Malawi’s Finesse Schools’ Chess championship 3rd edition on Saturday

Preparations for the third edition of Malawi’s special juniors’ Finesse Schools’ Chess 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, are at advanced stage to be played at Jacaranda Secondary School on Saturday.

School pupils are accorded opportunity to gain experience

This tournament is sponsored by Malawi Chess Association (Chessam) former publicity secretary Gilton Mkumbwa, in conjunction with Southern Region Chess League (SRCL).

The 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.

National School Chess Coordinator Magret Ngungama said the students will play seven rounds each in four categories — senior boys/girls and junior boys/girls.

“All seniors will play as school teams of four players per team while the juniors will play as individuals,” she said. “We are expecting more than 30 schools and about 150 students.

“We will also have participation from schools outside Blantyre such as those from Luchenza, Mangochi and Domasi in Zomba.”

Ngugama applauded the sponsor, Mkumbwa, school administrators, patrons, chess instructors and parents for encouraging their wards to play chess in the bid to promote the sport.

The Finesse Schools’ Chess championship is played in the first term of each academic year in preparation for other big tournaments and prizes on offer are chess materials.

At the initial announcement of the sponsorship, 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,” he had said.

Mkumbwa had said as an international chess arbiter, he has arbitrated in many international tournaments and he was impressed that many of the champions attained their status at a very tender age.

“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  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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