By Tribbie Nashe Motsi – 29th November 2011, Harare Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe Chess Federation (ZCF) organised this year’s final edition of the Chess Grand prix series. The first one was in Mutare followed by Gweru, Masvingo and Bulawayo. The overall winner of these events combined is Zimbabwe’s top player International Master (IM) Robert Gwaze. Harare’s edition was held at Causeway Building – Mezzanine floor in capital city of Zimbabwe on the 26th to 27th November 2011.This is in line with ZCF motto and theme ”taking/bringing chess to the people". It was a Swiss seven rounds rapid tournament with time controls varying from 15 minutes, 20 minutes and 30minutes per player.
As usual Mr. Elton Mhangarayi was the Tournament Director. The arbiters-cum-players were ZCF officials; Reuben Muza and Clive Mpambela. Mr. Munyaradzi Aringundiya and Mr. Paul Soti also assisted the officials to run this tournament. International Arbiter (IA) Simbarashe Murimi also came to watch the games and play social blitz games. Murimi is still in the process of reconciling with ZCF and from our brief conversation it seems he might come back early next year.
There was a high turnout of chess players from across the country. Dr. Rickie Malaba represented Bulawayo; Prince Dapetha from Mutare, Thabov Elisha who is now based in Gweru and currently the Midlands Champion, Janice Lerato from Kadoma, Chegutu wonder girl Colletta Wakuruwarewa, Emerald Mushore and the Police Officer Albert Maketo travelled from Bindura, lastly another Police officer Merit Dimus from Masvingo graced this event. Sylvester Madzongwe who lives in Luanda Angola came and followed few games before disappearing!
The tournament attracted 140 players. Among these were the Glen Norah gunners: Heath Darare, Bismark Bhobhojani, Byron Gurajena, Brighton Joshua and Spencer Masango (Spoon-man).Other top players: Farirai Gumbe, Anyway Zhuwawo, Lewis Kahoba, Gift Sithole, John Jokomo (aka Kirsty Coventry), Anesu Masimba (Anand), Farai Masanganise (Mukoma), Hamilton Mandeya (Buddha), Edmund Mpofu (Bhudhi), Lloyd Moyo, Mufaro Joseph Kudakwashe Mangono, Victor and Elisha Chimbamu and yours truly.
Ladies who battled it out with men include: veteran players Bridget Murandu-Pumuyo and Rhoda Masiyazi, Linah Nyakunya, Zengeni sisters Tatenda Melissa (Tasty Polgar) & Paidaishe, University Of Zimbabwe (UZ) Ladies Chess team captain Termaine Chizikani, (UZ) Law student, Sandra Mukuwe, Janice Mothabi, Midlands State University (MSU) student, Kudzanai Charinda, Paidaishe Zengeni, Fungiraiini Chiweshe to mention but a few.
The first & second rounds proved to be easy wins or top players. Perhaps the biggest upsets were Emerald Mushore’s loss to Darlington Makwata and Lloyd Moyo’s loss to Christopher Chadzinga. Thabov Elisha lost to James Vhezha; this was probably revenge as Vhezha was stopped from winning a prize at Easter Open by Thabov sometime early this year! An interesting position arose in my game against Buddha. In a complex position, I sacrificed a rook for knight to open it up and soon created three passed pawns. Unfortunately, I did not have enough time to convert this into a win hence lost.
The chess fireworks began in round four where Dr. Rickie Malaba won a fierce battle against Farai Masanganise. Malaba had black pieces and played the Najdorf Variation in the Sicilian defense. Masanganise castled longside but Malaba stayed in the centre after a series of exchanges the position was simplified to opposite coloured Bishops and Malaba demonstrated great pawn endgame skills and delivered checkmate within 30 seconds. Malaba announced his comeback to chess last month at Bulawayo Grandprix after almost a decade long break of Medical studies. Thabov could not hide his open admiration of Doctor Malaba’s enterprising chess, getting excellent and interesting positions in all of his games.
In this round also, Buddha gave in to Spencer’s pressure and left a free piece! Perhaps it’s the spirit of the festive season or is it fever where people express love through gifts and presents. Spencer skillfully used it to bring home yet another full point. Prince Dapetha drew with Lewis Kahoba, Gift Sithole lost to Dee Chivinda .This round also saw the great Bismark falling to a little known Charles Pwere. James Vhezha also sank Kirsty. The young & upcoming player Dee Chivinda popularly known as Deepov Dandrosky had a good start as he crossed the “tournament equator” with a perfect score of 4points.There is also no doubt that James Vhezha is the most improved player as evidence by his stratospheric performance. Vhezha, a former Air force paratrooper had a perfect score on the first day.
The fifth round marked the beginning of the second half of the tournament on the second day. Fierce battles erupted as Anand Masimba was paired against Lewis Kahoba. Kahoba played Budapest gambit with black pieces. Anand seized an early initiative in the opening but adopted a wrong strategy and gave the opponent an opportunity to equalise. They fought but Anand succumbed to the deadly sucker-punch of Kahoba in time trouble. Another encounter that captured my attention was Mufaro Mangono against Dr Rickie Malaba. In a Closed Ruy Lopez both opponents placed their pieces in the centre and after massive exchanges the rook, bishop and knight endgame with equal pawns, Malaba missed a winning combination but kept mounting on pressure and suddenly offered a draw when he had a queening pawn with almost a minute remaining on the clock. He lacked the energy to fight on and saw it impossible to deliver a checkmate. Robert Gwaze followed this game closely and later on analysed some options that Dr. Malaba missed. Still in this fifth round Deepov failed to answer all of Spencer Masango’s questions on the board and lost. Also Vhezha could not stand IM Gwaze’s pressure that stopped his winning spree.
IM Robert Gwaze had smooth wins against most of his opponents from the first to the fifth round. His sixth round encounter with Spencer Masango marked the beginning of tough matches. The All Africa Olympics Chess Gold Medalist, IM Gwaze was under pressure. "Robby-G" as Robert is called, defended confidently and the game was drawn. Another war erupted between, Heath and Mufaro only to end in a draw game. James Vhezha and Licious Sixpence both from Chitungwiza, also fought & it seemed Vhezha wanted blood from the on the onset and eventually brought home the beacon. Kudzanai Charinda a lower sixth student at St John’s Emerald Hill played a sharp game against the Harare Polytechnic Chess coach Brian Dzvetera. He underestimated the young girl’s attack in which she sacrificed two pieces to create an inevitable checkmate.
There is often an end-of-term feel at the conclusion of chess tournaments. Players have made friends and agree quick draws. There was an air of this here. Perhaps that is because of the size and depth of the prize list, or perhaps because the tournament is not rated and everyone wants to get a piece of the cake at the expense of final rankings. Chess players have not been spared from rampant corruption going on across the country. Cheating especially match-fixing for money was the order of the day. Ladies accused each other of game buying and it seems this problem will continue to eternity if ZCF does not necessary the steps to address it. In fact, there is need for serious reforms and I think it should start from the top.
Dr. Malaba met up Bismark in the final round & played very aggressively, and bravely. He invested heavily in his attack ultimately found himself in a do or die situation where either his attack went through or he would be left looking foolish. It was a tense affair and both players got into time-trouble. Bismark stubbornly defended the position and won on time. Spencer Masango seemed likely to take the top prize but he was ousted from the top spot by Gift Sithole in the final round. Their game attracted many spectators as Spencer’s knight was trapped but kept on playing. The Chartered accountant Sithole had a knight and created seven passed pawns!! Sithole kept driving Spencer’s king to the 8th rank with all 7 pawns for the fans and finally delivered a checkmate and there was a loud applause of celebration from the crowd. Mufaro Mangono’s encounter with Elisha Chimbamu proved that the former who was hibernating greater part of this year is not a spent force yet. Mufaro assassinated Chimbamu to claim the joint second spot.
The last round sparked controversy as Farai Masanganise claimed a walkover on Gwaze. IM Robert Gwaze and Herbert Chibvuri, a brother to the Glen Norah Knights Chess Academy president, Mr. John Chibvuri came back in the last 3 minutes of the final round. It was the tournament director, Elton Mhangarayi’s fault who earlier on announced that the next round would begin at 1300hrs. He then started the games at 1200hrs when the IM and Chibvuri were not back yet. When Gwaze returned, Masanganise refused a replay citing that he won on time since he waited patiently for close to an hour. Both players were right but the problem was caused by ZCF’s mismanagement and confusion. The saga sucked in the ZCF president Mr. Charles T. Kuwaza who came and made a ruling that the games must to be replayed. Initially, Masanganise did not agree with this decision prompting Kuwaza to call for a closed short meeting where an option of compensation was discussed.
The final ruling on this matter was a replay. Masanganise protested and refused to play. Only Ishmael and his opponent the Police Officer Albert Maketo played. Gwaze simply pressed his clock waiting for Masanganise who did not turn up and was awarded a full point to win the tournament .Chess players had mixed feelings about the decision. This saga made Masanganise a voice of the voiceless as he warned ZCF about its confusion.
Linah Nyakunya chalked up 5points to scoop the best lady prize. Tatenda Zengeni scored 5 points to take the second best lady prize separated by Bucholz and the rest of the ladies scored 4.5 points below.
Panashe Eugene Mushaninga scooped the youngest player prize, Kuzimwani Bhaila got the best scholar and 2nd best scholar was scooped by Takunda Mudzingwa. Emanuel Musekiwa, Langton Mwanza and Tapiwa Gora could not make it into the scholar’s prizes this tournament.
Here are the final standings: 1. Robert Gwaze 6.5 points Joint 2. Dee Chivinda, Heath Darare, Mufaro Mangono, Gift Sithole, Bismark Bhobhojani, James Vhezha 6 points Joint 8. Spencer Masango and Anesu Masimba 5.5 points Joint 10. were 18 players as follows Anyway Zhuwawo, Reuben Muza, Rickie Malaba, Farai Masanganise, Elisha Thabo, Brighton Joshua, Munyaradzi Aringundia, Kuzimwani Bhaila, Lewis Kahoba, Taringana Guranungo, Tawanda Zambuko, Elisha Chimbamu, Licious Sixpence, Farirai Gumbe, Emerald Mushore, Lawrence Tawagwisa, Linah Nyakunya (best lady), Tatenda Zengeni (second best lady) all had 5 points
TOP 10 FINAL RESULTS CROSSTABLE
In his closing remarks the ZCF president Mr. Charles T. Kuwaza confirmed that Zimbabwe International Open Chess Tournament 2012 is scheduled for the last week of December 2011 to the first week of January 2012. ZCF is expecting players from the region to part and they got inquiries from Zambia, South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Madagascar, Kenya, Russia and Angola. He also apologised about what happened in the last round and went into prize giving ceremony with Mhangarayi and Bridget Murandu- Pumuyo’s assistance. The overall top ten Grandprix series winners will be awarded their prizes at Zim open in January 2012.
About the writer –Tribbie Tapiwanashe Motsi is the Marketing Executive of Chess Corner Africa. An active organization in the development of Chess in Zimbabwe, Africa and a leading chess equipment supplier!