Kenani, Namangale co-sponsored schools’ chess tourney back

The co-sponsored schools’ chess development tournament by renowned Malawian writer and newspaper columnist Stanley Onjezani Kenani together with Chess Association of Malawi (CHESSAM) president Susan Musa Namangale is back this year set for this Saturday in Blantyre.

The PIS chess tournament in progress in Lilongwe last month

This Southern Region Chess League (SRVL) tournament, called S&S Geniuses Schools Chess Championship, with S&S standing for Stanley and Susan, is played on individual format and the prizes are chess materials such as full kit chess boards, trophies, medals, chess literature as well as drinking bottles and learning materials such as hard covers, mathematical instruments, school bags and T/shirts.

The targetted participants are Under-12 players and senior boys and girls.

Co-sponsor Kenani says he believes that chess is a good game and those with the opportunity to learn it while young deserve his support.

“Chess is a very important game worldwide as it teaches life lessons in strategic thinking, tactical manouvres, patience and perseverance.

“However, it remains severely under-sponsored. I appeal to individuals and organizations of goodwill to come on board and sponsor chess across the nation. We need to aim at procuding players who can compete at the highest level globally.

“For us to achieve this, we need to strengthen the game from the lowest level, i.e. in schools, communities, district, regional and then national level. This is why I agreed to join hands with Susan Namangale to sponsor a school competition,” Kenani said.

He confessed that he has been a competitive chess player but  did play in the national championship once, in 2001.

“While I won some games against some of the finest players, my performance in the tournament overall was dismal, and I realized I would never grow in chess the way I would grow in writing, my other passion.

“However, I do play the game a lot these days here in France where I am based, mostly with other players online on chess.com. At our work place there is also a chess club, where I alternate between playing on board one or board two, depending on my strength at any particular time.”

Last month, CHESSAM successfully hosted the national finals of the Presidential Initiative on Sports (PIS) at Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe that drew winners from all three regions of the country.

Once again, CHESSAM is pleased to preside over the S&S Schools Chess Tournament which Southern Region Chess League organises on our behalf,” Namangale said.

“Stanley Onjezani Kenani and I are committed to supporting the game of chess in any way we can. We would like to call upon fellow Malawians who love the game of chess to join us in our efforts so that more chess players can benefit across the country.

“Chess is a tool for education and social economic development. We are wishing the contenders all the best as they showcase their intellectual skills.”

She added that her passion is to see more Malawian youths play the game and maybe produce a grandmaster giving an example of neighboring Zambians, who produced a Grandmaster in Amon Simutowe.

“Why can’t we? And, you know, top-notch grandmasters end up earning a living through the game.”

Back in 2005, Ugandan Phiona Mutesi discovered a chess programme held in a church in the Katwe slum district in Kampala and she ended developing passion for the sport and 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,” Namangale said.

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