Kasparov Chess Foundation taking chess to new levels in Africa

Kasparov Chess Foundation Africa is making huge strides in developing and growing the game of chess  on the continent.KCFA logo

The foundation was involved in organizing  numerous FIDE rated events  during the course of 2014.  2014 saw a dramatic increase in the number of tournaments sponsored by the Kasparov Chess Foundation Africa and they were ultimately involved in no less than 18 FIDE rated tournaments in one form or another.

The foundation delivered chess equipment and made strides in helping to roll out coaching services to the African continent. They have programmes in Uganda, Lesotho and South Africa and look set to launch new pilot programs in Rwanda and Madagascar in January 2015.

This year (2015) the Kasparov Chess Foundation will be also rolling out aggressively MiniChess program.  They awardede KCF Africa academic study grants for chess players.

Below is more detail on the tournaments KCFA was involved in during 2014.

Gambian Open

The KCFA 2014 tournament activities started in The Gambia with the 2014 Gambia Open Chess Championship. This event was held from the 29th February to the 2nd March 2014 in honour of the 49th National Day Anniversary. This was one of their very first formal tournaments in West Africa and was eventually won by Mr Ebrima Bah who pocketed a nice purse of USD 600 for his efforts. A full report is available at  http://46.21.207.53/gk/Kasparov_Tour/Gambia/Gambia_en.html.

East African Open in Kenya and Easter Open in Zimbabwe

KCFA were able to support their first major events in both Kenya and Zimbabwe in April 2014. Both events were highly successful and significant in that they represented the first FIDE rated events to be held in both countries for many years. The events served to showcase the local talent, attract international players and also evidence what can be achieved when sponsors and the local chess federations and organisers work closely together. Both tournaments offered prize funds of more than USD 5000 and saw many local players playing in FIDE rated events for the first time.

The East African Open in Kenya was ultimately won by FM Arthur Ssegwanyi who put in an incredible performance to win the tournament ahead of IM Elijah Emojong. Full results from this can be found at http://chess-results.com/tnr131367.aspx?lan=1&art=1&rd=7&wi=821.

GM Sergei Kasparov from Belarus and IM Providence Oatlhotse from Botswana tied for first place at the Easter Open in Zimbabwe. The full results from this closely contested tournament are at http://chess-results.com/tnr131432.aspx?lan=1&art=1&rd=7&wi=821

The impact of some of these events is evidenced by news clips such as this one that featured on Kenya National TV shortly after the conclusion of the East African Open. http://movesforlifeblog.wordpress.com/2014/04/23/chess-as-a-tool-in-education-in-africa-and-south-africa/

Capablanca and Steinitz Festivals in South Africa

These two South African Festival events were among the largest FIDE rated tournaments to be held on the continent in 2014. Both featured in excess of 300 players and between the two tournaments we welcomed top players from numerous African countries including Swaziland, Lesotho, Botswana, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia! Both tournaments offered GM norm sections in 2014 which were designed to provide much needed experience for Africa’s top players in the lead up to the 2014 Olympiad in Tromso.

South Africa’s IM Kenny Solomon started what would prove to be a defining year in his career with a bang when he won the GM section of the Capablanca Open ahead of 3 highly rated GM’s! He then followed this up with a second top effort by placing second in the GM section of the Steinitz Open behind GM Alexsa Strikovic from Serbia. FM Andrew Kayonde from Zambia also deserves a special mention as he secured his maiden IM norm at the
Capablanca tournament!
Full results from the Capablanca Festival are available at
http://chess-results.com/tnr132798.aspx?lan=1&art=1&rd=9&turdet=YES&wi=984
whilst the results from Steinitz can be found at
http://chess-results.com/tnr133530.aspxlan=1&art=1&turdet=YES&flag=30&wi=984

World Amateurs in Singapore 

In May 2014, KCFA partnered with the Kasparov Chess Foundation Asia Pacific to facilitate the participation of four African chess players and two arbiters to the 2014 World Amateur Chess Championships in Singapore. The tournament was held at the PASIR RIS SPORTS HALL from 25 April to 04 May 2014 and KCFA assisted players and officials from Lesotho, Malawi, Ethiopia and South Africa to experience this unique tournament! The final results from the event are available at the official tournament website at http://www.wacc2014.com/

Kenya vs Tanzania Challenge Match in Tanzania

The match held between Team Kenya and Tem Tanzania in June represented another first as KCFA piloted a Scheveningen pairing system with the aim of helping members of the Tanzanian team to secure FIDE ratings for the first time. The format proved to be a great success and eventually 7 Tanzanian players succeeded in getting FIDE ratings. Final results from the match are at http://chess-results.com/tnr137081.aspx?lan=1&art=4&wi=821. The event was organised to coincide with a visit by former World Champion Viswanathan Anand who kindly agreed to support the marketing of chess in Tanzania. His visit was arranged by local internet solution provider SpiceNet which has been a great supporter of Chess in Tanzania for a number of years.

Presidents Cup in Ghana

The 4th President’s Cup in Ghana attracted top players from across the West Africa region as well as the Indian Grandmaster Sriram Jha who won the FIDE section with a total of 7½ points out of 9 games. The Championships were made up of three tournaments including a FIDE rated section, an Open section and a Blitz event. The FIDE section, was the first to be organised in the history of Ghana chess and attracted players from five different countries. KCF Africa co-sponsored the tournament with local companies Reiss & Co and UT Bank. Invited international players included GM Sriram Jha from India, IM Olape Bunmi from Nigeria and IM Johannes Mabusela from South Africa. National champions from Nigeria, Cote d Ivoire and Ghana were also all on hand to add to what turned out to be a very strong field.

First tournament in Katanga, DRC

KCF sponsored one of the first formal chess tournaments ever to be in Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The tournament took place on 8 June 2014, and was held at the “Académie Temps D’ance”. It attracted a commendable total of 46 players and was well supported by a local sponsors in the form of Airtel (the mobile phone operator). Mr Gaspard Mashala won the open section with a full score of 5/5. The prizes were mainly cell phones, USB cards, T-shirt and pens from Airtel but the biggest prize went to the community in the form of a USD 3,000 donation from KCF Africa. These funds will be used to purchase in excess of 2,000 chess sets and boards which will be distributed to schools all over the province of Katanga to help popularize the game!

Lagos Classic and Nigerian Breweries National Open
October saw two major events in Nigeria. The flagship event during this period was probably the 2014 Lagos Classic which offered more than USD 20,000 in prize money and attracted players from Egypt, Ghana, Cote d Ivoire and Kenya.
Egyptian IM Ezat Mohamed won the tournament with a dominant performance of 6.5/7 and pocketed the first prize of USD 6000 in the process! He finished a full point ahead of 5 players who tied for second on 5.5/7. These included his compatriot, and the defending champion, IM Hesham Abdelrahman as well as GM Sriram Jha from India.

The FIDE rated section attracted an impressive total of 56 players including a GM and 6 IM’s. The top 26 players had ratings in excess of 2000+ making this easily one of the best events in West Africa. Full results are available at http://www.chess-results.com/tnr149308.aspx?lan=3&art=1&wi=821

The Lagos Classic followed closely on the heels of the 37th Nigerian Breweries National Chess Open Championship took place in Lagos, from the 16th – 19th October 2014. This impressive event offered a total prize fund of USD 15,000 across all categories and a first prize of USD 3,000.

CM Kigigha Bomo emerged victorious scoring a total of 6/7 to win on tie-break ahead of CM Sorungbe Ademola who held GM Jha to a draw with the black pieces in the final round. In the ladies section, Omolabake Coker successfully defended the title she won in 2013, pocketing N 150,000 and the trophy in the process.

Ghana National Championships

The 2014 GHANA NATIONAL CHESS CHAMPIONSHIPS took place at the media centre of the Accra Sports Stadium between the 25th October and 2nd November. KCF Africa sponsored tournament which featured the top sixteen players in the country. This closely contested event came down to a play off between Francis Anquandah and Kojo Hasford who both scored 7.5/9. Kojo won the tie-break match and retained his title as Ghana National champion whilst Philip Ameku ended in 3rd place. In the women’s section, Angela Ayiku retained her title with a perfect score of 9/9 ahead of Sarah Sena and Dorcas Allotey. The event received excellent media coverage from TV3 and was also sponsored by Zoobashop, Sterling Projects and Indomie.

2014 Lesotho Closed
In November, KCF Africa supported the Lesotho National Championship which were held at the Scenery Guest House in Maseru and featured 40 of the best players in the country who had qualified by way of regional events. Khalema Sechaba won the event outright with a score of 5.5/7 to claim the title of National Champion. He held his nerve in a tense final round to end ahead of Nts’onyane Phamotse and Ramakabane Refuoe who both scored 5points. The top lady was Itumeleng Molupe.

KCF Executive Director, Mr Graham Jurgensen, was on hand to present the prizes to the winners. He was also able to visit some of the schools where the MiniChess program is being run and gather first hand feedback from the teachers and principals involved in the program.

The MiniChess program is clearly having a very positive impact in the classrooms in Lesotho and will no doubt unearth future chess talent for the country in the near future.

Chess Excellence Summer Cup in Johannesburg
The final event for 2014 in 2014 was the ChessExcellence Summer Cup which brought another strong FIDE rated tournament to Gauteng in South Africa. The tournament was held over the weekends of 29th November and 6th December 2014 and featured a FIDE Rated Open Swiss tournament offering a prize fund of ZAR 25,000! This is intended to be the first of a series of similar events that will run in the Gauteng Province in 2015. The tournament was won by Stephen Skosana who capped a very good year when we took first place on tie-break ahead of Brighton Mthunzi. Both players finished on 6/7 pocketing almost ZAR 4,000 and around 30 ELO points each. Final results are available at http://chess-results.com/tnr153324.aspx?lan=1&art=1&rd=7&wi=821

Zimbabwe Open in Harare
The 2014 Zimbabwe Open was the final event of the year and the prize fund of USD 5000 attracted an impressive starting field with the top 15 players all rated 2100+! A strong contingent from Zambia as well as two top players from Botswana promises made this one of the most interesting and closely followed events of the year. The top seed was IM Rodwell Makoto from Zimbabwe and there were 5 other IM’s in the field which meant that the tournament offered the theoretical possibility of an IM norm. The closely contested event was eventually won by IM Gillan Bwalya who made an impressive return to top level tournament chess after recently completing his national service in Zambia. IM Rodwell Makoto from Zimbabwe, IM Kelvin Chumfu from Zambia and IM Providence Oatlhotse from Botswana tied for second place what turned out to be one of the toughest tournaments of the year!

International Arbiter Clive Mphambela did a great job of running continuous updates on the tournament on the Zimbabwe Chess Facebook page and must also be congratulated from running a great tournament. The final results are available at http://chess-results.com/tnr157061.aspx?lan=1!

Equipment Donations

Access to affordable chess equipment remains a major challenge and KCF Africa have been able help a number of chess federations in this regard in 2014. Federations that benefited from the direct donation of boards and sets in 2014 include Kenya, Botswana, Zambia, South Africa, Lesotho and Madagascar. Kenya received a massive donation of over 5000 chess boards and sets in November 2014 as a result of a direct donation to KCF Africa which was specifically earmarked for this country by the donor. In addition KCF Africa has now ordered a consignment of a further 6000 boards and sets which are due to be split between the chess federations of Ethiopia, Sudan, Tanzania, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Nigeria, Cote d Ivoire and Sao Tome & Principe in January 2015. The foundation is also in the process of finalising the distribution channels for cheap chess clocks which they hope to be able to start to distribute from the first quarter of 2015.

Academic Study Grants

In December, the KCF Africa Board unanimously voted to continue with the awarding of academic study grants to specially deserving members of the African chess community. They received a number of applications from across the continent.

After careful consideration of all the applications received, the Board authorised the award of three study grants for the 2015 Academic Year. The recipients for 2015 are George Githui who was nominated by Chess Kenya, Liteboho Mohatlane who was nominated by the Lesotho Chess Federation and Igirimbabazi Hyacinthe who was nominated by the Rwandan Chess Federation. George and Liteboho were awarded grants of USD 1000 for 2015 whilst Igirimbabazi will receive a grant of USD 500.

Short extracts from each of the winning applications are provided below. We wish to congratulate all three recipients and we wish them the best of luck with their studies in 2015.

George is a student at the University of Nairobi who is described as having single-handedly elevating the levels of chess arbitration in Kenya in the face of heavy challenges. He started playing chess whilst in high school before becoming the patron/coach of St. Mary’s Chess club whilst working at the school after completing his secondary education. He currently captains the University of Nairobi Chess Club and recently acquired his FIDE Arbiter title (becoming only the second Kenyan to achieve this). He plans to use the grant to continue his studies towards his goal of qualifying for a BSc Degree in Computer Science.

Liteboho started playing chess when he got to high school in 2008 and quickly established himself as one of the best players at his school. In 2009 he came second in Lesotho’s National Championships before going on to win the national championship and maintain the title until 2013. He played on board 2 for Lesotho at the recently completed chess Olympiad in Norway and will use the funds to continue with his Bachelor of Science (BSc) at the National University of Lesotho (NUL).

Igirimbabazi is a young scholar who is really passionate about the game of Chess. She started learning and playing in 2012 together with her siblings at the local chess club in Kigali. She is currently completing her secondary education at the College St Bernard, a school which is located in the Southern Province of Rwanda. The grant that she receives will enable her to continue her education in 2015 whilst also pursuing her love for chess.

MiniChess
The MiniChess program continues to be a massive success and KCF Africa was very pleased with the progress that was achieved during 2014. The MiniChess program is now running successfully in South Africa, Uganda and Lesotho and is delivered to more than 60,000 learners in over 150 schools across the continent. A 5 school pilot program in Rwanda will also finally commence in January 2015 now that a workable model has been agreed with the local educational authorities and school principals.

The level 1 MiniChess learner workbooks and teacher guides have now also been translated into French. The first French language program will commence in January 2015 with a ten school pilot program launches in Madagascar.

The MiniChess program remains central to KCF Africa plans to develop the game at a grass-roots level across the African continent and we hope to see new programs launching in many African countries during the course of 2015. A total of 10 African chess federations are scheduled to receive MiniChess training in January 2015 and KCF Africa are confident that this will soon translate into new programs on the ground in most of these countries!

Another very exciting development was the launch of the “Kasparov-MiniChess” mobile game! This incredible application allows young learners to join Cheddar the mouse on his adventures and offers over 80 different and exciting mini games to play. The mobile game “Kasparov-MiniChess” was developed in conjunction with HeroCraft which is one of the leading developers of educational mobile games in the world. It has been available for download via Google Play since the 6th December (see https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.herocraft.game.full.minichess) and will launch on the AppStore in early 2015.

2015 Tournament Calendar and Next Steps
KCF Africa plans for 2015 are extremely ambitious and they intend to publish their formal tournament calendar in the second week of January as soon as all planned events have been validated in conjunction with the proposed host federations. At present, the expectation is that KCF Africa will sponsor in excess of 25 FIDE Rated events across the continent during the course of the 2015 calendar year. They will continue to support the many events that have already been established whilst also working with many new federations to create opportunities for their players as well.

KCF Africa will also continue to actively promote the MiniChess program in 2015 and they are excited by the planned launch of the new programs in both Madagascar and Rwanda in January 2015. Their target however is to see MiniChess launched in at least six additional African countries during the course of the 2015 calendar year. They also hope to see the program grow to a point where it reaches more than 100,000 learners across the continent by the end of 2015.

On the equipment front the have already ordered a total of 6,000 chess boards and sets which will be distributed to a number of African federations in January 2015. This shipment will help them to formally test their distribution channels and they will then work actively with the national federations to bring down the cost of procuring chess equipment moving forward. Boards, sets, clocks, and demonstration boards are all critical to the development of the game and they believe they can make a big impact by making these simple tools more affordable for all African based players.

They realise that the task ahead remains enormous and they will continue to work for the benefit of chess across the continent throughout the course of 2015.
Please visit the official KCF Africa website at www.kcfafrica.com or contact their via email at info@kcfafrica.com should you want any information on any of their activities or if you be in a position to help in any way during the course of the 2015 calendar year. We also always welcome feedback which can be emailed to us or communicated via our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/KCFAfrica?ref=hl

Below are their contact details:
Graham Jurgensen
Executive Director
Kasparov Chess Foundation Africa
info@kcfafrica.com
www.kcfafrica.com
www.facebook.com/KCFAfrica

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