Nigeria announces Olympiad Qualifiers


The Nigerian Chess Federation has announced a series of qualifying tournaments to select the 2008 Olympiad team. After a lengthy transcontinental discussion, officials within the Nigerian Disapora have figured out a way to select the strongest possible team. There will be separate competitions to select eight male players… two from Europe, two from the U.S. and four from Nigeria. The following are the contacts for these regional qualifying tournaments which are to take place in August.

Zone #1 (Europe): Bola Dada (

Zone #2 (U.S.): Contact Kunle Elegbede (

Zone #3 (Nigeria): Lekan Adeyemi (

Kunle Elegbede, the International Coordinator of the Nigeria Chess Federation, has played a key role is promoting chess development in the Nigerian Disapora. Based in Houston (USA), Elegbede has been instrumental in organizing tournaments and spearheaded this qualifying process. He organized the “Nigerian Clash” last year and runs a forum for Nigerian chess which should carry among other things, coverage from these qualifying events. Check the Nigerian Chess Forum for updates.


  1. Hopefully, things go as planned, and a solid team shows up in Dresden. It would be a success for collaborative effort. That said, the dates for these Olympiads are known years in advance. Is there some Nigerian decree or similar legislation preventing all these efforts from being carried out earlier in the 2-year cycle?

    On a somewhat related note, if a valid NCF rating system existed (which would of course depend on regular chess tournaments being played), the selection process would be a lot easier. Is it too difficult to make sure there is some sort of tournament once a month, or every 2 months? Regional chess leagues? These need not cost an arm and a leg. I played in three editions of the Lagos State chess league in the early 90’s, and the major expenditure to my teams were on bus fare and food. Benefits? I got to play against the best of the day, including Akintola, Owosina, Adu, and Aikhoje, where I otherwise might not have.

    These, and other issues need to be discussed, solutions found, and implemented. With all the communication methods available, such as this blog, there really is no excuse not to.

  2. This is a very good step forward,and indicates the beginnig of democratic selection process in Nigerian chess!
    Thanks to all those who has made this possible,especially MR.KUNLE ELEGBENDE,MR.ADEYEMI LEKAN,the chairman,Nigerian Chess Federation :ACP SANI MOHAMMED and so on…
    Special thanks to Daaim Shabazz for his interest in Nigerian chess,and for promoting this event!

  3. I don’t mean to nit pick at the piece, but the word is Diaspora, not “Disaspora”. And I would like to suggest that the term Diaspora be reserved for Africa, as in the “African Diaspora”. I took the liberty to make this point because I appreciate the efforts of this website to highlight the chess accomplishments of Africans in the Diaspora. I understand the intent to refer to Nigerians living in different parts of the world. I simply want to highlight a new ideological revolution that is underway, which promotes the awareness and connectivity of all Africans in the Diaspora. The various demarcations that were created by Eurpoean colonialists and slave traders e.g Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Cameroon etc etc must eventually be erased from the consciousness of all Africans in the Diaspora, which includes anyone of African ancestry, no matter where they reside, or what citizenship they are constrained by. I hope you catch my drift.

  4. Fabunmi,

    Nit-picking is OK and corrections are welcomed. This site has more than 6000 pages, so I’ll make typos. 🙂 In fact, I spelled it “Disapora” not “Disaspora.” I’m tranposing letters these days. There is a definition for Diaspora and it refers to those who belong to a particular ethnic group and have dispersed around the globe.

    Use of the term does not represent a new thinking… it’s been long-standing and I am certain that the Africans in the bowels of slaveships were thinking of the “Diaspora” before the word existed. The 1900 Pan-African Congress in London was one of the catalysts for Pan-African thinking and many thought leaders espoused this idea of bringing the Diaspora together. We are only going back to our roots… not creating something new.

    The Diaspora may have been borne when the first Africans migrated and ended up in places like Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Thailand, the Phillipines, New Zealand and Australia. I am still trying to find players of African descent in these places.

    Hey… if you’re going to correct the piece, make sure you correct your own misspellings. That’s only fair.

  5. Nice comments, James. However, the use of a term such as “Nigerian diaspora”, is useful, and in this case, necessary, for people to understand exactly who we are talking of. Also, restricting the use of the term “diaspora” to the adjective “African” contains the notion of homogeneity which unfortunately does not exist.

    One thing that should not be forgotten is that before the arrival of the Europeans, Africans were even more “demarcated”. For instance, in the later 19th century, I do not believe that the Oyo people considered themselves in unity with those in Abeokuta. This, in spite of both groups coming under the Yoruba “nation”. In fact, the idea of “Unity” among the Yoruba was forged primarily by the likes of Awolowo, well into the 20th century.

    Similarly, east of the Niger, there was no such things as an “Igbo nation”, just groups of people doing their own thing, who happened to speak dialects of the same language.

    My point is that though it is nice to blame the colonialists for artificially dividing African people, Africans did a good enough job of that on their own. It is not a bad idea to have all Africans think of themselves as Africans first, and then Nigerian vs Togolese vs African-American second, but that would be a very new ideology, and not a mindset native to the continent, at any time in its history. “Erasing the demarcations” the colonialists left behind, would only return most people to a tribal consciousness, which is what obtains in much of modern Africa anyway. More important than a nominal common identity, is a common sense of purpose.

    Ok, enough “OP” from me 🙂 Have a good weekend!

  6. Hello Daaim, sorry for misspelling your misspelt word 🙂 I would prefer to keep this forum focussed on chess, and not start an argument over what the African Diaspora is all about (although I may have done that already, sorry). So I won’t attempt to make any counter points to what others have said. The only issue I must address though is that while siblings may quarell among themselves, as in conflicts between Oyo and Abeokuta (Re: Okechukwu’s post), it is a totally different matter when an outsider comes and takes over your family’s compound (and then tells you which room you may or may not enter). That’s all I have to say on that. Those who have ears, let them hear.

  7. You misspelled “European” as well. 😉

    On a serious note, I agree with your analysis about colonialism, but the question of redrawing the borders, or not recognizing the existing ones is a recipe for chaos. I remember having this discussion in a Ph.D. class titled “International Relations of African States” and one of the many issues that came up was a possible unifiying theme… a common language.

    Perhaps there is something to be said about relying on colonial languages in African deliberations. This actually happened in an OAU assembly in the 60s when the body argued over which colonial language was the most impartial. So they got “impartial” European interpreters. 😐 We also know very well the paradox of the countries you named and how cousins live on opposite sides of these borders.

    Our ancestors from E.W. Blyden and Sylvester Williams to Marcus Garvey and Kwame Nkrumah all had interesting perspectives on uniting the Diaspora whether continental or transcontinental. We must draw on these lessons (and the mistakes) once again. Pan-Africanism is the ideology, but how do we create a viable platform to unite a people of various backgrounds?

  8. OK, you got me on the European typo! Regarding the issue of repairing the damage done to the psyche of African peoples by Slavery and Colonialism, it all starts in the mind…. the way we think, the words we use, and the relationships that we develop among ourselves…..we currently live in a world order that is more or less defined by European concepts …. of statehood, of economies, of morality, religion etc etc. And all within the span of less than 200 years, the earth that has existed for thousands of years, is nearing the brink of self destruction… intelligent is this civilization anyway? The push for Africans to recover their lost history and civilization is not simply a matter of redressing the brutality and oppression that they have experienced in recent history, it is also a matter of (re)activating the native African genius that has managed this planet for millenia before now….. Those Africans who think they have found civilization under the Europeans, should take the time to study the history of their own peoples, which predate any other civilization on this planet…..anyway, I don’t want to get started….. sorry for creating an argument on your website.

  9. I don’t think anyone would argue with you “civilizations.” Not because they don’t want to engage you, but because they want to discuss Nigeria’s Olympiad team here. You see Fabunmi, when we are not saving the world in our respective fields, we take off our capes, come out of the phone booth and try to play some chess! :mrgreen:

    Really… we do need to have this discussion on another level… especially if chess is in the center of reclaiming the “African Genius” that many authors have written about.

  10. The Nigeria Chess Olympiad Trials that is taking place in at least 3 continents is very good, in the sense that the best will be gotten especially in the male event. I just hope the Nigeria Chess Federation has the FUNDS to make this whole process worthwhile. Because record shows that after every Olympics Nigeria does not participate in the Chess Olympiad, eg, 1996, 2000, 2004. In 2004, only 3 people represent Nigeria at the Chess Olympiad and they were self sponsored.
    I hope for the best.

  11. i need a bookshop perhaps in nigeria where i can buy good books on chess.

    i also need the calander for important chess tournaments in nigeria


  12. I am excited about all the possibilities we get from the internet to keep up with chess events and would like to thank D. Shabazz for this excellent website.
    Your site is a great asset to Chess!

  13. Thanks Kenneth!

    There’s more to be excited about. The trials in Nigeria have started; dates have been set in the U.S.; final negotiations are taking place in Europe. Nigeria needs to take its rightful place as the leader of West African chess and a pre-eminent power, not only in Sub-Saharan Africa, but in the whole of Africa.

  14. Here is a quick update for you on the Nigeria Chess Federation Olympiad trials:

    Zone 1: Europe
    The chess players and the arbiters in this zone are going to be meeting sometime next week to decide the final selection process and the game format, etc. There is an ongoing communication between the chess players in London, Germany and Spain as to the best way to do this. There is a lot going on here and its exciting. As soon as the final decision is reached, we shall communicate this to everyone.

    Zone 2: United States:
    By popular demand and taking into consideration that three of our chess player participants are Medical doctors (and they happen to be on call at the dates that we fixed), we have now shifted the dates for the trials to August, Friday 22nd- Sunday 25th , 2008 in Houston, Texas.

    Players will arrive on Friday 22nd of August, 2008.
    Friday night 22nd: first round,
    Play on Saturday : 2 or 3 rounds
    Play all day Sunday:2 or 3 rounds
    Players will travel back on Monday 25th.

    We are still discussing if its going to be (1, 2, 2 ) , ( 1, 3 , 2) or (1, 3, 3) but the date has been fixed.
    Chess players in this zone can go ahead and book their flights and the final hotel accommodation arrangements will be communicated to them by the end of the week.

    Zone 3. Nigeria
    23 Male chess players and 19 female chess players began the first round of the trials yesterday, July 24 , 2008 at the Swan Secretariat of the Sports Association of Nigeria, in Lagos. Its going to be a 7 round Swiss.

    Thursday 24th: They played 2 games.
    Friday 25th: 2 games – On going.
    Saturday 26th: 2 games
    Sunday 27th: 1 game

    As soon as we have pictures of the event, we will post them on the NCPF and the Chess Drum . The second part of this trial will take place around August 13- 17, 2008 or thereafter, depending on the decision of the officials on the ground in Nigeria.

    It is only by continuous chess activities that Nigeria Chess Players can win laurels for the nation

    Kunle Elegbede


  15. Has anyone discussed how they are going to get these groups down to five/ten players? How many from the U.S. will really go etc.?

  16. Hey Frank, How are you doing? Yes, we have done that.

    There will be 4 players from Zone 3 – Nigeria,
    2 players from Zone 1 – Europe and 2 players from Zone 2 – US.

    Out of these 8 players, the Olympiad team will be picked but in my view, you want to be among the first 2 positions in zone 3 (Nigeria) and the first position in zones 2 (Europe) and 3 (US) because those positions will weigh heavily on the mind of the Nigerian chess officials who will make the final selection out of the final 8. At the same time, you never know the problem that an individual player will have prior to the Olympiad. We will have enough proven substitute players out of the 8 who will be ready to replace any player who has an unforeseeable difficult.

    From experience, visa issuance is not a guarantee for an Olympiad team member even though we will fight for any team member to obtain their visas. Before the 2006 Olympiad, 4 members of the Nigerian delegation were refused visas to Italy. We are therefore guarding against these possibilities by having more than enough qualified players ready to participate at the Olympiad.

    Kay Elegbede

  17. Excellent question Frank. I asked the same question when this format was proposed. I understood that the remaining eight players would play some type of a playoff for the five spots, but the only way I see this happening is on the Internet. Now I understand (from Kunle’s post) that they will be picked by a committee. I thought the point of the tri-continental playoffs was to avoid handpicking the team, but we have arrived at the same point.

    I do understand the visa issue though… that’s a real dilemma.

  18. Daaim, this is the best way to do this for now. As you know, it has not been easy to arrive here. Think of the alternative which is just hand picking players without a trial of any sort. Many chess players will feel cheated . If you then select six straight players through a trial and then the visa problem occurs without having substitute players to step in immediately, then we have to resort to hand picking players again to take their place. By selecting 8 players now and then giving your top qualifies in all the regions the edge in the final analysis, is a far better process in my view. This will take care of the selection process and the loose ends all at the same time. It is by far a better process than what we have always had and it is still an evolving one. There is always room for improvement of this process. I think its going to work out fine and we are excited about this process.

    Kunle E.

  19. Kunle Elegbede has compiled a beautiful set of photographs on the Nigerian Chess Players blog. The photos represent vintage moments in Nigerian chess history. I was honored by being included! I’m holding the cake made that was presented to me by Kay Umeakunne. Best cake I ever had in my life!! 🙂 Pictures with recognizable Grandmasters are included as well.

    Below are a few, but if you want to see the full set, go to the blog… you’ll enjoy them!!

    Nigerian Blitz!

    Nigerian Chess Assembly

    Sylvia Chidi and Rosemary Amadasun

    Kunle Elegbede, Nigerian Chess Players Forum

    See the photo collection here!

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