Malawi chess aiming to groom international grandmaster

Malawi Chess Association (Chessam) former publicity secretary Gilton Mkumbwa, in conjunction with Southern Region Chess League (SRCL), is once again organising to have a special juniors’ tournament that targets primary and secondary schools students, whose goal is to inspire youths to take the sport seriously and aim to become the best.

Mkumbwa (left) and Mdina, supporting chess in Malawi
Mkumbwa (left) and Mdina, supporting chess in Malawi

Called the ‘Finesse Schools’ championship, this tournament’s goal is to try and emulate what Egypt, now Africa’s best chess country, has achieved by nurturing youngsters to become international Grand Masters.

The SRCL Finesse Schools tournament shall be held on the 12th to 19th November at a venue yet to be identified and preparations for it, according to Chessam’s national schools chess coordinator Magret Ngugama, is at an advanced stage.

Mkumbwa said he, together with one of Malawi chess sponsor —  South Africa-based Tiwone Mdina — realised that the potential for the future of chess lay in the kids that Southern Region chess league is nurturing through Jungle Pepper training initiative.

“The training at Jungle Pepper is a great initiative but the kids lack the opportunity to properly showcase their skills through competitive tournaments,” said Mkumbwa, who is also an international chess arbiter.

“I have arbitrated in many international tournaments and I was impressed that many of the champions attained their status at a very tender age.

“An Indian currently holds the record as the youngest Grand Master at 11 years old, recently beating the record that an Italian held at 12 years old. The world’s number one is from Norway and he is only 13 years old.

“We can also nurture a Grand Master by concentrating on the kids already under intense training through the Jungle Pepper initiative and we need tournaments from which the kids can showcase their skills,” Mkumbwa said.

He said Egypt is Africa’s number one in chess and he learnt that they concentrated on training kids and at every tournament they make sure juniors are participating.

“They identify one or two juniors and concentrate on them through intense training with the goal to attain the Grand Master status. This is attainable in Malawi because we have very talented juniors that just need more guidance and exposure,” he said.

Mkumbwa, who has arbitrated in major international tournaments such as the World Olympiad, African Cup Championships (both at senior and junior level), Zone tournaments and the world amateur championship.

“In all the tournaments I have arbitrated, there were always juniors who performed beyond expectations and that’s what inspired me to be in the forefront to support schools’ tournaments.

He said Mdina, who is Malawi chess sponsor for a long time, is supporting this initiative and he applauded him for his tireless efforts.

According to Ngugama, the format is team participation by secondary schools and individual one by primary schools. A team is made of four players and a school can field two teams per category.

“We are expecting more than 30 schools to take part,” she said.

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5 years ago

Kunali Steve Saidi kunjaku, amakutumula chess ngati Bobby Fischer. Genius weniweni. He should groom the youngsters if he is still around.

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