Malawian chess leagues urged to speed up qualifiers for national Kumudzi Club Championship

 Chess Assocition of Malawi (Chessam) has asked the three regional chess leagues to speed up their Kumudzi Club Chess Championship qualifiers so that the organisers can meet the deadline of 17 December, 2016 for the national finals.

Gerrard Mphungu, Malawi's highest titled chess player as FIDE Master
Gerrard Mphungu, Malawi’s highest titled chess player as FIDE Master

Chessam Publicity Secretary Makhosi Nyirenda said it’s only a few weeks to go for the national finals and time is not on their side.

“We have noticed that the regional leagues have delayed a bit, partly because of the national tournaments and the Chess Olympiad held in Baku, Azerbaijan, but this should not be an excuse to delay honouring this equally important event on our calendar.

“They can juggle with their calenders to meet the deadline,” Makhosi said.

He said the MK1 million Kumudzi Club Championship, which was launched in August, is a step towards cultivating a chess culture in the country.

A total of 30 teams registered in all the three regions and three teams will qualify per region to sort it out at the finals set for Lilongwe .

Meanwhile, in the Northern Region Chess League, Mchengautuwa are leading with Katoto second and Zolozolo third while in the Central League, which has found a conducive venue at Anamwino Restaurant, Area 25’s Castles are leading, followed by Sweeping Pawns of Area 49 and Alenje of Area 23.

But, it appears in Southern League (SRCL) there is so much imbalance in games played by the teams that Chessam cannot work out the ranking list.

Last week, SRCL organised 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

Called the ‘Finesse Schools’ championship, it is a tournament sponsored by former Chessam publicity secretary Gilton Mkumbwa, in conjunction with South Africa-based chess enthusiast Tione Mdina.

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 sponsor Mkumbwa said he 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 had 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.

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