Simbarashe Murimi, one of the arbiters at the recently held African Individual Chess Championship (AICC) was kind enough to grant us an interview regarding the tournament. We did not give him any time to rest at all. The interview was carried out around midnight. Enjoy!
Question (Bruce Mubayiwa): Simbarashe, you were one of the arbiters at AICC. I would like to find out more about the tournament from your perspective as an arbiter. What was your overall impression of the tournament?
Answer (Simbarashe Murimi): The tournament was well organised with a very impressive turnout with many titled players partaking. Most notable improvements are the performances of Uganda’s Harold Wanyama and the Angolan Candidate Master (CM) Simoes Joao who missed the 1st round but still managed to come 5th in the final standings. Grandmaster (GM) Adly Ahmed did a Carauna winning 7 games on the trot after being outplayed in 2 games.
Question: What was your impression on the quality of games during the tournament?
Answer: Apparently all participants had a reasonable grasp of opening theory in the Open section
Question: What did your duties involve as a FIDE arbiter in this tournament?
Answer: My duties entailed making sure that the playing environment meets the required standard for internationally rated tournaments. Fide rules are applied fairly with no preferential treatment
Question: I was surprised by the Grandmaster losing two games early on but his recovery was very impressive.
Answer: (GM Adly Ahmed) Him losing 2 games might be a Swiss gambit in that Swiss pairings are such that you get to meet slightly weaker opponents if you are on the lower boards.
Question: How did the arbiters split their duties from the international arbiter and fellow Fide Arbiters?
Answer: Water, teas and eats were provided for the players and spectators for the duration of the tournament! Duties between the chief arbiter are such that we rotate sections as arbiters with the chief Arbiter liaising with the organisers to make sure the environment is ideal for top level chess
Question: Is out too early at this stage to talk of AICC 2015?
Answer: 2015 AICC will be in Egypt. It’s now an annual event and the top 3 finishers in each section get to qualify for Africa Grand Prix Series which runs along the same lines with the current FIDE Grand Prix series.
Question: As an arbiter do you have ever find time for the odd game of blitz in between tournament rounds or there is no chess playing for you?
Answer: Since there were 2 sections we just split sections. We do play blitz games usually before the start of the rounds and in our rooms after a day’s work. Apparently once in a while we emulate what we might have seen during the official games
Question: We noticed that the tie break was first decided by results between players, any particular reason for using that instead of normal tie break like using Sonneborn-Berger?
Answer: Head to head encounters are better determinants of player strength. This flukes are removed this way.
Question: So I guess we can expect the current tie break system to stay as is.
Answer: Guess so
Question: There was some confusion on some social media channels regarding Kenny Solomon GM status. Is he now a Grandmaster (GM)?
Answer: The rules were such that the title of arbiter was to be awarded to the player who came clear 1st. Kenny Solomon as such just got another GM norm (Before the tournament Kenny Solomon had 3 GM norms). I am made to believe he has now amassed the required norms but has to get his rating to at least Elo rating of 2500!
Question: As an arbiter what were your biggest challenges in this tournament and how did you overcome them?
Answer: Fortunately at this level all the players are well versed in rules of play and prior to round one we had a technical meeting were all the rules were explained to team captains or country representatives. The only minor challenge we faced was players not feeling comfortable with spectators crowding on their boards and that we overcame by maintaining a cordon of sorts giving the spectators a chance to see brilliancy at work and the players not being overly put under pressure by being put under weight of spectators’ expectations
Question: Any final thoughts on AICC 2014 that you would like to share?
Answer: The idea of awarding winners with the title of GM is progressive thinking for we are starved of such titles in Africa
Question: Thank you very much for the interview Simbarashe. Hopefully we will be seeing you in more tournaments coming up.
More pictures from the event: