The Rise of Zambia’s Andrew Kayonde #Chess

The Chess Zealot wrote a article about one of the Zambia’s strongest players Andrew Kayonde.

No doubt now an African ‘darling’, meet Zambia’s sensational wonder boy, International Master Andrew Kayonde. Born in 1988,the 28 year old’s chess journey is not only a marvel but a brainwave. His continued rise on the chess scene has in fact left many wondering when he will ever reach his pinnacle. Local chess historians have literally failed to understand and interpret how Andrew who is now mostly referred to as AK 47 in his native Zambian country does not seem to attain nadir in a country like Zambia with abundant talent and new chess names that mushroom on almost a monthly basis!

In a country where others argue that no one can be consistent for a long time, AK 47 has defiled all odds and easily parred strong opposition to currently establish himself as the ‘wamuyayaya’ (everlasting) of Zambian chess and looks poised and determined to extend that status on a continental level. Having won countless medals in his secondary school days, AK 47 made history in 2016 February by shocking the entire Southern Africa region when he became the first Zambian ever to win the National Chess Championships a consecutive three times.

Despite his astonishing performance and international acclaim,Andrew has only been to 9 other countries in his whole entire chess career; 7 African ones; 1 Asian and 1 European! In fact many that have followed the young man’s journey will vividly recall and posit that Andrew’s official or rather international chess career started in 2010 at the Russian Olympiads where Andrew helped his country to one of its brightest and shinning performances at the Olympiads!

International Master (IM) Andrew Kayonde
International Master (IM) Andrew Kayonde

After helping the 121 ranked country in the world to surprisingly emerge number 47,he was officially given a rating of 2155 by the world chess governing mother body,FIDE. And that was it,Sub Saharan Africa and Zambia in particular had shifted the world chess attention from the Legendary Amon Simutowe and perspicuously proved that Africa had other talented black chess players.

A former Zambian National chess player who still commands a large following in the Zambian chess cycles,Kiddy Makwaya once mused about the soft spoken Andrew; “Describing him is not easy,but I would say,he is a young,talented and intelligent chess player who is also focussed and determined to achieve whatever he puts his mind on. He is the future of not only Zambian chess but African chess. I have seen him rise through the ranks of chess and I remember how I lost a game to him almost a decade ago during the Lusaka top 12 championship.However,what puzzled me was not the loss to the young man,but his modest character and yearning to learn more. Me and my friends were all surprised when Andrew came to me asking for advice on how he could become a chess giant! I offered the advice and the young man took it and within a few years,he was in the national team. Mark my words,that boy will become a Grandmaster one day,its not a question of if but when”.

Others also share Kiddy’s sentiments and argue that Andrew possess natural intelligence. And who would argue with them considering that AK 47 completed his secondary school at one of the best schools in the country where the country’s best intelligent minds go to! Not only that,Andrew has also managed to excel both in chess and other areas of life such as academics and work; a rare feat for most top players! He holds an MBA at the prestigious Heriot Watt University and is one of the first chartered accountants in Zambia to complete the ZICA professional qualifications.

A Business Analyst with one of the country’s biggest banks,Finance Bank, Andrew was the best in the 2012 Finance Bank’s Management Development Program and more recently in May 2016 he was part of the team that was awarded for inventing the best Business innovation at the Banker’s Annual Awards. A disciplined, solid and smart player, Andrew’s is one of the leading Zambian chess player that has been covered by mainstream media for quite some time now in a country where chess continues to be a minor sport. However, the talented Zambian player became one of the most covered chess players on the continental level when he performed ‘miracles’ at the 2016 edition of the African Individual in Uganda! His bashing of two strong Egyptian GMs and drawing with another, who were clearly favourites to win the championships will forever be emblazoned on the hearts of many chess players across the globe!

Missing the GM title by half a point,Andrew made history by becoming the first Zambian to finish on position second at the African Individual Chess Championships. Praises came from all over the African continent especially in Sub Saharan Africa that almost had its third GM. Now among the top ten in Africa,highest rated not only in Zambia but in the whole of Southern Africa (2422), Andrew has the focus like that of an eagle which is never distracted and gets what it wants.

He is also one of the few chess players that accredit his success on and off the board to God Almighty. We at Chess Zealot Magazines thus officially congratulate AK 47 (‘The GM Killer’)for his splendid performance at the 2016 AICC and wish him well in his future chess endeavours.

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