Team Malawi ladies beat Seychelles, men draw with Jordan

The ladies Team Malawi beat fellow Africans Seychelles 3-1 while the men’s drew 2-2 with Jordan in the 7th round of the ongoing 43rd World Chess Olympiad taking place in the Eastern European city of Batumi in Georgia.

Team Malawi’s men’s (left to right) Mphungu, Chipanga, Mwale and Chiona

Daisy Nkhoma, Annie Simwaka and Magret Ngugama won while Ellen Mpinganjira lost hers. In the men’s 2-2, Fide Master (FM) Gerald Mphungu won while Candidate Masters (CM) and brothers Joseph and Geroge Mwale drew with Richard Chiona losing.

So far men’s Team Malawi have just won two matches, against Guam 3-1 and Cyprus 2.5-1.5 while the ladies have now won twice against fellow Africans Rwanda 2.5-1.5 and drew 2-2 with another fellow Africans Namibia.

On Sunday, both the men’s and ladies teams lost 1-3 to Chinese Taipei and Thailand respectively. CM Joseph Mwale and Magret Ngugama salvaged Malawi’ pride by registering wins.

On Saturday the Olympiad’s was on a break. On Friday, team Malawi’s top ranked player Joseph Mwale saved the men’s team from annilation by drawing with International Master (IM) Mher Hovhannisyan of Belgium as the other three lost while the ladies all lost to Ireland.

On Thursday, the ladies team salvaged some pride by beating fellow Africans Rwanda 2.5-1.5 after the men’s side lost all four games against Mongolia in the 4th round while on Wednesday the men’s beat Cyprus 2.5-1.5 in their third round as the ladies drew 2-2 with Namibia.

In the second round on Tuesday, September 25 the men’s team beat Guam 3-1 while the ladies lost won one, drew one and lost two to fellow Africans Uganda.

In their first matches played on Monday last week, the men’s team fell 0-4 to an all-grandmaster Brazilian opponents: GM Alexander Fier against FM Mphungu, GM Luis Paulo Supi against George Mwale, GM Krikor Sevag Mekhitarian against CM Chiletso Chipanga and GM Felipe de Cresce el Debs against Richard Chiona.

The women’s opponents were also beaten 0-4 by Luxembourg’s WGM Elvira Berend, two International Master (WIM) Liana Aghabekiam, Fiona Steil-Antoni, one WFM Grayna Bakalarz and WCM Hanten Elsa.

Most opponents Malawi have met were top ranked and titled while Malawian titled players are WFM Linda Jambo-Chaononga, FM Mphungu, CM Chiletso Chipanga and CM Joseph Mwale.

One of the highlights of the Olympiad was in the women’s section where Malawi’s top player WFM Jambo-Chaononga bravely lost to Uganda’s WFM Phiona Mutesi. Mutesi is Uganda’s celebrated woman chess player, who also rose to prominence through the real life  movie that Hollywood made called ‘Queen of Katwe’.

Joseph Mwale, who is one of Team Malawi’s strong players, missed the thrashing by Brazil because he arrived late as he had to fly out from his base in South Africa to connect with the rest of the squad in Tbilisi, the Georgian capital city and in the two games he has played he won both.

Chess Association of Malawi (Chessam) president Susan Namangale, who is leading the squad, said the players desire is to be in top 100 as the games continue.

Prior to the Olympiad, Team Malawi underwent a specialised training camp in Blantyre mentored by Russian GM Vasily Papin who drilled the squad for two weeks in August.

During the training camp, the Russian Grandmaster Vasily Papin played an exhibition simultaneous matches against 23 players in which he  beat 21 and drew with three; CM Chipanga, George Mwale and Daisy Nkhoma.

CM Chipanga, who is the 2018 African Amateurs Champion and is also the inspirational for the squad, is the Malawian record holder of having been to six consecutive chess Olympiads since 2008; the World’s most prestigious chess event on the FIDE (World Chess Federation) calendar.

The last Olympiad in 2016 that took place in Baku, Azerbaijan and Malawi was ably represented there as well through FM Mphungu, CM Petros Mfune, CM Chipanga, Alfred Chimthere and Paul Khuphwathea in Open Section while the ladies were Linda Jambo,  Ellen Mpinganjira, Vitumbiko Gondwe, Daisy Nkhoma and Tupokiwe Msukwa.

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