The Zimbabwe Chess Federation (ZCF)’s traditional Zimbabwe Easter Chess Open worth US$4 000 is on the roll at the Causeway Post Office, in Harare.
Aimed at aiding local and international chess players from southern national federations’ grassroots development efforts through high profile tournament play, coaching and exposure, the three-day tourney gives local chess stars an opportunity to put up strong performances and break the dominance of foreign players.
The Zimbabwe Easter Open tournament has been a regular feature on the Kasparov Chess Foundation Africa calendar for a number of years and attracts a lot of regional players with players from Zambia, Botswana, Malawi and Mozambique in attendance of the prestigious tournament.
This year, the event features three sections — open, ladies and men from the corporate world, as well as juniors aged 14 years and below.
“Zimbabwe Chess Federation vice president and convener of the Zimbabwe Easter Chess Open Clive Mphamblea said: “This year’s event is unique in two respects. It is the first time that we have four corporate sponsors generously supporting the Easter open.
“This augurs well for the future of the sport and shows the confidence that sponsors have in the future of Zimbabwe chess.
“Secondly, we have for the first time four separate sections, an open section, a ladies section an under-14 section and a seniors citizens section.
“Chess is a sport for all seasons and a sport to be enjoyed by all ages. It is a timeless tradition that we want to carry well into the future.”
The tournament is funded to the tune of $4 000 this year.
Last year, The Zambian duo, Fide Master Geoffrey Luanja and compatriot International Master Gillan Bwalya (Elo 2277), emerged joint winners of the 2018 Zimbabwe Easter International Chess Open. Luanja, currently based in South Africa, with an Elo rating of 2 276, was the initial tournament first seed and was largely expected to win the event.
The two players garnered 7,5 points each to share first place honours and split the US$1000 prize money to take home US$500 each.
The Zimbabwean field, which was led by current Zimbabwe Men’s Chess Champion-Zhemba Jemmuse (Elo 2 140), Emarald Mushore (2 277 and Spencer Masango collapsed midway in the tournament and none of them made it into the final line up of the Open section, which was dominated by the Zambian and Botswana chess players.
Another hot Zimbabwean favourite, former National Champion Candidate master Dion Moyo, only managed to scrap into joint 7th position with 6,5 points from 9 rounds, together with Elisha Chimbamu (ZIM) while the surprise packages from the Zimbabwe line-up where 19 year old scholar, Tapiwa Chikwavaire and UZ medical student, Blessing Musariranwa, who garnered 7 points each and managed to share the spoils in joint 3rd place with Zambian player Timothy Kabwe and Pudungwane Lesole from Botswana.
Following last year’s performance, Mphambela said the result of the Easter Open showed that a lot of work still needed to be done in order for Zimbabwean Chess to catch up with regional peers.
“Local players are raring to break the three-year jinx that has seen the tournament being dominated by foreigners.
“We have our work cut out for us as Zimbabwe Chess Federation. We cannot continue to come second or third place to Zambia and Botswana and we need to up our game,” said Mphambela.
“We have a vibrant school chess programme, which produces good chess players but these players tend to drop into oblivion after leaving school but we must up our game with senior teams,’ he added.
It was, however, a clean sweep for Zimbabwe in the ladies Championships, where Kudzanayi Charinda amassed a whopping 8 points from nine games to emerge the winner earning herself a US$250 cash prize followed by Master Rumbidzayi Mawire a Grade 7 pupil at Avondale Primary School and Murinda Anashe was Best Scholar.
Mphambela said the first four winners in the open (men) category would get $600, $400, $300 and $200 respectively.
Among tournament rules
The Playing schedule will be posted around the tournament venues. The organisers will adhere as much as possible to this playing Schedule. Any changes will be advised to the players so you must to be attentive to announcements by the organisers.
The FIDE chess rules and FIDE Tournament rules apply in this tournament. There will be enough equipment for all sections. There shall be zero tolerance for breach of rules.