S&S Geniuses tourney goes North in promotion of chess in Malawi

One of the country’s great female chess players, Susan Musa Namangale,  in conjunction with renowned Malawian writer and newspaper columnist Stanley Onjezani Kenani, plan to co-sponsor another special tournament for youths after their successful S & S Geniuses championship held at St. Andrews international school in the Southern Region of Malawi two weeks ago.

Namangale poses with some of the winners at the S & S Geniuses tournament at St. Andrews on Feb 3
Part of the action at St. Andrews on Feb 3

Representing Kenani, who is based in Geneva, Namangale said the two sponsors are in discussion with another strategic partner to be unveiled soon to sponsor in the Northern Region.

“Chess has not been so active at grassroot level up North,” Namangale said. “Since concentration is in the South and the Centre, the improvement should be equal in all regions of the country.

“When we announced that we will sponsor the S & Geniuses tournament, we wished more Malawians could come on board to increase the sponsorship amount and we are glad that we are in talks with another strategic partner to sponsor the tournament in the North.

“There are many schools in Malawi and to reach them all, a bigger funding is required. Our passion is to see more Malawian youths play the game and maybe produce a grandmaster. Zambia produced a Grandmaster in Amon Simutowe. Why can’t we? And, you know, top-notch grandmasters end up earning a living through the game.”

“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 like what happened in Uganda with Phiona Mutesi, who discovered a chess programme held in a church in the Katwe slum district in Kampala in 2005.

“Potential players were enticed with a free cup of porridge, and Mutesi began organising her days around her visits to the church. The young girl developed a talent for chess, which was introduced in Uganda in the 1970s by foreign doctors. Two years into the game, Mutesi became Uganda’s national women’s junior champion, retaining the title the following year.

“She participated in her first big competition, Africa’s International Children’s Chess Tournament, in South Sudan in 2009. 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.

“Overseas, Mutesi has also played against her hero, Russian former world champion and Grandmaster Garry Kasparov, and inspired school students in the US to start a tournament in her name.

“Now 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.

“[The youths should] learn the game and we should g8ve them that opportunity. That’s why Stanley and I came up with this sponsorship,” she said.

Excellent chess related prizes were up for grabs Saturday February 3 at St. Andrews and Namangale promises more fireworks for the Northern Region tournament. The prizes were chess sets, clocks and medals and the targetted participants were Under-12 players and senior boys and senior girls.

Southern Region also has another schools’ special tournament called Finesse Chess Championship which is sponsored by former Chess Association of Malawi (Chessam) publicity secretary Gilton Mkumbwa, who is also an international chess arbiter.

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4 years ago

This is good news and a great initiative. Looking forward to seeing a Malawian GM in the near future.

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