Simutowe withdraws from All-Africa Games!

A recent article from the Zambian Daily Mail states that International Master Amon Simutowe has withdrawn his participation from the 2007 All-Africa Games due to disagreement on conditions with the Chess Federation of Zambia (CFZ).

“I regret I will not participate in the All-Africa Games. I had requested my travel arrangements to be arranged by 18th June because I will not have time to take part in the visa process and other travel arrangements as I will be taking part in the World Open Championship. I got a response two days later than requested and it only addressed some of my concerns.”

Amon Simutowe has set a schedule of events in quest of the GM title and stated that he needed to have travel confirmation. He also asked for a stipend. The article reports another concern stating that Simutowe was promised prize money for winning medals in the 2003 All-Africa Games. These prizes were never awarded. When Simutowe asked about the prize contingency in the 2007 All Africa Games, he claims his question was not answered.

Two months ago, the Zambian Post and Daily Mail ran stories about another dispute over the lack of support for Simutowe’s GM quest. The issue became acute when mutal accusations were thrown back and forth (see Drum Brief). Reading these stories can make one despondent about Africa’s chess future. Where will it end??

Read Stephen Phiri’s article here!


  1. Let’s hope Simutowe can play well in his scheduled tournaments. He is making a tremendous sacrifice and is now on chess full-time to get the last norm. His title will mean so much to Zambia, the continent of Africa and Black people around the world. It’s huge! He will be playing at the World Open this week.

  2. I think the significance of Amon achieving GM is important, just like it was important for women to do it! The thing for me is that the achievement will show that it can be done by individuals of African decent, just like it’s been done by the Europeans, Asians, and South Americans! Once people (especially the youthful ones of us!) see the successes of Aman, Pontius, and Maurice, then I believe things will begin to happen sorta like a dominoe effect! I think also that it’s important to realize that changing the attitudes of prejudiced and otherwise racist people, should not be the goal… we don’t need to prove anything to them! Soon, it will be normal to see GM’s from Africa, and the many places where the diaspora live!

  3. EJT,

    Speaking on that issue… many of you remember the piece I did on the white supremacist site discussing Black chess. Some of the members on the site were joking around saying that a Black person lacks the intelligence to become a chess Grandmaster. Someone on the site did some checking and found a story I did on Maurice Ashley. The conversation and jokes ended immediately.

    Recently I saw an entry on the “Underbelly” blog under “Poker, Chess and IQ” by a non-chess player. A questionable comment was made about Blacks playing at the coffee shop look like they learned chess in jail. There was also the assumption that there was not yet a Black Grandmaster. As excerpt of the comment was,

    I don’t play either chess or poker, but I do spend a lot of time reading in coffee shops near university campuses, so I’ve had a chance to observe a fair amount of chess. I offer two thoughts:

    A lot of these guys look to me like they learned their skills in the joint. Which would stand to reason: low opportunity cost on their time.

    A lot of the really good ones are black. Which may or may not stand to reason but it probably violates a common perception. I’m just waiting for the first black grandmaster, so I can watch Charles Murray explain him away (link).

    Fn: Wait a minute! Here he is (link)! So much for common perception. And here is an interesting post on the general topic of prejudice against blacks in chess (link).

    Certainly, Maurice has been a GM since what… 1999? Maurice told me some time ago (in an e-mail) that people are still contacting him to do interviews on his story. We have to do a better job of dispelling these notions that only one African-American can play chess. That’s what I have been trying to do for six years, but have not targeted the general public yet.

    Amon Simutowe’s GM quest is not to be taken lightly. It will do a number of things for Africa, but it will also show the chess world that along with Asia’s rise, Africa (and her descendants) will one day dot the tournament with a slate of GMs. It will be a credit to the chess community.

  4. I hope that International Master, Amon Simutowe, does not fall into the gambit set by the cultural imperialists in Amerikkka. Thus playing in the 2007 World Open becomes more important than participating in the All – African games. It serves the universities here to bring African intellectuals into the western cultural tradition, usually with lure of the almighty dollar. This has been very successful with migration of Grandmasters from the former USSR and Eastern Europe to Amerikkka. Thus, they become avatars espousing grand theories of economics, politics, philosophy, etc. developed in the West. A strategy that substitutes for the use of force in societies with democratic forms by the intellectual community and the media. However, they do not realise that those theories are not applicable outside the culture in which they were created.

  5. Well African Chess is being killed slowly and it is not being taken seriously by both the governments and the sponsors.Sooner or later it will just become another used to be kind of thing.Save this sport from the gallows.Females are being stepped on and the few who travel are being playful.Very sad development this is.

  6. Amon is surely the best prospect for Sub-Saharan Africa and therefore his efforts towards earning his GM title should be supported. Participating in international events, especially outside the continent is the only way that the so much needed GM title for the continent could be achieved.

    With regard to the withdrawal from the AAG, this was really sad. Indeed balancing patriotism with personal achievement is not always easy. There is surely no better honour than flying your national flag. However, as a professional chess player, there is also need to partake in a venture that will put food on the table. Some compromise was therefore necessary between Chess Federation of Zambia and Amon to ensure participation at the AAG.

    As a continent, there is need to identify and nurture more talent to ensure that Africa takes its proper place in the chess arena. Although our major focus at the moment is building technical capacity (trainers/coaches and arbiters), expanding the base of rated players, the next priority area is identifying talent. In Botswana, we currently have an elite athletes programme which is working well. This model could be explored in the rest of the continent. A major challenge would of course be the financial status of African Chess Union.

  7. It seems like the few talented players to reach the world-class stage have been allowed to stagnate. Watu Kobese has languished despite being recognized as the first world-class talent from Sub-Saharan Africa. Simutowe is regarded by some as perhaps the most talented player to ever come from Sub-Saharan African region. I believe special resources should be used to nurture them. Both have represented Africa in the World Championship cycle multiple times.

    In interviews with both parties during the FIDE election last year, I asked about a training programme to develop talent within Africa and here is what was said:

    Kirsan Ilyumzhinov: It’s an interesting idea. But one needs a balance between a natural as opposed to a nurtured grandmaster. If there is a concrete proposal, FIDE might look at it.

    Well… there was a proposal by the Right Move party:

    Bessel Kok: The Right Move is offering, as part of its development program, 40 invitations per continent per annum to players covering board, accommodation and tournament expenses in Europe and the United States. The objective is to give players in developing nations a chance to get international experience and norms. These invitations will be discussed with Continental Presidents and allocated on a fair, rotating basis.

    I’m not sure what FIDE has done in the current administration, but I have seen that Liberia, Senegal, Ghana, the Gambia and Cameroon are trying to invigorate their chess communities. Some have contacted me directly. We need plan for the development of chess at the federation level and also for the development of individual talent. I’m sure Barbados’ Allan Herbert (Co-Chair of CACDEC) may want to shed light on this topic because it needs addressing. We will come to another Olympiad in Dresden, Germany and nothing will have improved for these countries since the last Olympiad in Turin, Italy.

  8. yury averbakh said if the usa and preumably any other country wanted to develop chess players, they should emulate thesoviet union’s white rook league, a national league with three boys and at least one girl on a team with regional competition. Of course this is a plan for when sponsors become available. We still should plan for the future even is like a combo it is shrounded in darkness at the end . (paraphrasing Kotov) 🙂


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