remained with me ever since.”

Mr. Mandela was recalling the visit he made to Tunisia in 1962 when he appealed to the continent for Africa for assistance in the fight against Apartheid. On page 286 of his book Long Walk to Freedom, Madiba writes, Open quote ” in Tunis, our first stop, we met the Minister of Defence, who wore a striking resemblance to Chief Luthuli. But I’m afraid that is where the resemblance ended, for when I was explaining to him the situation in our country with PAC leaders such as a Robert Sobukwe in jail, he interrupted me and said, ” when that chap returns, he will finish you!” Robbie raised his eyebrows at this, but I insisted on giving the Minister the full picture. When the following day we met President Habib Bouguiba, his response was utterly positive and immediate: he offered training for our soldiers and £5000 for weapons.” …end quote. So, Tunisia certainly played a role in the struggle against the appear their forces.

Mr. Mandela continued at the State Banquet to reflect that the Organisation for African Unity welcomed democratic South Africa back into the fold at a continental Summit in Tunis, Tunisia on 13 June 1994. At the Summit Mr Mandela continued open quote ” we spoke about the symbolism of

Carthage- the city which was destroyed by the Romans and must be rebuilt by Africans. Here in South Africa, we have no such spectacular monuments to ancient history. But we have a nation that was torn apart by centuries of colonialism and racial domination. We are, at present, working tirelessly to rebuild that nation ourselves. Perhaps, in our own humble way, our nation can leave a monument to Africa and the world.” End quote.

Mr. Mandela made a brilliant speech at the June 1994 Summit. He referred to Carthage that was destroyed by the Roman Empire. ” And yet we can say this, all human civilization rests on foundations such as ruins of the African city of Carthage. These architectural remains ( of Carthage) , like the pyramids of Egypt, the sculptures of the ancient kingdoms of Ghana and Mali and Benin, like the temples of Ethiopia , the Zimbabwe ruins and the rock paintings of the Kgalagadi and Namibia deserts, all speak of Africa’s contribution to the formation of the condition of civilization. “

Today in Tunis there is a Nelson Mandela Train Station that can be used! So, Tunisia has been a great friend of South Africa!

On the chess front South Africa and Tunisia share a special bond in that they were the first African countries that participated in an Olympiad. The year was 1958, the city, Munich, the country Germany when Tunisia and South Africa made their respective debuts at the Chess Olympiad. At the 1958 Olympiad the countries were divided into four groups. South Africa was in group two. They ended second last in the group which was won by Spain on 23.5 and the USA on 23. In that group South Africa lost to Spain, USA, West Germany, Israel, and Norway. South Africa drew with Iceland and beat Finland and Iran.

Tunisia was in Group four and beat Greece 3.5 to 0.5, drawing with Sweden and Portugal and losing to Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Switzerland, Canada and Belgium. In the final group pairings South Africa beat Tunisia 3.5 to 0.5.

In 1974 Tunisia once again played a role when South Africa was suspended from FIDE. Morocco proposed a motion that South Africa and Rhodesia be excluded from FIDE because ” Rhodesia and South Africa continue to ignore the most elementary principles of human rights by exercising all forms of racial segregation and of slavery towards the autochthonous peoples of Rhodesia and South Africa, notwithstanding the condemnation by the United Nations, whereas the presence of representatives of these two nations in Nice can only be interpreted as an encouragement of their racial policy ” ( Text taken from the proposal as quoted in the South African Chessplayer, July 1974. )

The proposal was signed by the following countries: Tunisia, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, USSR, Hungary, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, DDR (East Germany), Mongolia, Romania, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Argentina and Cuba. So, Tunisia was the first to support the Moroccan proposal which ultimately led to 18 years of exclusion from FIDE.

In 1996 South Africa hosted the African Cup of Nations which is happening in Egypt. In that magical event, South Africa beat Tunisia in the final 2-0 when substitute Mark Williams scored twice to bring South Africans its first and only African Cup of Nations trophy.

So let’s look at the chess programme of the African Individual Chess championships :

So, its first the Classical that will take place, followed by the Rapid chess event that will be nine rounds followed by the Blitz, so its action packed! The tie break is also very interesting:

The average rating of the opponents is used as the first tiebreak.

The prize structure is as follows; I still have a real issue in that the Open and Women’s section does not have the same prize money although the costs of the hotel and flight costs are exactly the same! I still believe there should be parity in prize money!


The winner of the event will become as Grandmaster if they reach a minimum rating of 2300 and the winner of the women’s section will become a woman grandmaster if she achieves a rating of 2100

The qualification stakes are also very high. The top two in the Open section qualify for the 2019 FIDE World Cup to be played 9 September to 2 October while the top three in the women qualify for the 2020 Women World Cup Chess Championships cycle.

Tunisia also has the honour of being the first African country to produce a Grandmaster. His name is Slim Bouaziz. He obtained the title in 1993.

GM Slim Bouaziz

Africa only has a limited number of grandmasters some of whom are participating in this event. The African born grandmasters are:

  1. Slim Bouaziz (Tunisia)
  2. Bassem Amin (Egypt)
  3. Ahmed Adly (Egypt)
  4. Amien Rizouk (Algeria)
  5. Samy Shoker (Egypt)
  6. Hichem Hamdouchi (Morocco
  7. Mohammed Haddouche (Algeria)
  8. Kenny Solomon (South Africa)
  9. Amon Simutowe (Zambia)
  10. Essam El Gindy (Egypt)
  11. Slim Belkhodja (Tunisia)
  12. Abdelrahman Hesham (Egypt)

GM Kenny Solomon (South Africa)

The winners of the previous editions of the event are:

  1. 1998 (Cairo) Ibrahim Hasan Labib (Egypt)
  2. 1999 (Agadir) Mohammed Tissir (Morocco)
  3. 2001 (Cairo) Hichem Hamdouchi (Morocco) and Watu Kobese (South Africa) tied for first The women’s edition was won by Asma Houli from Algeria
  4. 2003 (Abuja) Essam El Gindy (Egypt) and Farida Arouche (Algeria)
  5. 2005 (Lusaka) Ahmed Adly (Egypt) and Sabure Tuduetso ( Botswana)
  6. 2007 (Windhoek) Robert Gwaze (Zimbabwe) Mona Khaled (Egypt)
  7. 2009 (Tripoli) Bassem Amin (Egypt) Melissa Greeff (South Africa)

Melissa Greeff (South Africa)2011 (Maputo)

8. Ahmed Adly (Egypt) and Mona Khaled (Egypt)

9. 2013 (Tunis) Bassem Amin (Egypt) and Shrook Wafa (Egypt)

10. 2014 (Windhoek) Kenny Solomon and Shrook Wafa (Egypt)

11. 2015 (Cairo) Bassem Amin (Egypt) and Mona Khaled

12. 2016 (Kampala) Abdelrahman Hesham (Egypt) and Shrook Wafa (Egypt)

13. 2017 (Oran) Bassem Amin and Shahenda Wafa (Egypt)

14. 2018 (Livingstone) Bassem Amin and Shahenda Wafa ( Egypt)

A very impressive by the Egyptian players. The statistics are overwhelming.

Grandmaster Bassem has five African Titles

GM Bassem Amin

Grandmaster Adly has two African titles while in the women’s section Woman Grandmaster Mona Khaled has three titles while the Wafa sisters share five between them with Shrook on three titles while her sister Shahenda has two.

The games are underway!

And what a star-studded field it is!! Africa’s newest grandmasters are also participating. They are Bilel Bellahcene from Algeria and Grandmaster Adhma Fawzy from Egypt. Both are fairly young players. Fawzy had a great Olympiad in Batumi in 2018. I saw his game against Gm Ivan Cheparinov where he had the experienced grandmaster against the ropes. His game against India was also a good one. Bilel I know less about but will find out more. This event is probably the strongest African Championship ever with no less than six former champions playing in the event!

Let’s look at the results of round one:

On board one GM Bassem beat Daniel Mulenga from Zambia.

On board two Gm Adly beat FM Akintoye Abdulraheem from Nigeria.

On board three and making a return to the African Championships is Grandmaster Hamdouchi from Morroco. It is his first ever African Championship after sharing first place with Kobese back in 2001!!! He has been living in France and has not been playing in African events since 2001. This to my knowledge is his first event at African Continental level since 2001. He beat IM Achraf Hbacha from Tunisia.

On board four GM Bellahcene beat FM Amdouni from Tunisia.

On board five IM Arab Adlane from Algeria who is probably GM strength beat FM Oussama Douissa from Tunisia.

On board six GM Fawzy drew with Angolan IM David Silva. Silva is a three-time African Junior champion and has three grandmaster norms. He has played in South Africa and is quite a capable

player.

On board seven IM Mahfoud Oussedik from Algeria drew with Yacine Barbaria from Tunia. Oussedik is a strong competitor and very fierce so I am sure he was disappointed.

On board eight GM El Gindy drew FM Oragwu from Nigeria.

On board nine IM Rakotomaharo from Madagascar who is also the zone 4.3 champion beat CM Bouzidi from Tunia.

On board ten CM Musatwe Simutowe held grandmaster Abdelrahman Hesham to a draw. This is a good result for Simutowe as the Egyptian grandmaster would’ve pushed for the win.

On board eleven IM Andrew Kayonde drew with Fm Meskin from Ethiopia. AK47 as he is known in these parts will be disappointed because he was expected to beat the player rated 220 points below him.

On board twelve IM Rodwell Makoto lost to Tunisian Omar Jmila who at 2119 also has a huge rating differential with Makoto.

On board thirteen IM Zaibi beat FM Degondo from the Ivory Coast.

On board fourteen GM Kenny Solomon beat Zimbabwean Takaedza Chipanga.

On board fifteen IM Boudriga from Tunisia beat Sasha Winston from Nigeria.

On board sixteen Douglas Munenga beat Kasim Islam from Somalia.

On board seventeen FM Elarabi beat Bajje from Ethiopia.

On board eighteen IM ADU beat CM Kamar

On board nineteen IM Stanley Chumfwa beat Benjamin Mande from Uganda.

On board twenty Daniel Anwuli from Nigeria beat CM Bongo from Gabon.

On board twenty-one FM Calvin Klaasen beat Beraki ki rom from Eritrea.

On board twenty-two Tary Bongo from Gabon lost to IM Baologun from Nigeria.

So, a few good draws for the lower rated players but a tough field!!!

In the Women’s section in round one the following transpired:

A smaller field but still with some solid names! The two sisters who share five titles between them are the top seeds!

On board one WGM Shahenda Wafa beat WFM Miladi from Tunisia.

On board two WGm Shrook Wafa beat WFM Amina Marzouk

On board three WIM Mezioud Algeria beat Ibrahim from Nigeria.

On board four the experienced WIM Sabrina La Treche beat WCM Ampaire from Uganda.

On board five WIM Mooataz from Egypt beat Linah Mululu.

On board six WCM Chihi from Tunisia lost to WIM Nassr from Algeria.

On board seven WCM Hilali lost to WIM Elansary

On board eight WFM Lorita Mwango from Zambia beat. WCM Hwass from Tunisia.

On board nine WIM Jesse February beat WCM Yavo from the Ivory Coast.

On board ten Milena lost Nigerian Ofowino

On board eleven WFM Ravelomanana beat Charlhess Ntolo.

At the time of writing round two was still in progress!

We will re-join the action in a day or two!

Regards

Dr Lyndon Bouah

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