By Prince Daniel Mulenga
I dont know how this will sound but its true, I have ZERO talent in the game of Chess and its quite emotional to realise! All I have ever achieved in this game has been purely out of sheer Passion for the game, determination, hardwork and perseverance to reach great heights!
I remember I learnt how to play Chess at a very old age, around 13 years. I remember the first chess literature I came across was the British Chess Magazine which covered the games of GM Kramnik-GM Leko Peter 2004 World Championship Match. It was clear from those I used to compete with in my neighbourhood, Chambishi Township, Alfred, Godwin, Rabbyson, Brian, Shadrick, Steve, Yona, Mathews, Mukupa, etc that I was improving at a very fast pace even with the lack of talent in this game!
I remember a few years down the line, I went on to win National Schools Chess Championship with 6 out of 7 points which qualified me to participate in Africa Junior Chess Championship which was held in Cairo Egypt but sadly there were no funds from the federation for me to travel!
The following year, I won National Junior trials held at Fatmols lodge in Ndola with an unbeaten score of 8.5 out of 9 points! I once more qualified to play another African Junior which was supposed to be held in Tripoli Libya but due to the Northern Africa Uprising Regime change campaign, the event was changed to East London South-Africa. Sadly I was told a day before departure that they could not find money for our Air tickets( Prince and Lorita) but that only two for National Schools Champions (Douglas and Epah) were found! It was very painful. A boy with no talent in the game who worked his way up just by sheer hardwork could not be given a chance to play at Internatioal events!
In 2013, I was Copperbelt Univesity Chess Champion and by 2014, I was amonst the strongest Chess Players for Higher Education students! I was part of Student National Chess Team which participated in 2014 edition of Confederation of Universities, Colleges, Sports Association in Southern Africa (CUCSA) where I helped team Zambia win Silver medal for Team event and Gold medal for Individual board brilliance! All this without a single talent!
During the same year, I participated in my first ever International Open, Zambia Open 2014 where I finished ahead of National Team Players such as Kayonde Andrew, Chumfwa Kelvin, Jere Daniel, Phiri Richmond and Fide for the first time awared me an initial rating of 2186!
At the start of 2015, I barely missed by half a point to enter the prestigious National team when I finished with 5 out of 9 points! In the last round of that Final Phase, I had Black against International Master (IM) Mwali and all he needed to do was easily draw against a weak me and retain his spot in the National team as the 5th player because all the top 4 (Kayonde, Jere, Chumfwa K, Phiri) had been filled and our game was a decider, Mwali had 5/8 and I had 4.5/8 and we were there playing the decider and I was in a must-win situation! Mr Nsakanya who was watching the game closely saw how many draw offers I turned down from the IM just so that I beat him and secure my place in the team also! And by the way I played the Dutch against his 1.c4! I gave it all, I played my lungs out, threw all the tactics in my database, rejected deliberate three fold repeatitions but still the IM held his own till he finally found a perpetual! I may have failed to enter National team but one thing am sure of is that Mr Nsakanya was proud of me and my incredible fighting spirit against one of Zambia’s Best! All this was done without a single talent in me!
In the same year I set out to play in my first International Open away from home when i participated in Zimbabwe Easter Open Prestige Section where I came 4th from a very strong field finishing with 6/9! Suprisingly, my Son was born on 4th
April( 4/4) 2015 which was during the Easter and I happened to finish 4th also during an Easter Event!
In the second part of the same year, I once more set out to play my second International Open, Botswana Open Prestige Section where I finished 5th position with yet another 6/9 in a very strong field! How can a boy with zero talent achieve this in a little space of time? Perhaps sheer determination is the only answer!
2016 was one of my best Chess years, I won the Copperbelt Championships back to back! Being 6 times Copperbelt Champion and on several occasions finishing ubeaten and with perfect scores of 6/6! I managed to enter TOP 10 in the country with my dominace in the Province but I did not stay in the Elite for long before I was displaced! In the second part of the year, I once more participated in 2016 edition of Botswana Open Prestige Section where I had a podium finish just like in 2015 and cemented my position as a strong player just and not by sheer luck as it would have been thought earlier!
So we are now here in 2017! I am done with Classical competitions for the year and the boy with Zero Talent has had a successful year! Crossing 2200+ for the first time, entering TOP 10 once more and winning a Strong Open(Boot Camp Open) in the country with IMs in it. I also got my Mastery(Candidate Master) in Chess during my first ever Zonals( Southern African Championships) which were one of the strongest ever! Many did not believe in and thought that the expenses for playing in the zonals ($700) could have been channelled else where. But i proved them wrong and got my Mastery with Zero talent!
It is very emotional ladies and gentlemen, I wish I was as talented as GM Amon Simutowe, I could do more but with zero talent, I can only improve at a slow pace. When you see me thank the lord(AMDG) for the little achievements I have, I mean it, I have come a long way ladies and gentlemen and to understand I have achieved all this with zero talent but through constant hardwork,passion, determination and perseverance, its very emotional to be honest, many a time I even cry about it!
To see how far I have come with little or no family support, no coach, no ideal training materials, limited events to play in, its very very emotional! This is my story ladies and gentlemen, a story depicting how a boy with zero talent for Chess from an unknown township managed to climb the ranks in his country and establish himself as one of the ELITES! Thank you for reading!
Mulenga Prince Daniel