Anniversaries give us a chance to look back over the years, and a time to look towards the future. The Orchid-Lekki Chess Club (OLCC) marked its first anniversary on the 19th of December 2020. OLCC came to be after a successful merger between Lekki Chess Club and Orchid Chess Club. The new club has since recorded meaningful milestones and made remarkable progress.
The anniversary which took place at the Orchid Hotels & Events Centre Lekki, Lagos, Nigeria, was a gathering of great chess minds. It was graced by members of OLCC, guests, junior players, parents and the media, including Channels Television, Bruvschess Media and African Chess Media.
In attendance were: Engr. Jonathan Odega (Chairman, OLCC and Orchid Hotels), Fide Master Dave Erhabor (veteran), Dasaolu Rotimi (former national champion and Nigeria’s top chess tournament organizer and patron of chess), Sir Robert Asibor (veteran), Nnamdi Nwoye (veteran), Babalola Bayo (veteran), Fide Master Lolomari George (ex CPAN President), Magnus Ekpiken (ex CPAN President), Martins Amabipi (CPAN Vice President), Babatunde Ogunsiku (CEO, Africa Chess Media), Coach Boyo Paul (Fide Arbiter) and Kunle Kasumu (OLCC Vice President).
The event started with an opening speech from Rex Ogunnaike, the tournament director and club secretary.
The main highlight of the anniversary event was a three in one chess tournament which turned out to be the perfect way for OLCC to start a new year.
The Orchid-Lekki Chess Club Anniversary Tournament (2020) had three categories:
- The OLCC Junior Members Category
- The OLCC Adult Members Category
- Veterans’ Invitational Category
A total of 57 participants took part in the tournament.
For the Adult Members Category, a Rapid Swiss System tournament with a total of six (6) rounds, was adopted. The time control was 20 minutes + 10 seconds increment per move, starting from move one. A Swiss System was also used for the junior players, while a double round robin system was adopted for the invited veterans.
The tournament was FIDE rated with a total cash prize of N300,000 available to be won.
Players in attendance for the OLCC Adult Members Category were: IM Femi Balogun (2200), Rotimi Lapite (2124), Nathan Ekanem (2038), Chinedu Obi (2033), Rapheal Titoluwanimi (1931), Magnus Ekpiken (1868), Martins Amabipi (1803), Samson Ofubu (1752), FM Lolomari George, Ndopnse Ekpo, Afam Anigbo, Tunji Fashanu, Raphael Deage, Opeyemi Taiwo, Segun Fasehun and Nwaeze Nnaemeka Vincent.
Game annotated by Nathan “Flow” Ekanem
[White: Tunji “Tactical” Fashanu]
[Black: Nathan “Flow” Ekanem]
[Result “1/2 – 1/2”]
The first round wasn’t exactly what I had hoped for – it was very much a psychological battle. I was hoping to start easy and play a calmer, perhaps more positional player but my opponent happened to be just the direct opposite. There are players whose playing tastes are noted for their exceptional tactical constancy, Tunji Fashanu aka ‘’Ebora’’ ‘’Tactical’’ ‘’Teejay La’’ is one of such players, he is widely regarded as a highly tactical player within the club circles, he is not the type you want to meet in round 1.
[White Rotimi “Petrosian” Lapite]
[Black IM Femi “Peggy Stuffings” Balogun]
[Result “0 – 1”]
Game annotated by Rotimi Lapite with invaluable help from Femi “Botvinnik” Oyenowo and Kelechi “Kasparov” Ndukwe
The fifth-round clash against IM Femi Balogun was essentially going to determine the tournament winner. I had 3.5 points having salvaged a draw from the jaws of defeat in my third-round game against Chinedu “the king in the east” Obi. With IM Balogun, the top seed, devouring all the players he had been served on board 1, I knew I had a tough game coming.
I had the white pieces and needing a win, I decided to play something sharp and challenge him with his customary KID.
With this win in the penultimate round and a draw in the final round, IM Femi Balogun won the OLCC Anniversary Rapids Tournament
Winners/ Cash Prize
At the end of the tournament, Bruvschess Media correspondent (Adesewa Oyewole), had a chat with some of the players about the tournament, the success of the event and their chess careers in general.
A notable interview she had was with IM Femi Balogun who won the OLCC Adult Members Category tourney. IM Femi Balogun is a notable Nigerian chess player and no stranger to winning.
In 2016 he got his FIDE Master title at the Africa Zone 4.4 Individual Championship in Accra Ghana. The following year, he won the same event in Monrovia, Liberia and qualified to play in the FIDE World Cup 2017, the event held in the same year in Tbilisi, Georgia. He played against World Champion Magnus Carlsen but was defeated in the first round. IM Femi Balogun has won so many chess tournaments in Nigeria and was nominated for the MAN CHESS PLAYER OF THE YEAR in The John Fawole Chess Awards.
How do you feel about winning the Adult category in today’s tournament, and who was your toughest opponent?
IM Femi Balogun: I feel great. My game with Lapite Oluwadurotimi was particularly interesting. I played the King’s Indian Defense. It was a tough game but I am happy I won.
How would you say today’s event turned out to be?
IM Femi Balogun: Today’s event turned out to be great. I would say the Orchid Lekki-Chess Club is doing a great thing here to improve and raise the awareness of chess. I enjoyed the game and the anniversary celebration.
You have won against so many chess players in Nigeria and Africa in general. For how long have you been playing chess and how does it feel playing internationally?
IM Femi Balogun: I have been playing chess since 2007 and since then it has been a great experience. I have so far enjoyed the journey. Playing internationally is great. I would say that it has been more about the exposure for me. The experience has opened me up to new skills and strategies. Generally, it has been amazing.
Speaking about development, what can you say about the development of chess in Nigeria?
IM Femi Balogun: I would say that development starts individually and at private organization level rather than relying on the chess governing bodies for everything. Although the governing bodies also have a major part to play in the development of chess in Nigeria, we should not depend on them for everything. Perhaps, this is why 2020 has been a great year for the chess community in Nigeria despite the Covid 19 pandemic. We have organized tournaments and have had sponsors. It has been encouraging.
We are gradually approaching the end of 2020, what are your plans for 2021?
IM Femi Balogun: With the worldwide pandemic covid-19, 2020 has been tough on all of us. Next year, I would love to participate in more tournaments both locally and internationally. I will also love to represent Nigeria internationally.
Interview with Ndopnse Ekpo
Bruvschess Media correspondentalso had a chat with the club manager, Ndopnse Ekpo. Ndopnse Ekpo, fondly referred to as Nse, is a chess lover and tutor. He is an enthusiast of chess in schools and has demonstrated it by grooming many young chess-playing kids in the country. He is also a member of Chess in Slums. As a player, Nse is known for his wit, trickery and ability to close winning positions.
Who is Nse?
Ndopnse Ekpo: My name is Ndopnse Ekpo but I am fondly called Nse. I am the club manager at OLCC and I head the Junior / children’s department of the chess club.
How would you describe the event?
Ndopnse Ekpo: It turned out great. It was everything I imagined and beyond. The junior tournament was really fun. We had about 20-23 children who participated. They were all excited.
How has development been for the chess club after the merger?
Ndopnse Ekpo: I would say that the merger has been great. We have not just been a regular club. We are breaking boundaries and every chess personality in the country has been aware of our existence mainly because of the development we have been bringing to the game. I feel very happy and proud to be a member of Orchid-Lekki Chess Club.
Your chess club won the CHESS CLUB OF THE YEAR award for The John Fawole Chess Awards. That must be exciting for you?
Ndopnse Ekpo: Of course it was. We were all excited about it because we gave our best this year. I feel we deserve the award 100 per cent.
You participated in the tournament. How did it go for you?
Ndopnse Ekpo: It went well. I played 6 games altogether and I lost one against IM Femi Balogun. All in all, I had fun playing and I think it is safe to say the same for everybody that attended the tournament. You could feel it in the atmosphere.
How has chess been going for you since you started playing?
Ndopnse Ekpo: I would say it has been great ever since. I was a member of the YabaTech chess team between 2005 and 2006, I was the president of the University of Nigeria (UNN) chess team (2008-2012) and I have also participated in several tournaments including but not limited to the NUGA events of 2008 and 2011. I am the club manager of OLCC, I am a chess coach, I teach chess in schools and I am a member of Chess in Slums. I am very passionate about chess and all these are geared towards the development of chess in people and in Nigeria in general.
Bruvschess Media correspondentwent further to interview other chess players at the event.
According to Olusegun Fasehun, a member of OLCC: “I think Orchid-Lekki Chess Club is doing a great thing by increasing awareness for chess. The tournament was nice. I play chess for fun and because it is an intellectual game.
However, come 2021, I am looking forward to attending more tournaments, improving my rating, and becoming a strong chess player in the chess community”.
Rotimi Dasaolu who won the Veterans’ Invitational category, expressed his view about OLCC being a premium chess club. According to him:
“I was invited and I played in the veterans’ category. I played 12 games in all, I won 10, drew 1 and lost 1. I enjoyed the event and I enjoyed playing with all the other participants. I think OLCC is the only premium chess club in Nigeria I am aware of.”
Dasaolu who was nominated and won the ORGANIZER OF THE YEAR Award for The John Fawole Chess Awards further stated that he has been playing chess for over 30 years and that chess in Nigeria has grown, however, not as much as he would have expected.
According to him: “I have been playing Nigerian chess for over 30 years, and I will tell you that chess has grown since then, however, not as much as we would have wanted it to. For the fact that we cannot boast of one chess grandmaster in Nigeria is an anomaly and a poor reflection of the state of chess in Nigeria”.
When asked what he thinks can be done about it, he stated: “First, I think we need the right and committed people, people with vision, people that can move chess in Nigeria in the right direction”.
Finally, Bruvschess Media correspondent had a chat with the president of OLCC, Nathan Ekanem. Nathan, who is an engineer by profession, is also an experienced tournament player known for his relentless attacking style of play. He spoke about the achievements OLCC has made over the past one year.
You must be very proud of what your club has been able to achieve within a short time.
Nathan Ekanem: Yes, I am really proud. A lot of it comes down to the efforts of our board, management team and members. We have been voted as the Best Chess Club in Nigeria by The John Fawole Chess Awards (TJFCA); we have been awarded a 2-year hosting rights for the National Chess Championships by the Nigeria Chess Federation (NCF); we have registered over 70 new members (juniors and adults), and we have started weekly online & physical coaching classes for OLCC junior members.
We have also engaged two reputable foreign grandmaster coaches who will start GM coaching classes in Q1 of 2021. We have engaged four reputable Nigerian coaches including two International Masters (one of them being the National Chess Champion) and one Fide Master. We now have two in-house National Arbiters.
I am very proud of our efforts beyond the walls of our club because one of our visions is to positively impact on the chess community in Nigeria. We want to contribute to developing chess in the country. In the light of this, we hosted tournaments and events beyond the club, provided technical & advisory support to the Nigerian Chess Federation (NCF), acquired a dealership agreement with DGT, the world’s leading chess equipment manufacturer and have actively engaged in chess promotional activities through several special appearances on Channels TV.
Our newly launched website is also set to help us actualize a lot of our desires regarding developing the club and promoting chess in the country.