The merger between Lekki Chess Club and Orchid Chess Club is what you would describe as the next big chess event of the year after The John Fawole Chess Awards and the MGI Grand Finale. It is no doubt the biggest chess club collaboration in Nigeria’s chess history. The formal announcement of the merger took place at the Orchid Hotels & Events Centre Lekki, Lagos, Nigeria, on the7th of December 2019.
…written and compiled by Adesewa Oyewole
It was a gathering of great chess minds coming together not just to celebrate but also to deliberate on the growth of chess in Nigeria. The event was with no doubt a combination of class and fun all the way.
Apart from the presence of various chess media including the Bruvschess Media Team, the event which was strictly by invitation was graced with members of the merging chess clubs, members of chess governing organizations and other chess icons to experience the coming together of two great chess clubs. In attendance were: Ms. Ayokanmi Ajayi – President, Chess Players Association of Nigeria (CPAN), Amabipi Martins – Vice President (CPAN), Yinka Adewole – Past President (CPAN), FM Lolomari George – Past President (CPAN), Magnus Ekpiken – Past President (CPAN), leading chess veteran IM Bunmi Olape and Dasaolu Rotimi, former national champion and Nigeria’s top chess tournament organizer and patron of chess.
The event that marked the merger started at exactly 10 am with an opening speech from Rex Ogunnaike, the tournament director who gave a heartfelt speech that earned a standing ovation from the audience.
ABOUT THE MERGER
What was formerly known as Lekki Chess Club and Orchid Chess Club before the merger is now The Orchid Lekki Chess Club. The name stood alone boldly and proudly written on the new chess club plaque as the ribbon went off and was unveiled on Saturday the 7th of December 2019.
Lekki Chess Club started as a gathering of friends to play chess in 2013 in Lagos Nigeria. It quickly grew into a top chess spot in Lagos Nigeria. Before the Merger, the club had organized and participated in so many chess events, hosted great chess players both home and abroad including the popular English Grand Master Nigel Short – now FIDE Vice President – in June 2018. In 2016, the Lekki Chess Club team became the national champions and winner of the maiden edition of the CPAN national chess league. In the same year and in the maiden edition of the renowned John Fawole Chess Awards, they won the award for the best chess club in Nigeria. Indeed, Lekki Chess Club has so far been one of the heartbeats of chess in Nigeria.
Nathan ‘’Flow’’ Ekanem, GM Nigel Short and Rex Ogunaike
Orchid Chess Club was created by Engr. Johathan Odega, a chess enthusiast, successful entrepreneur and Chairman/CEO of Orchid Hotels. His love and passion for chess moved him to create a chess club where people of like minds gather to play. His chess club has also organized and supported various chess tournaments and events over the years. He is the chairman of the Orchid Lekki Chess Club.
Judging from the brief history of these great chess clubs, it is clear that the merger would create an even stronger chess club that would produce more development and achievement for chess in the country.
Mr. Kunle Kasumu, the Vice President of Orchid Lekki Chess Club who gave a brief speech about the merger, explained that the decision to merge both clubs was born out of common interest to develop chess in Nigeria. He further explained that the club would be a place were great tournaments would be hosted, were people, both old and young can come to have fun, network, play and develop their chess skills,
…“The unveiling of Orchid Lekki Chess Club has gone from being a dream to being a reality. With this merger, I see hope, growth and great achievements to come to Nigeria’s Chess Industry”… Mr. Kunle Kasumu.
In between, the Bruvschess media team had an exclusive interview with Nathan Ekanem and Kunle Kasumu that gave more insight on the vision, purpose and future exploits of the newly merged club.
Nathan Ekanem was the president of the Lekki Chess Club and still maintains his position as the president and a member of the board of directors of the Orchid Lekki Chess Club. He has also participated in so many chess tournaments and is still an active chess player.
You are known by many as a great chess enthusiast. From being the president of Lekki Chess Club and now the president and a member of the board of director of Orchid Lekki Chess Club. Where does this passion come from and how would you describe it?
Nathan Ekanem: In all my years of playing chess, I have enjoyed every single moment of it. It is a game of strategy, critical thinking, and logical reasoning. I can vouch for it as it has endowed me with clarity of thinking and unity in action to deliver on set goals in my career and life generally and I agree with Garry Kasparov when he said that ‘’life imitates chess” – sometimes you have to sacrifice your pieces in order to achieve a break-through. Chess is not just a game limited to a group of people, it is meant to be enjoyed by all, old or young, poor or rich. These beliefs continually drive me to support the growth and development of the noble game. This is also why I am happy the merger between Lekki Chess Club and Orchid Chess Club is now a reality
What do you hope to achieve from this merger?
Nathan Ekanem: The merger did not just happen. It was carefully thought of, planned and structured. From this merger, we hope to achieve Strength. As they say, there is strength in numbers. We believe that collaboration and cooperation are the keys to success and by coming together as Orchid Lekki Chess Club, we can achieve much greater things.
The merger also brings financial muscle. As we know, finance has a major part to play in chess development. The project we are about to embrace needs huge financial commitment, and I believe with our shared resources as Orchid Lekki Chess Club we can achieve this.
The merger would also deepen network effects and collaboration with individuals, schools, corporate organisations and other relevant stakeholders, we hope to attract more corporate sponsorships which would in turn allow us to contribute to chess development by supporting young and promising chess players to reach new heights in their chess and personal lives, we also plan to host regular rated tournaments (local and international) with a view to realizing more titled players. Our motto says it all – ‘’play, network and grow’’. Our vision is become a world-class chess club.
You spoke about structure earlier. Can you give an insight into this?
Nathan Ekanem: Yes. As Orchid Lekki Chess Club we have a robust structure made up of laws and processes to govern the affairs and running of the club. With this in place, we are working towards a more organized setting that would set the pace for greater things.
How would you rate the progress of chess in Nigeria?
Nathan Ekanem: I would say the Nigerian Chess Community is a work in progress. At least we were not where we were years ago. Apart from what Orchid Lekki Chess Club is embarking on, over the years, there has been an emergence of various chess organizations trying in their different ways to promote chess and its development in Nigeria. A very good example is Bruvschess Media. I would say without sentiment that what you guys are doing is unique and great. I attended the just completed John Fawole Chess Awards where chess players arbiters and other chess contributors where recognized. That is the first of its kind in Nigeria and something that should be encouraged. It was even more thrilling when the World Chess Federation (FIDE) acknowledged the event. With this, I would say I see hope for chess in Nigeria.
What is the next step for Orchid Lekki Chess Club?
Nathan Ekanem: Within the next few weeks, we will be announcing our membership registration process, membership fees and structure including the benefits of becoming a club member. We will also keep everyone updated on our plans for future tournaments and other related events – hopefully, by the first quarter of next year, we are looking to host a bigger tournament that would be rated. We look forward to welcoming our new members!
Kunle Kasumu is the Vice President of the Orchid Lekki Chess Club. He is a passionate chess player and has participated in so many chess tournaments.
You gave a very interesting speech about the merger between Lekki Chess Club and Orchid Chess Club. Can you tell me more about the vision?
Kunle Kasumu: The vision for the Orchid Lekki Chess Club is to be a great chess club that will produce Nigeria’s first chess Grand Master, to raise so much awareness of chess and to make sure that is it published in every nook and cranny of Nigeria. We are looking to grow more seasoned chess players, organize rated and globally recognized tournament and we are doing everything to make that possible. We are talking to the Nigerian Chess Federation (NCF), Chess Players Association of Nigeria (CPAN) and other governing bodies for collaboration. We are also working towards international collaborations for global awareness. With this, I believe there will be a positive breakthrough.
What does this merger hope to achieve?
Kunle Kasumu: With this merger, we hope to achieve a model chess club for development where people can grow and network. Hopefully, Orchid Lekki Chess Club will very soon host rated and globally recognized tournaments. It is a gradual process but I believe with resources pulled from both clubs we can be stronger to achieve this.
How would you rate the chess progress in Nigeria?
Kunle Kasumu: Sincerely I would say slowly. The attention that is given to chess in Nigeria is not as much as what is given to other sports. We have great chess players in Nigeria, some of them globally recognized, but lack support and sponsors. I think we can improve on the support base of chess were chess players would be nationally supported rather than individually. Hopefully, with Orchid Lekki Chess Club we can raise so much awareness of chess in the country.
What is the next step for Orchid Lekki Chess Club?
Kunle Kasumu: The next few weeks we would be sending out circulars on how interested individuals can be a full member of the Orchid Lekki Chess Club. We have also made arrangements for non-members, where people can come to play and the conditions as to that regard. We also plan to organize a big rated chess tournament a few weeks from now and we hope this would help raise the awareness that we need.
The unveiling of Orchid Lekki Chess Club was also celebrated with a chess tournament called the Orchid Lekki Chess Club Rapid Tournament.
The Orchid Lekki Chess Club Rapid Tournament was a total of six rounds with a time control of 20 minutes + 10 seconds per move increment with Rex Ogunnaike as the tournament director/ arbiter.
In total were 24 players including International Master Olape Olubunmi, FIDE Master Apemiye Austin, FIDE Master George Lolomari, and Woman International Master Ofowino Toritse.
Other players in attendance were Amabipi Martins, Abiri Taiwo, Adewole Adeyinka, Obi Chinedu, Gbadagri Tobore, Ekpiken Magnus, Orji Eche, Nwosu Chuka, Ekanem Nathan, Akagha Tochukwu, Dasaolu Rotimi, Oluwole Oladele, Adigun Oladipupo, Anigbo Afam, Ajayi Ayokanmi, Kasumu Olakunle, Adu Chuks, Omudu Paul, including two under 16 chess players, Akinbodewa Adebayo and Tennyson Olisa.
The tournament started with a very interesting Round 1, most especially between Tennyson “Ben 10’’ Olisa vs Bunmi ‘’Undertaker’’ Olape
English Opening: Smyslov Variation
Game annotated by Nathan “Flow”
In this game, Tennyson AKA ”Ben 10” the amiable and promising 16-year-old tries to hold his own against one of Nigeria’s most decorated players and multiple olympiad veterans. Ben 10’s confidence and bold moves earned him the admiration of his formidable opponent who only had nice things to say about him.
After the game, I spoke to the Undertaker and he described young Tenny as ‘’the future’’, he also heartily indicated his interest in coaching him to sharpen his play and tactical insights – we will see how that goes, for now, let’s turn our attention to the game. 1. c4 e5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Bg2 O-O 5. Nf3 d6 6. h3 Re8 7. O-O c6 8. d3 h6 9. e4 Nbd7 10. Ne2 Nf8 (d5 is more to the point 10…d5 11.a3 Bd6 12. exd5 cxd5 13. b4) 11. Nh4 d5 12. Qb3? Mistake, the best move was cxd5 Bc5 equally interesting is 13…dxe4 13. Qxb4 exd3 14. Rd1 e4 15. Nc3 g5! This leads to equality according to engine analysis 13. Nc3 (better is cxd5) dxe4 14. Nxe4 Bb6 15. c5?! (best move is Be3) Nxe4 16. cxb6 Nc5?! (better is Ng5) 17. Qc2? (Qa3 is more disturbing 17. Qa3 Nce618. bxa7 Nd4 19. Be3 Nc2) axb6 18. Rd1 Be6 19. Be3 Qc8 (Rxa2 is playable) 20. Kh2 Nfd7 21. b4 (d4 is good) Na6 22. Qb2 Nc7 23. a3 Nd5 24. Bd2 b5 25. Nf3 f6 26. Rac1 N7b6 27. Be1 Qd7 28. Nd2 Na4 29. Qa1 Ne7 30. Ne4 Nf5 31. Bc3 Rad8 32. Rd2 Qf7 33. Re1 Rd7 34. Qc1 Red8 35. Bf1 (better is Ba1) Nd4 36. Bxd4 Rxd4 37. Re3 Bf5 38. Rc2 Kh8 39. Be2 Qd7 40. g4 Be6 41. Qg1 Bb3 42. Rc1 Bd5 43. Ng3 Be6 44. Nh5 Nb6 45. Rg3 Nd5 46. Rf3 Bf7 47. Ng3 Nf4 48. Rc3 Ra8 49. Rxf4? (time pressure plus white could not cope with the practical difficulties of his position, not so surprising when your opponent is the undertaker!) exf4 * White resigns 0 – 1
Pairing and results for Round One
Round 2 ended with IM Olape Olubunmi beating Ekanem Nathan to a 1 – 0 point respectively. WIM Elect Ofowino Toritse played against the FM George Lolomari ending up in a 1-0 in favor of WIM Elect Ofowino Toritse. It was a tie of ½ – ½ between the under sixteen player Akinbodewa Adebayo and Omudu Paul, Amabipi Martins played against Anigbo Afam ending you in a 1-0 respectively, while FM Apemiye Austin won his match against Dasaolu Rotimi with a 1-0.
Pairing and results for Round Two
Round 3 took a rather quick turn for WIM Elect Ofowino Toritse who lost her 3 round to Adewole Adeyinka, Tennyson Olisa the under sixteen player won his third-round match against Gbadagri Tobore, while IM Olape Olubunmi triumphs, winning the third round against Obi Chinedu.
Pairing and results for Round Three
Round 4 was a clash between IM Olape Olubunmi and FM Apemiye Austin. FM Apemiye Austin showed great strength playing against IM Olape Olubunmi, but in the end, IM Olape Olubunmi emerged the winner. Tennyson Olisa maintained his victory and won his match against Kasumu Olakunle, while WIM Elect Ofowino Toritse regained her victory, winning her match against Ekpiken Magnus. FM George Lolomari played against Adu Chuks and emerged the winner, while Akinbodewa Adebayo lost to Dasaolu Rotimi.
Pairing and results for Round Four
Round 5 of the tournament also got so much attention from observers most especially the game between Nathan ‘’Flow’’ Ekanem vs. Oluwole ‘’Wolexy Shirov’’ Oladele
Queen’s Pawn Game: Stonewall Attack
Game annotated by Nathan “Flow”
d4 d5 2. e3 Nf6 3. Bd3 Nc6 4. f4 (The Stonewall Variation, an interesting point to note is that both players have discussed this line several times and have done a lot of post-mortem analysis together) Ne4!? We hadn’t played this line before and I thought it was interesting, to my mind, the best move was Nb4 (…4. Nb4 5. Nf3 Nxd3 5. Cxd3 Bf5 7. Ne5) 5. Nf3 g6 6. 0-0 Bg7 (better try is 6..Nd6) 7. Ne5 Nxe5 8. fxe5 0-0 9. Nd2 f5 10. exf6 Nxf6 11. Nf3 Qd6 12. c3 Bg4…Better is Ng4 13. Qb3 Bxf3 14. gxf3 Kh8 Better try is 14…a5 or e5 (-0.42) 15. Qxb7 Rfb8 (e5 was worth trying) 16. Qa6 Rb6 17. Qa4 Qe6 18. Qc2 Rf8 19. b4 Bh6 20. e4 (perfect would have been 20. Qe2 (1.75 -> 0.92)) Bg7?! (I figured Wole would do this as no one wants to give away their ‘Gufeld’’ Bishop! Bxc1 should have been considered) 21. Bf4?! (Bg5 is probably more practical but at this point in the game I wanted to release my pieces with an attack to gain time. Now, black has to lose a tempo in his attacking plan) Qd7 22. Be5 Nh5 23. f4 (Bxg7 also playable and probably much better) Bxe5 24. fxe5 Nf4 (Rbb8 was worth trying and would lead to equality) 25. exd5 Qxd5 26. Be4 Qe6 27. Kh1 Rf7 28. Rf3 Rb8?! …g5 should have been considered 29. Qb3! A key move, when I found it, I knew the mass was ended! Rbf8?? A catastrophe! Now white wins comfortably. The best move was Qxb3 even though this still gives white a +3 advantage! 30. Qxe6 Nxe6 31. Rxf7 RXf7 32. Bd5! Rf2?! (Nd8 would have continued the struggle 33. Bxe6 Rc2 34. c4 Rd2 35. d5 Re2 36. Rf1 Rxe5 37. Rf8+ Kg7 38. Rf7+ Kh6 39. Rxe7 c6 …can only prolong the misery with 39. Re1+ 40. dxc6 Kg5 41. c7 Kf4?! The checkmate is now unavoidable 42. c8Q kf3 43. Bd5+ (with mate in 5) 1 – 0
Pairing and results for Round Five
At the end of Round six which marked the end of the tournament, it was a draw between IM Olape Olubunmi and Akagha Tochukwu. WIM Elect Ofowino Toritse also played a draw against Ekanem Nathan, while FM Apemiye Austin lost to Oluwole Oladele. FM George Lolomari won his match against Omudu Paul, while Adigun Oladipupo won against Kasumu Olakunle.
Pairing and results for Round Six
At the end of the tournament, winners were announced and presented with their cash prizes.
1ST prize position goes to IM Olape Olubunmi who played a rather impressive game, winning Round 1 to 5 and ended Round 6 with a draw. He won with a total of 5 1/2 points.
2ND prize position goes to Ekanem Nathan winning with a total of 4 1/2 points.
3RD prize position goes to Akagha Tochukwu wining with a total of 4 1/2 points.
4TH prize position goes to Oluwole Oladele wining with a total of 4 1/2 points.
5TH prize position goes to WIM elect Ofowino Toritse wining with a total of 4 1/2 points.
6th prize position goes to Obi Chinedu wining with a total of 4 points.
7th prize position goes to Nwosu Chuka wining with a total of 4 points.
WIM Elect Ofowino Toritse won the BEST FEMALE category, earning her with a cash prize
Awards of encouragement were also given to the under sixteen category in persons of Akinbodewa Adebayo and Tennyson Olisa.