Gerald Mphungu realised his dream of winning a second major chess title this year on Sunday when he grabbed the Mdina Open Chess Championships crown at Hotel Victoria in Blantyre.
The 22-year-old, who was crowned champion of the Presidential Chess Tournament in July, finished the nine-round Mdina Chess finals with 7.5 points. He created a 1.5-point lead over his runner-up South Africa-based Joseph Mwale and third-placed Stanford Chibambo, who were separated by a buchholz tiebreaker.
Mphungu won all his six games in the first two days of the 18-player national finals. On the last day, he finished with three draws against last year’s champion Chiletso Chipanga, Fiskani Mwagomba and Alfred Chimthere.
Mphungu, a Polytechnic Bachelor of Business Administration student, won the second title without losing a single match.
Mphungu, who came second on the previous two Mdina annual contests, said his victory did not come as a surprise because he prepared for it.
“I was optimistic about winning the championship today. I spent some sleepless nights practising my openings and a number of variations on the chessboard. I will do the same to defend the title next year,” said Mphungu after receiving K100 000 and a trophy from Mdina Business Solutions representative Jeka Chipofya.
Mwale and Chibambo received K50 000 and K30 000 for taking second and third positions respectively while fourth-placed (six points) and fifth-placed Mwagomba (5.5 points) received K20 000 each.
Lilongwe-based Hubert Nanthambwe, who finished on 10th slot with four points, was named the best up-and-coming player.
During prize presentation, Chipofya told the gathering, which included guest of owner Sports Council executive secretary George Jana, council executive member Krishna Achuthan and Chess Association of Malawi (Chessam) vice-president Mark Chikoko, that they will continue sponsoring the annual contest.