In the past 3 Zim opens the Zambian Chess Players have heavily dominated the Zimbabwean Chess Open. However, South African-based Rodwell Makoto reckons the time for change has come. He is fully backing the locals to re-establish themselves in their top chess event, the most anticipated one on the local chess calendar. The 2014 Zimbabwe Open Chess Championship will run from Wednesday 31st December, 2014 going through into the new year to Sunday January 4, 2015 at Holiday Inn, Harare.
Makoto has been short on tournament practice since he took part at the Olympiad in Tromso where had an impressive 8 points out of 11. However, he feels is ready both physically and psychologically.
The Zambian Contingent is out in full force at the tournament. Their players include Ten (10) Zambians whose safe arrival in the capital city Harare was confirmed via one of the Zambian Chess Facebook books. The 10 players include the Nkwazi quadruple of International Master (IM) Gillian Bwalya, IM Kelvin Chumfwa (Defending Champion), Fide Master (FM) Richmond Phiri and Godwin Phiri. Others include IM Chitumbo Mwali, Kela Siame, Linus Katebe, Gift Bwalya, Micheal Kaoma and Eric Siyamuyuwa Gift Bwalya, Eric Siyamuyuwa and Micheal Kaoma are likely to play in section B with the big guys set for the Prestige section.
One thing that Zambian players have in their favour is a very vibrant chess league which ensures that they get regular practice. The chess league in Bulawayo is going strong but the same cannot be said for Harare.
To support Zimbabwe’s cause in the tournament Makoto will be joined by Zimbabwe National Chess Champion, Emerald Mushore, Candidate Master Dion James Moyo and national team players Spencer Masango, Lloyd Moyo, Castro Sibanda and Thabo Elisha.
Zimbabwe International Chess Open this year will have a FIDE Rated Prestige A Section where the 40 top chess players with international ratings above 2200 will battle it out for top honours.
Participants in the tournament are drawn from various countries including hosts Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Mozambique and Malawi. The tournament has a prize fund totalling $5,000. The winner of first place will take home $2 000.
Sponsors of the event include Kasparov Chess Foundation Africa and Holiday Inn Harare.