African Championships start today!

All the top players from the continent of Africa will assemble for the 2009 African Championships in Tripoli, Libya today. The Championships will run through the 31st and will serve as the qualifier to the World Cup knockout tournament to be held in Russia later this year.

GM Amon Simutowe, who just won the South African Open, will try for redemption of missing the cut in last year’s championship. There was a bit of uneasiness among some of the players who lack sponsorship and were hoping that there would be conditions to ease the hardship.

Top players looking to make the cut are: GMs Ahmed Adly (EGY), Bassem Amin (EGY), Amon Simutowe (ZAM), Essam El-Gindy (EGY) and Slim Belkhodja (ALG). GM Hichem Hamdouchi has changed his federation from Morocco to France and will not be eligible.

Nevertheless, it will be an exciting contest and several strong IMs will be threatening to break into the upper pack.

Drum Coverage:


  1. Two players from Nigeria who are in Libya for the event are IM Oladapo Adu and Abiye Williams.

  2. I could not travel to libya because I could not translate my passport into Arabic. The Embassy of Libya in Rwanda refused to translate the passport after I had presented all the relevant documents. I was told to go and do that in my country. The organisers of the event had told us that our visa were ready and would be issued at the point of entry in Tripoli and that we should go to the nearest libyan embassy to get our passport translated into Arabic, without that the person would be refused entry into the counrty. I was told that some players were refused entry because of their passports were not translated and sent back to their country. I had to cancel my flight because I did not want to encounter the same situation. It is so sad that after all the effort, one could not to take part in the African Individual championship.

  3. What? Refused Visa because the passport was not translated into Arabic? I have never heard of this before. Are you kidding me? Its important to definitely investigate this.

  4. I don’t remember Amon Simutowe telling me about this requirement. I have e-mailed him. I suppose they are trying to stop counterfeit passports, but that seems to be an unreasonable requirement. I have traveled all over the world and my U.S. passport is in English and have never had to have it translated into another language.

  5. Hi Guys!
    I am blogging this with IM. Aderito Pedro and FM. Errickson of Angola sitting in a hotel in Johannesburg watching local TV while the Africa Individual has presumably started.

    Reason? They travelled on 18. July intending to arrive with days to spare. In fact it was at the airport where GM. Simutowe, also travelling, adviced them to rush a flight via Dubai that still had seats.

    They travelled together with Amon. Upon arrival in Tripoli, Lybia the two said Angolan players and one official where returned due to passport/Visa problems. I believe GM.Simutowe made it with no problem and IM.Kobese, who travelled the next day after the fiasco also made it through.

    I believe the main reason for their entry refusal may well be the language matter as they hardly speak proper English and certainly not Arabic.

    So, the second best player last time IM. Pedro (Ang) will not participate.

    I humbly ask. Why the Africa elected leader make life so difficult for players? After raising the money, is this the way to loose it?

  6. Jackie,

    This is a tragedy and I am working on a story to attract attention. It is a disgrace. The word I got in an e-mail from Amon Simutowe was that all passports needed to be translated into Arabic and attached to the passport.

    The Angolan players’ visas were approved and to be issued upon arrival in Tripoli, but they were denied entry because their passports were not translated. As you can see, it also happened to Abiye Williams of Nigeria.

    Amon had apparently had the service done and made it through. He waited for Pedro Aderito and Erikson Soares to exit but got word that they were sent back. They were to fly back to Dubai and then fly back to Tripoli, but apparently they never made the trip and ended up back in Joburg. Shame.

  7. Upon further investigation, each player who received an invitation were instructed to have the translation done. The document states:

    Players or officials needing visas are requested to contact the Libyan chess federation and to send passport photo copy before 1st July 2009. The Organizing Committee will provide invitations letters for visa formalities.

    According to the Libyan law each non Arabic passport are requested to stamp Arabic translation to the passport “just contact the Libyan embassy in your region and they will advice the way of translation and it could be made by the Libyan embassy too.

    I’m not sure how the players allowed this detail to be missed, but I posted the invitation on the blog on May 28th and the players must have received the invitations well in advance.

    It appeared they had no recourse unless they applied for a visa in Dubai, got the translation done and then flied back to Tripoli. I’m sure the expense would have been prohibitive and perhaps would have required an overnight stay. Of course, Dubai is not cheap.

    In the final analysis, I’m not sure we can place the full blame on Libya here. The regulations were plainly stated.

  8. Just got update that the defending champion Gwaze could not get a visa too ( no zimbabweans as well )so how many people are playing this tourmanent now ? may be 4 to 5 hihi Who ever wins will be half a Champion hehe
    Thats my opinion

  9. We have to examine why they are not getting visas. If they were negligent then one cannot blame Libya. If it is an issue of discrimination then that is another matter.

    What were the conditions surrounding Gwaze’s denial? Did he meet all the deadlines? Was his passport translated?

  10. Whats new here?nothing!! The usual stuff. You can predict all this coming as soon as the tournament is announced.Some things never change.

  11. The version i got from one of the zims guys described it as near impossible to get a visa from the embassy or its possible they did not read the conditions for the visa as you mentioned above this part
    Players or officials needing visas are requested to contact the Libyan chess federation and to send passport photo copy before 1st July 2009. The Organizing Committee will provide invitations letters for visa formalities.

    According to the Libyan law each non Arabic passport are requested to stamp Arabic translation to the passport “just contact the Libyan embassy in your region and they will advice the way of translation and it could be made by the Libyan embassy too.

    One thing for sure the truth will come out

  12. My NO visa list Reasons
    1.Financial Problems: Prove that you can afford to take care of travel and boarding expenses etc .It was one big thing that also resulted in NO VISA Dresden Germany Olympiad
    Players or officials needing visas are requested to contact the Libyan chess federation and to send passport photo copy before 1st July 2009. The Organizing Committee will provide invitations letters for visa formalities.

    According to the Libyan law each non Arabic passport are requested to stamp Arabic translation to the passport “just contact the Libyan embassy in your region and they will advice the way of translation and it could be made by the Libyan embassy too.

  13. VISA? What’s NEW!
    One thing crystal clear coming out of this visa brouhaha is that the African chess union and the Africa representative in FIDE are letting AFRICA (time and time again) down. Hopefully the future will prove that there is a better day to come! Talk about an African nightmare!!!!!!
    There simply seem to be no communication between themselves. Plus there is no relations between themselves and the Federations. Period.
    I am in a vintage position to intimate that players like GM. Simutowe had to pull all stumps at a personal level to be in Tripoli. Furthermore, I am familiar with traveling to this country as I sponsored and arranged for a ZIM junior to play the Africa junior there.
    So, it makes sense then that Mr. Buthali or and Mr. Ncube should have had lines of communication routinized around the event. This could have help anticipate the visa pitfall by communicating with or alerting federation officials to either clear the obstruction, while encouraging participation in the first instance. Clearly this did not happen! Or perhaps basic management/organising is damn beyond some peoples realm.
    I looked in the eyes of a bewildered chess player (IM.Pedro). I felt like crying as he explained his frustrations to me. He was very very sad I must tell you all. This realy makes me mad!!!
    Yes, Someone must take the blame and I strongly believe the two said African chess leaders must accept responsibility for this nonsense. OTHERWISE why sit in high-level FIDE meetings when it is not on behalf of progress for Africa. Here is an example of good chess governance: The Turkish chess federation President who happens to be a friend of mine told me he treats the job no less than a service to the entire nation. he works damn hard for the country and the results are there for all to see. In Africa, can someone tell me who has done any ordinary act in the interst of players? That is why I do not buy the awards some governments in Africa bestow upon FIDE. That’s disgusting I say. Given this Libya quagmire, that reported award apearsto be a shame and a hoodwink!
    As far as FIDE is concerned, AFRICA matters only to influence elections. For that the reward is incompetent environment. After all a strong GM like Amon Simutowe is a Mistake!!! In fact “He must consider changing Federations”, {OooooPs! I wasn’t suppose to tell that was what a FIDE official adviced (:-((}

  14. Yes… I heard the advice of changing federations in Simutowe’s case. That is short-sighted to say the least and would not benefit him one bit.

    I attended the sessions in Dresden and there were a lot of questions being asked about the visa issues, but in this case the rationale was a bit different since Neil Freeman placed the full blame on the African federations.

    In the Libya case, both Dabalani Buthali and Lewis Ncube must play a role in these discussions and it would be quite interesting to see what they have to say.

    Simutowe was in constant contact with both of them and was voicing his displeasure with the proceedings.

  15. Same old guys playin the same old game huh? The European Assizes ! haha yall funny. Tick Tick Tick!!!

  16. I must respectfully disagree. What’s wrong with changing federation? Amon can always go back to his federation. Some time a short term goal is necessary to accomplish a longer term goal. If it help African Chess and Amon in the short term, why not? Also, a number of GM have change federation to promote chess. Why should Amon think differently. Amon, if changing federations would help you in the the short term, please do so. Daaim, could you please include spell check and grammar on your “Leave a Reply” This would help me and others.

  17. Glenn,

    I don’t believe Amon is supportive of the idea, but the fact that someone would offer this as a sponsorship solution is strange. It would be a travesty and sponsorship would still be an issue. I can’t imagine a federation that would provide him with the conditions he needs to raise his level. If he wanted to move to Europe, he can do that without changing his federation. What federation would he switch to anyway? The U.S.?

    U.S. Champion Hikaru Nakamura can’t even get sponsorship in the U.S. and while it was rumoured that he was changing federations (to Canada or Japan), he has decided against it. He has told me this himself. It would be hard to get for an African to get sponsorship in a foreign country when there are so many other aspiring GMs in those countries. He could probably work as a trainer as IM Robert Gwaze did (in Singapore), but I didn’t see where this helped Gwaze expand his opportunities. Can you imagine seeing Amon play for Singapore or the United Arab Emirates instead of Zambia?

    There was a rumour that Sergey Karjakin was going to change federation… from Ukraine to Russia. He squelched those rumours the other day by saying that he is moving to Russia to be closer to his trainer, but that he “loves his motherland” and will not change his nationality. I didn’t see the benefit of it. He stands a better chance of excelling in the Ukraine than Russia.

    As for other GMs, many of them change federations for a better place to raise their families and access to social liberties. Look at the U.S. There are a lot of Russian immigrants, but they don’t come here to earn a living playing chess because there is very little money in this. You can open a training school, but then it may hinder aspirations as a player.

    I remember Jerry Bibuld advising Maurice Ashley to switch federations to get his IM title. He suggested playing for Jamaica and playing in the Olympiad and the zonal tournaments to get the title in a “one-shot” deal where you score 66%. Of course, Maurice was born in Jamaica, so that is plausible. However, he wanted to do it through the rigorous three-norm system. I remember writing Maurice a letter in response to him asking me my opinion. He ultimately chose to earn his IM and GM titles in the U.S.

    I believe that the “Zambezi Shark” is a role model for Africa and the entire Diaspora and it is unlike many of the other immigrants you’re referring to. How many Amon Simutowes has this world produced… just one. He is a marvel and an example that a player with minimal resources, no trainer and hard work can succeed in Africa. Of course, we don’t want to see other players struggle like Amon, but at least he will be an example that success can be achieved in chess.

  18. Glenn,

    I will work on the editing tools for the blog. In the meantime, download the Google toolbar for spellcheck… it’s very convenient. You can use it for all of your Internet activities.

  19. hi Daaim
    I was looking for info/photos about this tournament, without any success, even emailed Brian (CHESSA) too this morning, as I’ve thought that there should be at least some sort of contact with the Saffa-players in Tripoli. I could only find the female-players’ info/names etc. Wonder if you have any info on the men? I’ve done a blog-entry this morning as Melissa and Anzel are playing, but want to blog the men too…I look forward to seeing some pics! and the passport-issues are a disgrace!

  20. I have not seen any coverage of the men and I’m really flummoxed as to why there is no coverage. The only link I have is the one that has been posted several times on this blog from

  21. I have put in a message to Simutowe to find someone to relay me the results in the Open Section. Nizar said the Internet has problems. I suggested that he find someone to send me the results.

  22. Ah nevermind.

    I was so excited that I saw results of women’s and men’s section. But it’s just results for women’s section (which we already know) .

    Time to get away from the computer because I’m already seeing things that aren’t there 😛

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