MSENGEZI High School of Chegutu wrote their own piece of history when they became the inaugural winners of the Best High Schools International Chess Championships in Pretoria, South Africa, over the weekend.
The Zimbabweans scooped nine gold medals and a trophy to win the event which attracted the best high school chess teams from Zambia, Botswana and hosts South Africa. Elisha Chimbamu was the overall winner from board two and stole the limelight from teammates Phenias Sagonda, Donald Mashanda, Rodwell Makoto, Yvonne Machiridza, Tafadzwa Mhizha and Thomas Boka.
Joseph Moyo, the teacher in charge of chess at Msengezi High School, said he was very pleased with his team's feat and commended their overall performance. Moyo also thanked the Member of Parliament for Chegutu, Webster Shamu, for assisting in the development of chess at the school.
Msengezi, the reigning Zimbabwe high schools chess champions, beat South Africa by half a point in winning the tournament in Pretoria while Zambia came third and Botswana fourth. Shamu, who is the chess patron for Mashonaland West, congratulated the team on their success and said their victory emphasised the need for the country to introduce chess at all levels in the schools curricula. "Chess should be recognised as a sport in all schools as it helps students achieve better results in mathematics and science. I greatly appreciate the aid from Chris Parvin, the chief executive officer of Meikles Africa for helping Msengezi to travel to South Africa," said Shamu.
Tarcusius Madamombe, the former headmaster of Msengezi High School, however, expressed his disappointment over the Ministry of Education, Sport and Culture's failure to give the team enough support.
Meanwhile, the youngest player at the tournament in Pretoria, 12-year-old Leah Phiri of Zambia said she learnt a lot from playing against good players from other countries.
Posted by The Chess Drum: 17 September 2002