Joseph Mwale wins 2022 CHESSAM National Championship for the 7th time

FIDE Master (FM) Joseph Mwale, attained 7 out of the maximum 9 points during the Chess Association of Malawi (CHESSAM) National Championship held in Mzuzu over the Easter weekend to stamp his authority as the country’s top rated player by clinching the title for the 7th time.

Rated at 2151, Mwale won 5 games and drew 4 to attain the 7 points and the title that includes being selected to represent Malawi at the World Chess Olympiad to be hosted in Chinnai, India from July 28-August 10.

Joseph Mwale and Priyasha at the winners podium

FM Mwale, who has won the CHESSAM National Championship in 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2019 and now 2022 — beat up-and-coming Praise Kalambo, Candidate Master (CM) Alfred Chinthere; FM Gerald Mphungu; Richard Chiona and Hubert Nanthambwe and drew with Stanford Chibambo; Joseph Nyambalo; Enerst Matola and Davie Mawango.

Stanford Chiwambo, at 1875 rating, went on to become Mwale’s runner-up with 6.5 points — tying on points with Joseph Nyambalo (2037) for third place after tie-breaker while Ernest Matola (1947) and CM Chinthere (2048) tied on 6 points to been broken into 4th and 5th respectively.

Held at Grand Palace Hotel, Mwale’s chess coaching student, Priyasha Shriyan — who is the ladies top rated player at 1583 — collected 8 points to be declared national champion to lead the ladies national team for the India World Olympiad.

Chess is one of the country’s sports disciplines being passionately played

Priyasha’s runner-up in the Ladies Section was Tapiwa Banda (1114), who attained 6 points with Tupokiwe Msukwa (1371) taking the third place from her 5.5 points — tying on points with Linda Jambo (1450) and Martha Kapalamula (1155), who were tie broken for 4th and 5th positions respectively.

In July last year, FM Joseph Mwale was controversially barred from participating at the FIDE World Cup in Sochi, Russia after a stand-off with CHESSAM leadership of president Susan Namangale.

Mwale was invited to the FIDE World Cup as a wildcard at the request of Namangale herself following his outstanding performance in the 2021 African Individual Chess Championship (AICC), which Malawi hosted in Lilongwe.

He came 5th place but only the top four automatically qualified for the World Cup Championship, but his performances far outclassed most players — many of whom had qualified for the African Individual Chess Championship by virtue of their countries being in the top 100 of FIDE ranking.

Thus Namangale had felt that Mwale’s performance was exceptional and obliged her to request FIDE president’s discretionary nomination of the Malawian player, which was granted.

But a few days later, Mwale was replaced by former African champion Chipanga Chiletso, accusing the FIDE Master of unacceptable behaviour.

However, that is water under the bridge since the Fide Master has represented Malawi many times, that include the Africa Individual in Namibia; All Africa Games in Morocco; Africa Juniors in Botswana and Zambia and the World Olympiad in Georgia, Turkey — where he attained his Fide Master title 2018.

He said: “I am so glad to win the CHESSAM National Championship — it was not easy because I was up against the best at this moment in time.

“It’s quite an honour to represent Malawi once more and together with the rest of the team — and the ladies section — we promise to raise the Malawi flag higher in India.”

He applauded Priyasha, his Mwale Chess Academy product — for her exceptional performance, while attributing that she is mostly coached by his brother George (rated 2049), who came 7th in the National Championship with 5.5 points.

“We started coaching Priyasha in 2019 and she has made tremendous strides ever since and has represented Malawi well on many occasions.

“The World Olympiad in India is another stepping stone for her to set herself a huge mark on the international stage,” said Mwale, whose chess Academy is helping shaping junior players since its formation some three years ago.

Under coaches CM George Mwale; CM Petros Mfune and South African Tshediso Mpya, the academy has made tremendous progress that saw it contributing several players that qualified to represent Malawi at the previous World Olympiad.

The students that represented the nation at the World Olympiad — which was played virtually — included Charity Tadeyo, Carol Trapence, Tupochele Mlanjira and Praise Kalambo.

Other academy products also had great turn up at African zonal tournaments through Lakshita Dutt, Dakhsesh Dutt and Priyasha Shriyan, who represented the country well with Shriyan finishing third.

Joseph accords Shriyan as his academy’s best product achievement, who won the senior ladies section of CHESSAM National Championship in 2019.

Mwale, who is an African Online Champion, moves bases between Malawi and South Africa where he earns a living through playing and coaching chess.

He has trained many South Africans who, from scratch, went on to attain titles that includes that country’s top Candidate Master Keith Khumalo and FIDE Master Naseem Essa.

The chess genius became a star in Malawi at a tender age of 8 — thus his interest to engage the youths and emulate what he achieved at their level.

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