Yebo Sanga becomes youngest Malawian chess player to be rated

Yebo Sanga, who turns 11 years old this year, has become the youngest Malawian chess player to be rated by Federation Internationalé des e’checs (Fide), the world chess governing body.

Yebo Sanga

Chess Association of Malawi (Chessam) publicity secretary Makhosi Nyirenda, said Sanga earned the rating following his constant participation in Southern Region Chess League (SRCL) tournaments played by seniors whose results are sent to Fide.

“His game is improving by the day,” Nyirenda said. “In a SRCL tournament he participated last month, Yebo brilliantly won three games out of six.

“A rating is a numeric figure designed to show the actual strength of a chess player. The higher the rating, the stronger the player.

“It’s Fide that does the rating based on the players’ performance in rated tournaments. His rating is 1247 and he is ranked number 73 of 81 rated players in Malawi.”

His father said he was a proud man that the youngster is excelling in the sport he really loves most.

“When he ventured into the sport, I never imagined he would turn up to be this good. I am so proud of him and I shall do everything possible to make sure he continues to rise up the ladder.”

The highest rated player is Joseph Mwale, who is based in South Africa and he continues to enjoy a rich vein of form there as he emerged at the summit of a fairly strong tournament that also featured a celebrated Zambian chess trainer, Musatwe Simutowe.

He won the Ukurhulepi Open after posting 5.5 points out of six. Another Malawian Richard Mbedza came 7th.

Mwale, whose rating is 2124, will turn 24 this year. He was a celebrated whizz kid who won a Malawian national championship at the age of 13 and has been in South Africa for the past three years.

From very humble beginnings, chess is now gradually becoming a serious sport and is favourably being competed at the international level.

Yet this is a sport that does not get much sponsorship and in most cases, the officials of Chessam dig deep in their pockets to organise and sustain rated tournaments.

What is admirable is also the programme to expose the game to school kids so that they learn the intricacies of this sport at a tender as opposed to earlier arrangement where the youths learnt the sport when they reached secondary school level.

Chessam decided to penetrate into schools to tap talent from and decided to create the post of national schools coordinator, whose role is to coordinate with teachers in training interested kids.

Chessam has sent deserving kids for international tournament and the recent was the African Schools Chess Championship that took place in Lusaka, Zambia in December.
Yebo Sanga participated in Under-11 and came 6th out of 11 and the other Malawian representative was Kezzie Msukwa Jnr. in Under-9 in which he finished 13th. Kezzie Jnr. is the son to Chessam president Kezzi Msukwa.

Chessam failed to secure sponsorship for the tournament and these two were sponsored by their own parents. Chessam is thus engaging the corporate world and other stakeholders to reserve some funds so that the country can be ably represented in the next year’s African Schools Chess Championship to take place in Namibia.

It’s also a source of inspiration that Chessam initiated a training programme for kids in collaboration with Jungle Pepper pizza restaurant at Chichiri Shopping Mall in Blantyre, where it has produced some players capable to represent Malawi at the international stage.

Yebo Sanga is a product of the Jungle Pepper training initiative.

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