Gilton Mkumbwa, sponsor of Malawi’s Southern Region schools special tournament called Finesse Chess Championship, has donated two chess sets, two chess literature and 10 chess DVDs at Mbidzi Secondary School in Lilongwe in recognition of the students passion for the game.
Mkumbwa, who is former Chess Association of Malawi (Chessam) publicity secretary and also an international chess arbiter, said it was made known to him about Mbidzi passion for the sport through the school’s teacher Tapiwa Banda.
“The teacher was compelled to approach me after she learnt of how I assist Southern Region schools through the Finesse tournament,” Mkumbwa said.
“Coupled with my own desire to assist school students to keep up with their passion for the game, I did not hesitate by responding to the teacher’s request so that they can advance their game.”
Mkumbwa chess is fast developing in schools and one of the reasons to sponsor the Finesse tournament and the donation of chess equipment to Mbidzi is to enable Malawi produce an international chess grandmaster.
“Other African countries have produced international grandmasters and why not Malawi? I have arbitrated international matches where there were very young grandmasters and that moved me to do something so that maybe one day Malawi can also have one.”
Schools chess is being recognised rapidly with support. After the Finesse tournament held at Jacaranda Secondary School in Malawi’s Blantyre District last month, renowned Malawian writer and newspaper columnist Stanley Onjezani Kenani pledged to sponsor a Southern Region school’s chess tournament in conjunction with one of the country’s great female chess players, Susan Musa Namangale.
It will be co-sponsored at MK300,000 and whose cheque was already presented to Southern Region Chess League (SRCL) and the tournament’s name is S&S Geniuses Schools Chess Championship — S&S standing for Stanley and Susan.
It will be played on individual format and the prizes shall be chess materials such as full kit chess boards and chess literature.
The targetted participants are four Under-12 players and senior boys and girls.
In a staement, the two appealed to more Malawians to come on board to increase the sponsorship amount.
“There are many schools in Malawi and to reach them all, a bigger funding is required. For now, what is needed is to make the most of what we have. Sometimes grandmasters come from harsher backgrounds, where there isn’t even any sponsorship worth talking about.
They gave an example of Ugandan girl, Phiona Mutesi, who defied all odds at a tender age back in 2005 and two years into the game, she became Uganda’s national women’s junior champion and retaining the title the following year.
Since then Mutesi has competed in chess Olympiads in Siberia, Turkey and Norway – after which she was given the Woman Candidate Master ranking by the World Chess Federation.
And Hollywood has made a whole movie based on Mutesi’s life. It is called Queen of Katwe.
“Our hope is that Mutesi’s story will inspire more young Malawians to learn the beautiful game of chess and to soar in it. There is no limit as to the heights one can reach. The only limit is in your minds.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :