With the defending champions out of the way, it is anybody’s chancy to grab the ultimate glory as the three-day Mdina Open Individual Chess Championship rolls into action tomorrow at College of Medicine (CoM) in Blantyre.
According to Chess Association of Malawi (Chessam) spokesperson Makhosi Nyirenda, the latest edition of the annual contest has registered a record number of 90 players but defending champions in the open and ladies’ sections Zambians Chitumbo Mwali and Phyllis Mwilolo, respectively, have missed the train.
But he said the unavailability of the two Zambians does not mean Malawian players should sit on their laurels expecting an easy ride because there are 12 foreigners (six Zambians, four Mozambicans and two Zimbabweans) that are capable of taking the crown.
“Two years after the dethroning of the last indigenous champion, Zambian top-rated players still haunt Malawi chess. In the latest episode, Timothy Kabwe, whose rating is 2169, is likely to be their marksman,” Nyirenda said.
But this does not imply Malawi does not have such quality players capable of taking home the ultimate K250 000 winner’s prize in the open A category, which is for individuals with a rating of 1800 and above.
Fresh from winning the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA)-sponsored Lisiti Langa national competition, the country’s top-rated chess gladiator Candidate Master (CM) Joseph Mwale carries the hopes alongside the likes of Africa Amateur Chess Champion CM Chiletso Chipanga and Fide Master (FM) Gerald Mphungu.
In the ladies’ section, Lisiti Langa champion Ellen Mpinganjira and Women Fide Master (WFM) Linda Jambo are favourites although Zimbabwean Talidyne Chaparadza , Mozambicans Sheilla Sitoi and Nuzela Fanela pose a threat of grabbing the K150 000 first prize.
The open section B category, which is for players with rating of 1800 and below, will have a clash of generations students from various colleges and secondary schools are ready to battle for the K80 000 prize alongside other individuals various portfolios.
The nine-round competition, sponsored by South Africa-based business person Tiwone Mdina, is expected to start at exactly 7am and will have three rounds per day.