The Strongest and biggest continental chess tournament in Africa finally finds its way to Nigeria! With twenty-one (21) countries, Four (4) Grandmasters, ten (10) International masters, ten (10) FIDE Masters, three (3) Candidate masters in the open section, and one (1) WGM, Four (4) WIMs, three (WFMs) and five (5) WCMs I guess it is safe to say that this is the strongest chess tournament to ever take place on Nigeria soil.
The Local Organizing Committees welcomed the participants and stakeholders with a fine show in the opening ceremony which was also graced by the World Chess Federation (FIDE) president Arkady Dvorkovich.
The Nigerian Chess Federation (NCF) seized the opportunity to honor President Arkady with an award for “his commitment towards the development of chess in Africa”. There is no better time to also present the long overdue gold medal to IM Odion, which he earned way back in 1998 at the Elista Chess Olympiad gold medal for his outstanding performance and contribution to his team’s overall performance at the tournament.
And after three days, the energy and momentum are beginning to match the statistics, and the games are getting more thrilling by the round….
GM Adly snatched victory from the jaws of defeat! The Egyptian Grandmaster had a slippery slope first round against Nigerian player Oluwadurotimi Lapite(2136) who handed the victory to his opponent after move 21, the stockfish engine evaluates the game to be -4 as at move 20, just before the sequential error, Lapite probably overestimated his attack and couldn’t wait to storm the black king, when he should have coordinated more pieces into the play before deploying… See the game for yourself.
In the first two rounds of the tournament, Toluwanimi Okemakinde defeated fellow countrymen and veteran masters. He defeated the Nigerian #2 seed IM (elect) Olanrewaju Ajibola in the first round, and a draw by repetition against FM Adegboyega in game two. However, there was unfinished business with GM Hesham Abdelrahman of Egypt from their last tournament earlier in August. In this game, Toluwanimi tried as much as he could to keep an open game—one would think he was aiming to play a draw match due to many exchange offers made by the white player, but the Egyptian GM was not going to give him a chance, the game ended 0-1 in favor of GM Hesham Abdelrahman. See for yourself.
Grandmaster Bassim Amin, the tournament favorite and #1 seed, was slowed down in the third round by IM Ortega Amarelle Mariano of the Republic of Cape Verde. The game lasted over four hours but neither player could convert. This puts Grandmaster Adly Ahmed as the sole leader of the tournament with a perfect 3 points after three rounds. Will he be able to keep the streak? The pivotal round 4 game against GM Bassem will tell.
In the women’s section, on the other hand, WFM Oloruntola Oluwatobiloba— after a long absence from chess—returned to have a feel of chess again but finds it hard to catch up. 1800-rated woman veteran Amadasun Rosemary leads the hive after round three with 2.5 points after an impressive draw match with WGM Wafa Shahenda.
Eureka! That was the expression of AFM Ikhimiukor Ehidiamen when he defeated Nigerian veteran IM Odion Aikojie in the third round. The Arena master played in a very fine fashion, displaying excellent pieces control and dominance for the entire game.
South Sudan’s #1 seed continues to put on a beautiful show and performance holding down IM Rakotomaharo to a draw in the third round, which keeps him among the few players with no loss so far with 2.5 points out of 3 games.
The fourth round promises beautiful games as the pairings imply, stay tuned, we will give you the full update