South Africa-based Malawian chess genius, Joseph Mwale’s current international rating is at 2274, just short of 126 to reach the required 2400 in order to attain the International Master title, which is just one step closer to clinching the coveted Grand Master title.
Mwale, who is a Fide Master that he attained at the World Chess Olympiad that was held in Batumi, Georgia last year, can earn the International Master title outright even before reaching the required 2400 rating mark if he can win an African Zone Games title or being in the top three African individual games.
Just this month, he represented the country at the Zone 4.3 Games together with Woman Candidate Master (WCM) Ellen Mpinganjira held Antananarivo, Madagascar but he only managed to win four games, drew one and lost four to earn 4.5 points from 9 rounds while Ellen Mpinganjira got 3 points.
Chess Association of Malawi (Chessam) president Susan Namangale, who accompanied the two in Antananarivo, said their unsatisfactory performance was due to their unpreparedness because of the uncertainty of their participation due to lack of confirmation to acquire funds for travel and other logistics expenses.
Eight countries participated — Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Angola, Mauritius, Botswana and the hosts, whose representative, an International Master was the champion in the men’s Open Section and Woman International Master from Angola in the ladies.
Just like Joseph, Ellen Mpinganjira also attained the WCM title in Batumi while his brother George Mwale attained Candidate Master title.
He said since his return from Batumi, he has played a lot more games at local South African events where he has over the years won over 60 games.
“I lead the all-time winning chart and this year I have led with 7 tournament wins. So far, so good because my aim now is reach 2400 rating and the International Master title by end of next year.
“After the Fide Master title I hold, there is the International Master before attaining the Grandmaster, which is at the international rating of 2500.
“The Madagascar Zone 4.3 Games was great, thanks to Chessam for making it possible that we should participate. One thing I realized there is that I can and shall win that Africa zone tournament one day. So I will be working on a long term training plan to achieve that dream,” said the Malawian chess genius, who trekked to South Africa where he earns a living on chess but mostly in coaching kids.
On whether chess can become a career for financial sustenance, Joseph says this sport is so hard to attract good sponsors as it has less market and also has no fee-paying supporters like it is in soccer and other sports.
“Mostly people who sponsor chess are former players but to find someone who completely know nothing about the game to put money in it is not easy.
“For me, I am just more of a player who just love chess and winning tournaments. I earn a living in chess, yes, but mostly in coaching kids and winning tournament but it’s not enough to turn one into a professional player.
“I believe that with the effort I put in it and my wins, I should have been a millionaire by now if this game was well paid just like in football.”
Joseph believes Malawi chess is in better hands now, saying the new committe looks promising as it wants to turn things around.
“Susan has great vision and her committee is in the right direction by concentrating more on junior tournaments as grassroots development. Very soon Malawi can attain the status of the likes of South Africa, Angola and others if only they can be supported with good sponsorships from the corporate world,” he said.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :