REPORT OF THE ABUJA RAPID CHESS CHAMPIONSHIP TOURNAMENT 2022
Pureheart Irikefe reports from Abuja, Nigeria
The Abuja Rapid Champion Chess Tournament was intended to be a major tournament as well as a funfest for chess players residing in Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The event was hosted by the Zalika Chess Club, which is located at the Zalika Garden in Area 2, Abuja. The tournaments’ player profiles included Candidate Master (CM) Job Atabor, Joshua Adejoh, Michael Bridget (3rd Best Women Chess Player in Africa for the year 2022), Sasha Winston-Onyiah (who won a Grandmaster in the 2019 African Championships: Round 5), and upcoming chess kid Ivie Urieto, among others.
While several of these players were predicted to win the tournament, there were as many surprises as there were heartbreaks. With over 60 participants, the tournament was a huge success in the end.
DETAILS OF TOURNAMENT
• Name: Abuja Rapid Champion Chess Tournament 2022.
• Host: Zalika Chess Club.
• Date: 24th December, 2022.
• Venue: Zalika Garden, Area 2, Garki, Abuja, FCT.
• Time Controls: 15 minutes flat.
• Rounds: 7 rounds.
• Rating System: Unrated.
• Tournament Officials: Mr. Pureheart Irikefe (Tournament Director); Dr. Inyang Bassey (Tournament Supervisor); Mr. Samuel Ojikutu (Chief Arbiter); Mal. Babajide Tinubu(Deputy Chief Arbiter).
• Prizes (NGN): 1st (35,000); 2nd (25,000); 3rd (20,000); 4th(15,000); 5th (10,000); 6th to 10th (5,000 each); 1st Best Female (10,000); 2nd Best Female (5,000); Best U12(5,000).
• Tournament Link: https://chess-results.com/tnr711564.aspx?lan=1
SYNOPSIS OF EVENTS
Round One of the tournament began at 11:30 a.m. on December 24, 2022, with 30 playing boards. Mr. Samuel Ojikutu, the tournament’s Chief Arbiter, announced the tournament rules and declared the games open at the time.
Two of the favourites, Joshua Adejoh and CM Job Atabor were paired at Board Two, wherein Adejoh got a stunning win against CM Atabor using a classical d4 opening.
In Board 7 was Adegbie Similoluwa vs. Michael Bridget (3rd best women’s chess player in Africa for the year 2022) where Ms. Bridget crushed her opponent in just a few moves.
The first round of the tournament determined the course of the event, and the participants were delighted. It was all about having fun while playing chess for the participants. The majority of the games were characterised by tactical brilliance and decisive checkmates. It was a fantastic first round. The Round One result of the tournament can be found here.
After the halfway point of the tournament, in Round Five, several upsets and surprises began to fall. In Board 3, Nwizu Afamefuna (bronze medalist at the recently concluded National Sports Festival) was defeated by Yemi Owowa, who won with surprising but magnificent tactics. Michael Bridget lost to Ayedero Ayorinde Babs in a fierce battle on Board 4; Ms. Bridget blundered a piece and attempted to save the game, but couldn’t because the damage had already been done. In a difficult game, veteran chess master Effa Victor lost to upcoming Chess Kid Ivie Kristen Urieto on Board 28. Ms. Ivie decided to vent on the veteran chess master Victor with a magnificent positional play after a poor tournament performance. The Round Five result of the tournament can be found here.
The strong had separated from the others in the tournament’s final ranking after Round Seven. The winners were determined by the final ranking, and cash prizes were awarded to the winners accordingly. The final ranking after Round Seven of the tournament can be found here. Meanwhile, the Zalika Chess Club awarded medals to the following winners who received notable prizes:
• Joshua Adejoh with 6½ points won 1st place in the Abuja Rapid Chess Championship! He was given a gold medal.
• Uduakobong Akpoho and Mustapha Othman shared 2nd and 3rd place based on tied points since both players got 6 points. They were given silver and bronze medals respectively.
• Michael Bridget (3rd best women’s chess player in Africa for the year 2022) won the Best Female with 4 points. She was given a gold medal.
• Praise Okeke won the Best U-12 with 4 points. He was given a gold medal.
In the closing ceremony of the tournament, Mr. Anthony Ogor the Chairman of the Zalika Chess Club thanked the participants for coming and wished them well. He averred that bigger tournaments will be held by the Club in future and that this was a starting point.
Abuja now has a new Rapid Chess Champion for 2022 in Joshua Adejoh. In 2023, he would defend that title when the tournament is hosted again. In the words of GM Simon Williams, “The beauty of chess is it can be whatever you want it to be. It transcends language, age, race, religion, politics, gender, and socioeconomic background. Whatever your circumstances, anyone can enjoy a good fight to the death over the chess board.” The tournament was widely attended by men, women, and children from almost every state in Nigeria. It was not just about the games, but the gathering of like minds doing what they loved made the participants happy. Furthermore, the participants were pleased with the Zalika Chess Club’s well-organized event and demanded that another such event be held in the near future. Gens Una Sumus.