Zimbabwe’s International chess master Robert Gwaze will hold Zimbabwe’s hopes when the country hosts the Zimbabwe Open Chess Championships from January 1-6.
The International Chess Master title is a rank below the Grand Master, a position for chess gurus who traditionally hail from Russia and Ukraine.
A former African player of the year, Gwaze, recently lifted the Botswana Open this month, adding to the Cuca Trophy in Angola, where he upset Russian Grand Master and pre-tournament favourite Korneev Oleg.
Zimbabwe will be represented by other local heavyweights including Spenser Masango, Farai Mandizha and Emily Zengeni.
The tournament will serve as good preparations for next year’s All Africa Games and has attracted over 200 chess masters from Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Angola, Namibia and South Africa.
Local participants will however face stiff competition from Zambian Amon Simutowe – the first Sub Saharan African to achieve the difficult ranking of International Grandmaster.
According to reports from Zambia, US-based Simutowe will lead Zambia’s medal hopes with Chitumbo Mwali, Richard Mwansa, Thomas Zulu and Kelvin Chumfwa who had all expressed willingness to take part in the local tournament.
South Africa’s celebrated mental artist Watu Kobesi is also expected to take part in the tournament which will played over 11 rounds where players will be seeded according to their international rankings. The player with the most points after 11 rounds wins the title.