Malawi chess genius Mwale guns for gold at All Africa Games

Team Malawi chess squad left the country on Thursday for the 2019 All Africa Games in Morocco and the country’s top rated player, FIDE Master (FM) Joseph Mwale says he is all geared to bring a gold medal.

Mwale (left) after joining the team in South Africa
Mwale, FM from Malawi

The 25-year-old Mwale, whose current rating is 2231, joined the team of fellow FM Gerald Mphungu and two lady players Daisy Nkhoma and Tupokiwe Msukwa in South Africa where he is based.

Mwale, who career in South Africa is solely chess as a professional player and coach, says he has been preparing very hard for this continental tournament in which is he does better he is bound to garner strong rating that shall enable him attain a higher title in his ambition to becoming an International Master (IM) and eventually that of Grandmaster.

“I spend all of my time here playing and coaching chess and if I will continue to play almost daily from September I will be accorded a training  programme which will lead me to earn higher ratings as well.

“I have chess materials for theory openings and help in improvement of calculations in general which I got from Grandmasters,” said Mwale, who describes his best achievement in chess as being Malawi’s youngest national champion at 13 years old in April 2007.

Chess Association of Malawi (Chessam) publicity secretary Alfred Chinthere said for one to attain the Grandmaster titles they must first achieve three Grandmaster norms, or win a continental tournament comprising grandmasters.

“After attaining the FM title, one has to achieve IM title first, enroute to GM. GM is generally a tough ask in Africa, especially southern Africa.

“We have two GM’s in southern Africa, Kenny Solomon of South Africa but is based in Italy and Zambian Amon Simutowe based in USA.

“Zambia has more IM’s (about 10) who have stayed on that title for many years — some over a decade — but fail to progress to GM status. South Africa and Angola also have a good number of IM’s but they have been stagnant.

“My assessment is that an IM title is attainable for Joseph, perhaps by next year and if he can attain a GM title within two years from today, then it could be a model of meteoric rise,” Chinthere said.

With his rating at 2231, Mwale is just short of 169 to reach the required 2400 in order to attain the IM 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 title outright even before reaching the required 2400 rating mark if he can win the gold at the All Africa Games.

Team Malawi at the All Africa Games that started on August 19-31, comprise two athletes from judo, Chikondi Kathewera in 60kgs and Harriet Boniface in 48kgs while table tennis has Floriano Massah Jnr and Salam Issah.

Athletics has Stain Lifa (100m), Gift Kawale (200m), Kefasi Kesteni (5000m), Chauncy Master (10,000m), Golden Gunde (400m), Miriam Kachingwe (5,000m) and 2018 Malawi Sports Awards Junior Athlete of the Year, Moneyi Chingaipe in 1,500m and 5,000m.

Taekwondo has Joseph Phiri Jnr (68kgs), Stanislaus Karlos Phiri (74kgs) and Vester Banda (56kgs) while Felipe Gomez is for swimming.

Interesting inclusion is that of three archers, Mark Abel, Bzalani Kamtotole and Areneo David, ho is based in Switzerland and won a gold medal at the FITA Open Competition which took place on June 23 in his host country.

Areneo came to prominence in 2016 when he competed at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro where he etched a historic mark for Malawi as the first ever archer to compete in an Olympic tournament.

For winning the FITA Open Competition in June 23 in Switzerland, gave him all the chances of qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

David, 24, is from Kambalame Village, Traditional Authority Mavwere in Mchinji District and he was one of the Malawian athletes who were awarded scholarships by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to be in high performance centers abroad to prepare for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Coached by Korean Park Young-sook, he so far he has five medals — two gold, two bronze and and one silver.

In January this year, he won the silver medal in an 18-metre indoor championship also staged in Switzerland which attracted 30 participants.

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