Kenani to co-sponsor Malawi school’s’ chess tourney

Renowned Malawian writer and newspaper columnist Stanley Onjezani Kenani is set to sponsor,  early next year, a Southern Region school’s chess tournament in conjunction with one of the country’s great female chess players, Susan Musa Namangale.

Part of action during last week’s Finesse school’s chess tournament
Kenani: Check mate
Co-sponsored at MK300,000 and whose cheque was already presented to Southern Region Chess League (SRCL), last week, the tournament’s name is S&S Geniuses Schools Chess Championship — S&S standing for Stanley and Susan.
It will be played on individual format and the prizes shall be chess materials such as full kit chess boards and chess literature.
The targetted participants are four Under-12 players and senior boys and girls.
A statement from the two sponsors says: “We are delighted to sponsor this competition because empirical evidence shows that chess is essential for young minds to learn and master.”
They quote the book Championship Chess, by Dr. Robert Ferguson, as saying: “playing chess well increases spatial, numerical, and administrative skills.  There is also improvement in logic, creativity, and IQ.  Chess has also been found to increase both math and verbal skills.”
“We wish more Malawians could come on board to increase the sponsorship amount. There are many schools in Malawi and to reach them all, a bigger funding is required.
“For now, what is needed is to make the most of what we have. Sometimes grandmasters come from harsher backgrounds, where there isn’t even any sponsorship worth talking about.
“Back in 2005, for instsnce, Phiona Mutesi discovered a chess programme held in a church in the Katwe slum district in Kampala. Potential players were enticed with a free cup of porridge, and Mutesi began organising her days around her visits to the church.
“The young girl developed a talent for chess, which was introduced in Uganda in the 1970s by foreign doctors. Two years into the game, Mutesi became Uganda’s national women’s junior champion, retaining the title the following year.
“She participated in her first big competition, Africa’s International Children’s Chess Tournament, in South Sudan in 2009. Since then Mutesi has competed in chess Olympiads in Siberia, Turkey and Norway – after which she was given the Woman Candidate Master ranking by the World Chess Federation.
“Overseas, Mutesi has also played against her hero, Russian former world champion and Grandmaster Garry Kasparov, and inspired school students in the US to start a tournament in her name.
“Now Hollywood has made a whole movie based on Mutesi’s life. It is called Queen of Katwe. Our hope is that Mutesi’s story will inspire more young Malawians to learn the beautiful game of chess and to soar in it. There is no limit as to the heights one can reach. The only limit is in your minds.
“[The youths should] learn the game. They should study previous games and memorise some of the best moves from the masters. On the board, [they should] analyse each move. Even when an opponent starts the game with D4 instead of, say, the more conventional E4, you should ask yourself, why? And what must my response be? D5? Nf6? What if I take a different route and throw him or her off-balance? Think, that is the key word.
“And that is why we have decided to sponsor this tournament. We want the youths to master the skills of deep thinking and analysis,” say the two in their statement.
Just last week, Southern Region schools participated in a special tournament called Finesse Chess Championship played at Jacaranda Secondary School.
The tournament is sponsored by former Chess Association of Malawi (Chessam) publicity secretary Gilton Mkumbwa, who is also an international chess arbiter.

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