Chiletso Chipanga to represent Malawi at Mdina Chess Open

National and African Amateurs chess champion Chiletso better be in his top form than he is now ahead of the all-important Mdina Malawi Open Chess Championship to be played from June 14 to 17 in Blantyre.

All eyes on Chiletso Chipanga

It’s just three weeks since his return from Cagliari, Italy at the World Amateurs where he finished an impressive 6th position out of 49 participants. He qualified for the World Amateurs after being crowned African Amateurs champion in Zambia in February.

Out of nine rounds played, Chipanga won six and lost three to garner six points, just one point behind eventual winner, Singh Arvider Preet of India, who had 7 points tying with Galavato Miguel Angel of Colombia, who came second.

But in the past two weeks local players managed to outwit the Candidate Master. Last week he came third in the day-long Masterplate Chess tournament that took place at Country Club Limbe in Blantyre in which veteran Leonard Sharra taught the younger generation how to do it in the highly patronized tournament.

Sharra finished with 6 points out of a possible 7 points to pocket with Razorblade Petros Mfune coming second with 5.5 points while Chipanga also scored 5.5 points but separated by the Bucholoz tie-breaking system. 

On Saturday, the Candidate Master Chipanga also came third in the Sempha Investment tournament that took place at Kamuzu Institute for Sports in Lilongwe in which he scored 5.5 points from a possible seven. 

The winner, Lilongwe-based Ernest Matola scored 6 points together with his runner-up Ken Foster, but they were separated by the Bucholloz tie-breaking system.

However, Chipanga vows to represent Malawi well at this 9th edition of the Mdina Malawi Open that was launched in 2010 as a local tournament before turning international in 2016. Ever since no player defended the title and none won it twice.

“It seems every player is working hard to stop me in my tracks and that’s a welcome development because it keeps us on our toes,” Chipanga said. “It means we will for sure represent Malawi well at the Mdina Open.”

 First local champion was Kajani Kaunda, Edgar Khan did it in 2011, Candidate Master (CM) Chiletso Chipanga in 2012, Fide Master Gerald Mphungu in 2013, Peter Jailosi in 2014 and (CM) Petros Mfune as the last Malawian in 2015.

When it turned international, Zambia CM Godwin Phiri won it and the feat was achieved by another Zambian, International Master Chitumbo Mwali. Ever since, 10 Zambians have participated. 

Chess Association of Malawi (Chessam) publicity secretary Makhosi Nyirenda said about 10 or so foreign players, four of them women, have expressed interest to come for the tournament but nobody has confirmed yet. 

Makhosi said all systems are set for the Mdina Malawi Open, which is trending well on africachessmedia.com where tournament sponsor Tiwone Mdina was awarded with the honour of the 11th  Wonder of African Chess for being the first African sponsor to flight a chess billboard in an African city advertising the Malawi Open.

Under the theme “Amazing African Chess Achievements”, africachessmedia.com reports: “Tiwone Mdina and Mdina Engineering Company went down in history to be the first African chess sponsor to flight a chess billboard in an African city for close to six months. 

“With the words ‘Mdina Engineering and Mdina Chess, Les Meilleurs…a gift to Malawi’s Chess’ easily readable on the imposing billboard, the artwork is being rotated in different strategic places in Blantyre, the commercial city of Malawi in readiness for the 2018 Mdina Malawi Open.”

Mdina is based in South Africa where his firm is quite established in which among other things, trades in road construction.

Also recognised is another Malawian, Joseph Mwale, who is the 8th Wonder for being the youngest ever chess champion of an African country in 2007 at the age of 13.

According to africachessmedia.com, the other player closest to breaking this record was Namibian champion Dante Beukes, who became Namibian champion at age 14). 

“Popularly known as ‘The Fear’, Mwale now lives and works as a chess coach in Durban, South Africa from where he also travels to various tournaments, and has won numerous events to his credit,” cites the website.

The first wonder is Grandmaster (GM) Amin Baseem from Egypt, the first African to cross the 2700 rating barrier in 2017. The second is another Egyptian GM Ahmed Adly, Zimbabwean Robert Gwaze, Olympian Board 1 Gold Medalist is third; Woman Grandmaster Mona Khaled from Egypt 4th; Zambian GM Amon Simutowe 5th.

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