Last year, the president of The Orchid Lekki Chess Club, Nathan Ekanem told Bruvschess Media Correspondent while listing the chess club achievement during an interview at its first anniversary, about being awarded a two-year hosting right for the National chess championship by the Nigeria Chess Federation.
“…we have been awarded 2-year hosting rights for the National Chess Championship by the Nigeria Chess Federation (NCF)….”
On the 2nd, April 2021 about three months after this statement, Orchid Lekki Chess Club (OLCC) in Conjunction with The Nigeria Chess Federation unveiled the official logo for the National Chess Championship 2021 along with other official announcements.
The unveiling event was held virtually on Zoom at exactly 3 pm.
The event started with an opening speech from the event host, Kunle Kasumu (OLCC Vice President), after which he introduced special guests in attendance.
Special guests in attendance were: Mr. Lekan Adeyemi (President of the Nigeria Chess Federation), Engr. Jonathan Odega (Chairman, OLCC and Orchid Hotels), Nathan Ekanem (President of the OLCC), FIDE Master John Oyeyemi Fawole, Deborah Akintoye (Female National Chess Champion of Nigeria), Martins Amabipi (CPAN President), International Master Femi Balogun, Magnus Ekpiken (Ex- CPAN President), Adeyinka Adewole (Ex-CPAN President), and Dasaolu Rotimi.
The event continued with the president of The Orchid Lekki Chess Club Nathan Ekanem stating the Agenda of the event and running through a presentation that elaborated on the goals, mission, and vision of the collaboration between the Orchid Lekki Chess Club and the Nigeria Chess Federation.
According to him:
“The purpose of the event is to unveil the Official LOGO for the National Chess Championship (NCC), how we got to where we are, what the end game is for us, what our vision is for the NCC, and most importantly the support and collaboration we want with all stakeholders in Nigerian chess”.
Nathan Ekanem explained how the OLCC was awarded the 2years hosting right and how this has been a major step towards achieving the vision of the club and in general chess in Nigeria.
“The vision for our club is to be Africa’s leading chess club and one of the world’s best in development, promotion, organization, and mastery of chess. The privilege granted to us by the NCF to host the upcoming National Chess Championship is leading us in the right direction towards our goals not just for our chess club, most especially for the promotion of chess in Nigeria.
Our vision for the National Chess Championship is to host a world-class event that increases the awareness of the values of chess in Nigeria, and one that all Nigerian chess stakeholders would be proud of.”
After the statement by Nathan Ekanem (President of OLCC), Mr. Lekan Adeyemi (President of the Nigeria Chess Federation) addressed all attendees of the event. He started by wishing every attendee a happy Easter celebration, after which he explained what the National Chess championship is about, why the Partnership idea with OLCC, the date, and the format of the National Chess championship.
“The National Chess Championship is meant to help us choose the best male and female chess player in Nigeria. The collaboration between the Nigeria Chess Federation and Orchid Lekki Chess Club started after we received a request from the chess club for a hosting right of which they were granted for two years.
The National Chess Championship will be held on the 8th – 14th November 2021 in Lagos, Nigeria.
The National Chess Championship is going to be a Round Robin system format. It is going to be by invitation, just as last year. A total of 10 Males and 10 Females will be invited for the championship. The criteria for the selection will be by rating, going by the standard of FIDE rating.
We are going to be using the September 1st, 2021 FIDE rating list to select those that will be invited for the championship. This is the safest and closest to the 8th of November. If there are going to be any changes at all in October’s list it should be minimal and not one that will affect the selection.”
Mr. Lekan Adeyemi (President of the Nigeria Chess Federation) further explained the reason for the invitational format that will be adopted again in this year’s National Chess Championship.
According to him:
“I have had discussions with people about adopting other formats. For example, I discussed with international Arbiter- Obinna Ogbonnaya where he stated that we should adopt the Candidate format. In as much as I agree with him, I would say, we should start from simple to complex. With time we would work towards wider participation and enough resources to take care of all players. For now, our resources are limited and cannot accommodate larger participation.”
He further stated that to take care of other players that will not be invited and to allow them to play in an equally competitive game, there will be an Open championship to be played alongside the National Chess Championship.
After the statement by Mr. Lekan Adeyemi (President of the Nigeria Chess Federation), the floor was opened for attendees of the event to ask questions.
The first question of the event was asked by Mr. Wale Fadeimi
According to Mr. Wale Fadeimi, one of the problems chess players in Nigeria face is the issue of ratings. This is because not everybody has an equal opportunity to attended rated tournaments. He suggested that in other to raise chess players’ ratings, the Nigeria Chess Federation should consider a rated zonal competition which will be an open tournament. This way, chess players will have the chance to increase their rating and will have a chance to participate in the National Chess Championship.
This question was responded to by Mr. Lekan Adeyemi (President of the Nigeria Chess Federation).
Mr. Lekan Adeyemi stated that the format of this edition of the upcoming National Chess Championship was experimental. According to him:
“We are not throwing all these ideas away, but in all that we are doing, we need to consider logistics and funding.”
The second question was asked by Chidebele
“Is there any plan of using electronic boards for viewing live games for the National Chess Championship?”
This question was responded to by Nathan Ekanem (President of OLCC). According to Nathan Ekanem:
“Yes, there is. We plan on using electronic boards for the tournament. Not just for two players, possible for all players. We are presently working with people to see that this is a reality.
The third and last question was asked by IM Femi Balogun.
“How can players boost their ratings before September. Will there be any tournament in place to help players boost their ratings?”
This question was responded to by Martins Amabipi (CPAN President)
“CPAN is planning to organize an original tournament that will be rated around June – August. It is going to be a 9 round Classical, Rapid, and Blitz. The proposed location is Lagos, Abuja, and Port Harcourt.
After the question section, Engr. Jonathan Odega (Chairman, OLCC and Orchid Hotels), was invited to give a speech for the unveiling of the Official LOGO for the National Chess Championship.
According to him:
“Chess is a game that has been so much undermined in this country even though chess can improve our mental capacity and get people thinking outside the box. One of the reasons chess has not been valued in this country is the prize awarded to winners in chess tournaments. The prize awarded is not as much as other sectors as we have seen in our country.
With the collaboration of the Orchid Lekki Chess Club and the Nigeria Chess Federation, we are going to change the star prize and give chess the kind of publicity and respect that people will want to associate with. I commend the president of the Nigeria Chess Federation for this collaboration. I think the Nigeria Chess Federation collaborating with a private sector like the Orchid Lekki Chess Club is the best for the chess community.”
With this speechby Engr. Jonathan Odega (Chairman, OLCC and Orchid Hotels) the Official LOGO for the National Chess Championship was Unveiled.
Nathan Ekanem (President of OLCC) also stated:
“The LOGO is a representation of what we stand for. The purpose of the National Chess Championship is to crown the King and Queen as it is represented by the king and queen chess pieces in the LOGO. This also represents gender equality as we advocate in chess.”
Kunle Kasumu (OLCC Vice President), also added:
“We are proud and happy to unveil the logo and share it with the chess community. Our vision is also to take chess around Nigeria as you can see in the Logo “LAGOS 2021”. Next year might be Abuja 2022 and so on”
Kunle Kasumu also invited Deborah Akintoye (Female National Chess Champion of Nigeria) to give a speech at the event.
“I believe that this championship is going to make it easier for female chess players to participate in the championship. The coming of the private and public sectors would raise more awareness for chess in Nigeria. I look forward to participating in the chess tournament this year.”
Kunle Kasumu (OLCC Vice President), brought the event to a close by stating that the Orchid Lekki Chess Club in collaboration with the Nigeria Chess Federation would like to work very hard with the chess community to take chess to the next level with collaboration from sponsors and effective communication.
He also urges the chess community to work together as a team to make National Chess Championship big in Nigeria.
According to him:
“The bigger we make this, the bigger we make Nigeria chess.”