Bassem Amin is 2009 African Champ!

GM Bassem Amin
GM Bassem Amin

GM Bassem Amin has risen since winning the African Junior Championship back in 2004. He promptly added another Junior title in 2005. Since that time he has traveled the world competing in a number of tournaments and is approaching the 2600 barrier.

Going into the 2009 African Championship in Tripoli, Libya, there was a lot of discussion about Egypt’s strength. The question was not whether they would send players to qualify for the World Cup, but how many. GM Ahmed Adly had already qualified by becoming the World Junior Champion and Egypt was bringing a powerful delegation. With the three GMs in tow, the men would total ten players including the African Junior Champion, IM Kareim Wagieh and the defending African Women’s Champion, WGM Mona Khaled.

As the only undefeated player, Amin’s consistency gave him the momentum which he would not relinquish. The strategy of the Egyptians drawing each other and beating everyone was merely an illusion. Even in the earlier rounds games between Egyptians were played to a tense finish (i.e., Adly-AbdelRazik). In fact, Amin wreaked havoc on his compatriots by scoring 4½-½. His win over Ahmed Adly was unexpected given the standings, but Adly was playing with the comfort that he had already qualified.

IM Frhat Ali, GM Bassem Amin and GM Ahmed Adly face Costa Rica. Adly awaits GM Alejandro Ramirez. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

GM Bassem Amin (center) taking a glance at the 2008 Olympiad with teammates IM Frhat Ali and GM Ahmed Adly . Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

Amin has recently vaulted over Adly as the highest-rated player in Egypt and has been improving rapidly. What is important for Amin is that he has had a model like Adly to follow. The cohesion the Egyptians appear to will eventually produce the results we see coming from Asian federations like China, India and Vietnam. The only question left is whether Amin can continue to improve with the support of the Egyptian Chess Federation. It appears that he definitely has the talent.

Congratulations Bassem Amin!!


  1. No. I have barely had enough time to get this article up. That’s what I mean… details, details. This also happens when you don’t have a press corps writing reports.

    I’ll contact Libya.

  2. Congratulations to GM Amin and the rest of the qualifiers and indeed all the participants. Even with all the visa troubles that plagued this tournament from the start, things heated up to an exciting finish. My hope is that strong players from Africa will start preparing early for the next event (and I am not sure who the host country is going to be now – Daaim can you help publicize this early enough if you have the facts for immediate preparation of African chess players?)

    This African individual championship is a real opportunity to discover new talents out of Africa. I believe we have a lot of talents out there and it’s a matter of time before we start to produce more grandmasters out of Africa. I see a bright future here despite all the known problems with most of the African Chess Federations.

  3. To Dr. Amin Bassem : HAIL TO THE KING OF AFRICA!
    To all participants: WELL DONE CHESS MAESTROS!

  4. Thanks Kunle,

    I got the invitation in late May and I put it up shortly thereafter. I’m not sure when the official invitations went out, but federations need at least 3-5 months.

    Nevertheless we ought to be proud of our players. Egypt saw, came and conquered and remain “The King of Kings” in African chess.

    I have the games from Hassan Khaled and will provide a link shortly along with some selected games to play on the Java Board.

  5. Thanks Daaim.
    I was talking about the next African Championship. Who is hosting it and when is it? I meant if you have the info, can you help us publicize in now so the players can start preparing for it. But of course for the 2009 edition, you did a wonderful job, as always.

  6. Right… my point is that I will post the official information as soon as I get it. I’m not sure about the next venue. Seems like they are every two years. When I was at the African Continental meeting in Dresden, Libya was mentioned for 2009, but don’t remember anything after that. I wonder if South Africa has made a bid.

  7. Next African Individuals will be in Zambia , during African Games after 2 years . The same like what happened in Abuja – Nigeria 2003 .

  8. No Algeria 2007 was only African Games , but Individuals was in namebia 2007 . In Zambia 2011 will be the African Games ( Team Rapid and individuals Blitz for medals ) and also Individuals Normal time qualifing to World Cup. So we will see 3 kinds of play at the same period , that happened only on Nigeria 2003 ( Which I have very bad memories from it – Scorpion and malaria ) .

  9. You’re right. I believe they had the team and blitz events in Algeria and Individuals in Nambia. I covered both events as well as Nigeria (click on links). Just as we had problems with the coverage in Libya, Algeria had major difficulties.

    You say that they are including the individuals as well. That is quite a schedule.

    Nigeria was quite a story and had many challenges to say the least. I’m sure you remember with much sorrow the members of the Egyptian delegation who died. They’d be quite proud of Egypt now! Adly grew very sick from malaria, but fortunately he survived and is thriving!

  10. Yes I was the coach of Egypt in Nigeria , and a scorpion catched me , then I had Malaria , and returned to Egypt , after that with 2 days , we went ro Greece to World youth , and they discovered that me and adly had malaria and they saved us after one week in the Hospital

  11. Yes I lost 2 friends , The Arab Men Champion IM Essam Aly Ahmed , and our Chief Delegation Mohamed Labib , In Egypt they could not diagnose Malaria so it disapeared from Egypt from a long time . And I wish Zambia will organize good festival .

  12. Bassem say that there were good conditions in Libya , only the last few days , there were problems in Air-Condition . Attached in an email some photos from Bassem and you will find some good ones , If i got more I will email it.

  13. Congratulations to Grandmaster Dr. Bassem (I hope I can be allowed to write in this format!) for a splendid performance in winning the Africa Championship.

    I still remember when he came to play the Africa Junior in Botswana, he lost his luggage and had to soldier on with just one set of clothes for a week. At that time of the year the temperature here can go up to 42 degrees!Do you remember this Hassan!? Nevertheless, his mental strength was reflected by that he still won game after game to win that championship! Sheer mental strength!

    Again, congratulations champ!

  14. Hi Kenny! HERE IS A CHALLENGE!
    Let me put you in a bit of a hot-spot if you don’t mind!
    You now are firmly part of the Botswana Chess Federation (BCF). Well-done that your office managed to get your Champs over in Libya.
    Now that you are in the People’s office (BCF General Secretary you are!), will we see the golden era of BCF coming back, golden yes! you will know well when Mr. Wonder waded his magic wand. He got BCF money aplenty, organised events that had Sub-Sahara players traveling to play in Gaborone, he worked tirelessly for you players, he hired IM. Kobese to train & Coach your teams, not to mention that he paid me as a lobbyst. In fact In doing my job I predicted with confidence that BCF will be a power house in the region. To prove me correct the Bots men team “humiliated” the formidable Zambia at the Olympiad.
    The officials then included non other that Ndawana who sometime blog here! The current top crop of players including Providence emerged from this era!
    What happened to this progress? You my buddy, had a merciless ‘silver tongue’ and scribed relentlessly keeping them under constant CHECK! That’s all gone now. BCF I conclude was in a mess! That cost the region in lost ground, a lot!!!!
    You are now in the office as Gen Secretary, can you tell the world why you campaign to be in there and what can we expect from you in terms of BCF progress. If you don’t deliver will you RESIGN?
    PS. You can depend on my support, like always, RIGHT?

  15. Oh, I forgot another most important feather to atop Mr. wonder with; He got GM. Judit Polger to Botswana! Can you do better than that? (:-)

  16. We can see the success of Egypt’s dynamic duo of Ahmed Adly (2007 World Jr. Champion) and Bassem Amin (2009 African Champion). Apart from Egypt, Botswana was definitely a rising force in sub-Saharan African along with Zambia. South Africa, Nigeria and Angola always seemed to have the same core of strong players, but these two federations were producing an abundance of new talent.

    I have always wondered what happened to Mr. Wanda. Wanda waved his wand indeed! 😀 I was in constant contact with him and I wrote dozens of articles about Botswana. All of a sudden, communication stopped. What happened? Ignatius Njobvu should have gone a bit further. Perhaps the tragedy of the Botswana women going to Russia to lose 0/36 was also a major blow. I highlighted one of Kenny’s articles on the blog last year in an essay titled, “Questions about Botswana.”

    I believe Egypt’s performance can serve as a lesson of what can occur with enough support. It doesn’t mean African federations have to develop in the same way. Just as each country has a different economic philosophy based on their resources, it is the same in chess. There are enough examples in Africa to build a program. However, federations can’t wait on a handout from FIDE… it’s not going to happen.

  17. Daaim,
    I cannot agree more with your 23 post. That’s the way it ought to be and I hope something can be done to improve chess in Africa. Just imagine having nothing less than 10 players from each of the chess playing countries in African taking part in the African individual tournament. We would have experienced an upset or two and this would have been a good thing for chess in Africa. We need to discover and expose these new talents. They are out there. We got to work towards this and encourage more participation in the championship. That should be our goal for the future.

  18. The story is Wanda stole some money from the Federation and coupled with his Ugandan background got booted out of Botswana .

  19. The only other real player missing was Mohammed Tissir .Why he didnt play ,I surely do not know.

  20. Darren,

    I heard something similar, but they were not based on any substantive sources. I’m not sure his background played a factor since other Botswana chess players have backgrounds in other countries. If it did, it would be a surprise. Wasn’t Ignatius Njobvu born in Zambia?

    Yes… Tissir didn’t play and several others such as his fellow Moroccan Hamdouchi. Also IMs Fouad El-Taher, Robert Gwaze and Pedro Aderito. I believe Hamdouchi recently got married to Adina-Maria Hamdouchi a WGM from Romania. That may have contributed to his federation change and scheduling… not sure.

    What ever happened to IM Ryad Rizouk of Algeria?

  21. Of coz Njobvu was Zambian somewhere and it raised eyebrows not too long ago ,players like him and Stefanovic ,Hutchison etc were at one time excluded from representing Botswana ,I thought you knew .

  22. I didn’t know about Njobvu. If what you say is true, then they must have reconsidered that long ago. If my memory serves my, I first saw Njobvu as a schoolboy at the 1983 World Youth Team in Chicago (USA). He was coached by Oscar Mayisela who I met there. We analysed some games and I kept in contact with. I also have many pictures of Njobvu participating for Botswana. Below is a picture in 1996. When was Njobvu was banned?

    Zimbabwe vs. Botswana, 1996 Olympiad (Yerevan, Armenia)
    Photo by Jerome Bibuld.

  23. I do not know why you would think Botswana produced talented players.In that photo above that team was beaten black n blue 4-0 by Zimbabwe .Zimbabwe in fact had more talented players ,it was incomparable .

    Nedjo Stefanovic later went to South Africa,Hutchinson I do not think ever saw the Olmpiad light again after that debacle around 1998 thereabouts,Njobvu might have got a reprieve after heavy consultation with Botswana Sports commission ,Many Botswana players can bear testimony to what I write here.

  24. Yes… I posted here, but was that what we were discussing? I thought we were discussing whether Njobvu was banned from playing on the national team. Even so… federations have been grappling with nationality question in all sports.

    Anyways… I’m talking about recently, not in 1996 when the pic was taken. There was some talented players I’ve seen in the last three Olympiad. Again… it’s all relative. Talent is not being developed at an even pace.

  25. Hello Mr Hassan Khaled,
    Congratulations on the egyptian chess razzia at the individual championship.You mentioned the loss of IM Esam Aly Ahmed to malaria in Abuja, is this the same palyer who played first board for the egyptian A-team in the African team championship in Cairo in 1997? Also i seem to remember that there was a Mr Hassan who was president of the Egyptian Chess federation and chief executive in a tobacco company (whose club house was the venue of the tournament) is this person still active and alive?

  26. Interesting story at ChessBase from veteran Egyptian player, IM Aly Yasseen. He makes an interesting quote at the end of the interview:

    How do you see the chess conditions in Egypt in the past, present and future?

    In the past, chess champions were made by mere coincidences and good chances. How many talented players passed away quietly in developing countries, and in Egypt, that nobody in the world, especially developed countries, had ever heard of? For instance, the late Alexandrian player, IM Essam Aly Ahmed, was a very brilliant talent – maybe the most talented player Egypt ever had – who didn’t find anyone to give him a hand to become an elite grandmaster, or even a world chess champion. He died young after being killed by ignorance.

    Football (a.k.a. soccer) in Egypt is the “First Sport” and the only sport that gains attention and care. The developed countries give other sports some air, even full attention and care, but, unfortunately, here we – the sportsmen of sports other than football – are forced to breathe with gills to live. Chess here is considered a martyr game.

    The only positive development was in Alexandria, with the approval of the well-known Chairman of the Smouha Club Chess, Businessman/Engineer Farag Amer, to establish the first chess academy in the Smouha Club. As he has converted an old beautiful dream to reality, which happened after a strange coincidence, now young generations will not suffer like we did; they will simply have better chances.

    We have discovered very young talents in the Smouha Club Chess Academy (SCCA) and, I believe, in less than eight years – with the support of the Egyptian Chess Federation, under the auspices of Chairman Hussein Nefady – we will have great chess champions, not by coincidences and good chances anymore, but by planning, good strategy and sincere work – as in chess itself.

  27. Jackie, Daaim & Porter

    Jackie thanks for the compliments that you echo for me, and for your promised support. I cannot compare myself to Wanda, as we are two different individals with different backgrounds. Only the World will tell after I have served my time as to which era is greater. Wanda was a unique man, and it was under him that many things happened for Bots chess! His legacy is there for everyone to see, and my brother those shoes are quite big to fill!

    Jackie I bring to the executive a huge passion for chess, from all angles. As you know I like to play, but I can contribute better to our chess via administration based on my professional experience. I can promise that Bots chess will go back to its glory days. Just to show how serious we are the World Champion Vishy Anand will be in our country (yes its true!) at the end of the month from 28-30 August. Daaim I will provide coverage of the event for chess drum! Jackie you should be able to tell in a year if Bots chess is going in the right direction. And yes, if I do not deliver I will resign!

    The story that Botswana has banned Ignatius Njobvu is not true. We indeed had an era where the our Sports Council wanted to drop chess off its fold, and many reasons were advanced as a way of pushing through that agenda. Chess won the battle in the end, and Njobvu only missed the Elista Olympiad. I must say though that the Government of Botswana, as the sponsor of national teams, has the right to question why it should invest money on someone who may not be there for the country in a few years. I am not saying it is OK, but even as individuals we do question when we spend money on certain paths. The reasoning is why not invest in local talent.

    As far as Wanda is concerned, he did not steal a single Thebe (our currency) from the BCF. Otherwise he would have had a police case. He resigned because of differences with a certain members of the executive. As I mentioned earlier, the man worked tirelessly for chess. He would be up at 3am working on chess, weekends, and holidays. The best thing he should have been given was an appreciation of his good dees, while instead he was castigated. I would have done the same thing as he did!

    @ Jackie, see you soon in Jozi!

  28. As a followup to this;

    25Darren Porter a.k.a the Truth
    The story is Wanda stole some money from the Federation and coupled with his Ugandan background got booted out of Botswana .

    Wanda still lives in Botswana and doing well. He did not steal money from BCF, and he was never booted out of the country.

  29. Kenneth,
    Thats good to hear that there has been some changes at the BCF offices. As you hold some position in that federation, can you please provide some coverage of BCF tourneys and results as you used to do, they have not been flowing in the drum as you can testify. BCF website is as good as dead and thats your challenge to revive it too.
    Otherwise, wish you best of luck in your endevours.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button