Grandmasters inspire Malawi chess genius Mwale to participate at  Zambia Open

After learning that the Zambia Chess Federation has invited three Grandmasters (GMs) for this year’s Zambia Open International Championship, Malawi’s chess genius, FIDE Master (FM) Joseph Mwale says he is now all geared up to make sure he does not miss this opportunity.

Mwale, FM from Malawi
Petr Kiryakov, GM from Russia
GM Grover, Mwale’s rival in South Africa

The Zambia Open is scheduled from June 27 to July 3, which is just four days after the South Africa Open, to be played from June 15-23 which the Malawian is also all set to play.

In an earlier interview with Nyasa Times, Mwale had said he was not yet decided whether to participate in the Lusaka event as he is busy preparing for the South Africa Open. Last weekend, he won the Cape Town Open and that he would have loved to play in the Zambia Open.

However, he had said he would see how he can juggle around his busy schedule so that he could also travel to Lusaka to participate.

But after learning that the Zambians have invited the three GMs — Hesham Abdelrahman from Egypt, Petr Kiryakov from Russia and Sahaj Grover from India, Mwale now says he is trying his best to make it to Lusaka’s Olympic Youth Development Centre, venue for the Open.

“It’s now more interesting to go fight them, more especially Sahaj Grover, whom I played with in SA where we are based. We played one classic normal game and two blitz matches, which I lost all.

“They were all very close and in one game I nearly beat him. Sahaj is now staying and studying in SA.”

According to reports, Grover beat Mwale in the final round to win Broadwalk Pearson Open in March 2018 in 63 moves to take his tally to 7.5 and clinch the title while the Malawian finished 4th with 4.5.

The runner-up and third-placed winners were South Africans, Daniel Cawdery (on 6.5) and Jack van Zyl-Rudd (on 5.5).

According to the reports, this was Grover’s second title in the classical format within a year and the former World junior bronze medallist won the South African Open title in Durban winning at 7.5 points) with Angola David Silva on second place with 4) and Zambia Geoffery Luanja also on 4.

Other GMs has played against Mwale are Strikovic Aleska from Serbia whom he drew with in the South Africa Open in which Mwale was 4th. In the Arnord Schwarzenegger Blirtz played two weeks ago, Mwale finished second after losing to GM Grover.

So Mwale has more reasons to yearn for the Zambia Open in order to try and beat his rival Grover and more so because Mwale eyes the International Masters (IM) title by end of this year.

His current international rating is at 2274, just short of 126 to reach the required 2400 in order to become IM, which is just one step closer to clinching the coveted Grand Master title.

Mwale attained the FM title at the World Chess Olympiad that was held in Batumi, Georgia last year and he can earn the IM status outright even before reaching the required 2400 rating mark if he can win an African Zone Games title or being in the top three African individual games.

Last month, he represented the country at the Zone 4.3 Games together with Woman Candidate Master (WCM) Ellen Mpinganjira held Antananarivo, Madagascar but he only managed to win four games, drew one and lost four to earn 4.5 points from 9 rounds while Ellen Mpinganjira got 3 points.

Since his return from Batumi, Mwale has played a lot more games in local South African events where he has over the years won over 60 games and leads the all-time winning chart. After the Cape Town tournament, he now has eight wins this year alone.

In an earlier interview, Mwale had said he was now focused on winning the regional Zone 4.3 Games and other African titles in order to reach the GM status.

“One thing I realized there is that I can and shall win that Africa zone tournament one day. So I will be working on a long term training plan to achieve that dream,” said the Malawian chess genius, who trekked to South Africa where he earns a living on chess but mostly in coaching kids.

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