Exactly a year ago on the 16th of June the young Glen Norah Knights went to Masvingo and stole the show at the annual Gokomere festival. When they lifted their first shield in their maiden appearance in the Gokomere event- it was a big shocker as three young Knights were still in primary school; Alpha Chaendera (12) grade 7, Kudzai Mhandu (10) grade 5, and Collins Mabodongwa (9) grade 4.Only one student was in secondary school Zhemba Jemusse (14) doing form 2 then.The Knights in 2012 came clear 1st in a field of 29 secondary school boys teams.
Gokomere festival 2013 was held on the 15th of June and this time the Glen Norah Knights team was as follows; Board 1 Zhemba Jemusse (15) form 3, Vincent Mabodongwa (14) form 2, Kudzai Mhandu (11) grade 6, and Collins Mabodongwa (10) grade 5. Our reliable board 2 Alpha Chaendera is now doing form 1 at Prince Edward School and maintains the same board at his new school.
This time around 25 boys’ teams took part in this festival. Favourites to win the 2013 event were ;GNKCA, Prince Edward, Gokomere ,Victoria High and Serima.This time all the schools respected our young Knights because they all knew what they were capable of.
Let the battle begin! Round 1 GNKCA vs Berejena Boys. It was a warm up match for our young boys and a quick battle indeed. Zhemba buried Berejena’s board 1 Denver Parichi quickly. On board 2 Vincent Mabodongwa (brother to Collins Mabodongwa) nailed the coffin of Tinashe Matema in the opening. On 3 Kudzai Mhandu made sure he collected his first point to help our team retain the title by clobbering Wilbert Chiringa. Our youngest tactician Collins Mabodongwa sat innocently on board 4 tricking his much older opponent Alex Bere of Berejena Boys. So the first mission is completed successfully with a clean sheet and 4-0 was the result.
The 2nd round was a high voltage battle! A grudge match with equal chances of winning for both sides. Last year when GNKCA played with Prince Edward in the 4th round the PE guys lacked respect for our young boys and they faced the consequences-losing by 3.5 to 0.5.This time it was a brand new ball game both teams had the respect element for their opponents. Also the PE team of 2013 has changed completely but has maintained its strength: Board 1. L Tavagwisa, Board 2 Alpha Chaendera ,Board 3 T.Chapoloza, and Board 4 B.Fushayi. Alpha Chaendera played for GNCKA last year on Board 2 and now he is doing form 1 at Prince Edward School. So for the first time he’s our opponent in this crucial match.
Board 1 is our own Zhemba Jemusse vs Prince Edward’s L. Tavagwisa. L.Tavagwisa is a very good positional player who does not weaken his position easily. He has helped his PE school team to hold its own crucial battles both in league games and in tournaments. Zhemba Jemusse who last year won best board 1 prize with a 100% record is the right opponent for L.Tavagwisa who was not in Masvingo last year. This time Fide Master Gerald Matemavi did not come to play for PE on board 1 as he was tied up with A.Level exams. Zhemba playing the black pieces chose not to castle in the 1.e4 e5 opening, and Tavagwisa tried to have an imbalance in the middle game by offering an f4 gambit. The position was unclear in the middle game as no one had a clear advantage. Later on Zhemba centralized his Queen (some form of centralized piece island in the endgame) as well as his Knight. Tactics followed and Zhemba gained an exchange, a full Queen for a Rook. A hard fought battle for Zhemba and got his point.
Board 2: Our own Vincent Mabodongwa vs our former player Alpha Chaendera. It was a 1.d4 battle the speciality of Vincent. Our GNKCA player with white got an early firm centre and vast space advantage and his Queen was sitting in the 7th rank. In pursuit of improving his position by further suffocating Alpha’s army Vincent blundered his Queen. A great pain indeed for the team! So it was now 1-1 as board 1 and board 2’s games were over.
Board 3: Kudzai Mhandu (11) grade 6 at Marimba Primary faces PE’s form 6 student T.Chapoloza. Our young player with black pushed the game to an endgame position with a rook and 5 pawns aside. Both not seeing any clear winning chances decided to settle for a draw. Analyzing the position further we concluded that if Chapoloza had opted for a rook exchange with both kings in the centre Chapoloza might have got a full point. So it’s 1.5 -1.5 as the board 4 battle is still on.
Board 4 the decider! Our own young tactician par excellence Collins Mabodongwa is doing grade 5 at Kundai Primary in Glen Norah (former IM Robert Gwaze’s School).
This time the young kid with white is on fire and means business. The kid has gained a lot of fans in Masvingo and he did not let them down. He displayed a mature understanding of the game in all the game’s stages. The crucial middle game elements: centre and space, open lines and diagonals, pawn structure and weak squares as well as good piece positioning were all enshrined in his game against B.Fushayi of PE to come up with a brilliantly won game with an icing on the cake of a Rook sac! The Italian job is done and GNKCA won 2.5 -1.5.
Next in round 3 it was Gokomere the hosting team. What seemed an easy win for GNKCA turned otherwise as the host team put an incredible fight to beat our board 2 and 3. Our board 1 Zhemba Jemusse did what he knows best by tricking his opponent in the middle game. The score is 2-1 in favour of Gokomere with the Board 4 game still in progress. Again ‘the kid’ Collins Mabodongwa has to save us! He had to dig deep in his magic hat for the tactics that will eventually dismiss his A.Level student opponent Allington Ticharwa’s aggressive play. The game attracted a huge crowd as Collins saved us from the jaws of defeat.
Round 4 GNKCA played Victoria High. Victoria High played very good chess and they should be given a pat on the back for that! Again with our invincible board 1 and Board 4 their effort came to nothing. Victoria High’s Board 4 had his Rooks sitting in the 7th rank and his Bishop guarding the h7 square and Collins again played well to win the game. The result is 3-1 in favour of GNKCA.
The organizers stopped the tournament after 4 rounds. 1st position was shared by GNKCA and Gokomere all with 3.5 points. Prince Edward was on 3rd position with 3 points. Well done G.N.K.C.A and Gokomere!