Simutowe in Norway!

GM Bartosz Socko battling GM Amon Simutowe at the Artic Chess Challenge in Norway.
GM Bartosz Socko battling GM Amon Simutowe
at the Artic Chess Challenge in Norway.

Amon Simutowe is in Norway after competing in the African Championship in Libya. He mustered a +1, but was not among the top six qualifiers for the World Cup. However, things are looking well for the Zambian as he has been getting some badly-needed invitations. As a newly-minted Grandmaster from Africa, he attracts attention to the field and is certain to make an impression.

Unfortunately, Simutowe missed the first round because of a late flight and not only earned a loss, but was then paired with top-seed Bartosz Socko, Grandmaster from Poland. According to the official website, Simutowe gained some good chances in a sharp Sicilian but Socko was able to hold on and draw the game. That has to be a good result considering the disastrous first round. (see game, video)

The venue appears to be very pleasant and GM Susan Polgar and husband FM Paul Truong are also visiting. The is adequate coverage at link below with photos, videos and reports!

Official Site:


  1. I think Simutowe’s Nh5-g7-f5 manovre was interesting. The treatment in this variation is not usual. Black tends to wathc his second rank and often plays for Be7-f8-g7 and Nbd7-f8 holding h7.

  2. Videos from Round #4
    2009 Arctic Chess Challenge

    The videos shot by the organizers span the top ten boards or so and identify the players. However, they don’t give you an idea of the environment. GM Susan Polgar (probably husband Paul Truong) is shooting videos too and while she gets more of the playing hall, the footage doesn’t have much detail. You can see a shot of Simutowe looking at games in between moves. Here is Polgar’s footage of round #4.

    Video by Susan Polgar/Paul Truong.

    Link to photos/videos:

  3. Just did an interesting interview with Simutowe. I asked him questions about his quest to reach 2500, his motivation, challenging moments, advice for African players, future for African chess and his future plans. Very enlightening!

  4. We also need balanced reporting here, There are more than 5 South Africans ,2 Kenyans someone from Mozambique playing in the same tournament.Why Simutowe and Simutowe alone here? Daaim move on man .Simutowe will not win that tournament you must know by now.

  5. Yes… but notice the title of the article. I ran the story before I knew about the others. As a self-made African Grandmaster he deserves whatever exposure he gets on this site. Yes… Carte Blanche!

    Nevertheless, you’re right about a mention of the others. In fact the Mozambican player is doing quite well. There is a player from the Seychelles too. Why don’t you contribute a piece about the other African players?

  6. Re: Darren Porter,
    I really dont think Shabazz is suggesting that Simutowe will win the tournament. He is just giving him the coverage that he DERSEVES! Why dont you give us the names of the other players (South Africans), so that we get to know how they are doing. Shabazz is there any chance of you giving us the full interview that you did with the self-made African GM?

  7. Lwenyeka,

    Thanks. Of course I don’t cover a person because I think they’ll win and Porter knows this. That’s “stock market” journalism and what happens with mainstream journalists because they have to sell papers. Of course, I’m following a tournament in progress and the focus is GM Amon Simutowe. However, Porter’s claim of “balanced coverage” is disingenuous. If I would have covered the other Africans, he no doubt would have complained about them being “weak”. That’s the kind of comments he leaves on this blog… basically gossip, aspersions and complaints.

    I have been accused of not giving “balanced” coverage because I focus on players of African ancestry. This is despite the fact that I cover a wider array of nations than most sites. Nevertheless, I’m being accused of unbalanced coverage because I’m not covering each and every player of African ancestry in the tournament. Well… I don’t have the time and the assistance to do it. That is why I am now expecting a report from him on the other African players.

    The interview is coming. There are some very interesting statements he made.

  8. Lwanyeka I have to give you a tip on analysing the interview,do not pick up the questionable bits about thechessdrum prophet Simutowe.Speaking ill of the prophet on public domain is punished by public stoning.

  9. Simutowe the prophet… nice! Aren’t you the one who you spent an hour scouring the FIDE lists (back to 2001) to prove that Simutowe never reached 2500?? That is the type of spirit you have.

    Well… you have a chance to make a contribution. We will see if you are genuine in pointing out the other African players in Norway.

  10. Simutowe draws again. He’s on +1 and hopes to finish strong. GM Monicka Socko is in the lead with another win, but the sensation of the tournament thus far is 14-year old IM Ray Robson. He shares the lead with Socko on +5!! Those not in the U.S. who haven’t had a chance to follow him, this player is the real deal! He is truly talented without question.

    A couple of years ago, I had picked him to be the future of U.S. chess. While that time has not come yet, he’s making progress. He has a very sharp style. Here is his superb win over GM Allan Rasmussen. Robson’s king sprints all the way down the board and participates in a mating attack with only two pieces!

  11. Robson is big!!Natural talent ,will get better and better no doubt if he works with a renowned player ,say Bareev ,Agdestein and he will reach 2700 in no time.

  12. Shabazz,
    Thanks for the interviwew-its kind of you. So should I follow Darrens advice? Ok, personally I knew Simutowe was never going to be on the top six (At the Africa Individual). I dont remember the last time he qualified (coz he also failed in 2005 & 2007). I dont know why the guy fails to beat Egyptians! I didnt even bother to find out the result after he played El Gindy because I knew Simutowe was not going to win the game. Hope he finishes strong in Norway nonetheless.

  13. He has qualified three times. In 2005 & 2007, he certainly was not in shape. He barely played in his university years (2002-2006) and in 2007, he was experiencing lots of problems with his federation. This year it was more of the same. That is the discussion we were having during the African Championships. He clearly played below his standard… six draws I believe.

  14. Thanks for the coverage i dont see the European Assizes events too much, i know they have so much things to say. Wel Done!! Peace.

  15. Simutowe won his round seven game having to solve a problem-like ending with the dreaded h-pawn. Monika Socko had failed to win the same ending earlier. (see game)

    Simutowe then took joint 2nd in the blitz tournament with an impressive display losing only to GM Bartosz Socko. This nine-round tournament may give us a glimpse of Simutowe’s notable blitz skills.

    Simutowe in blitz tournament.

    Simutowe battling with fellow GMs in blitz.


  16. After eight rounds, there is now a four-way tie for 1st place with GM Monika Socko, IM Ray Robson, IM Marijan Petrov and GM Emanuel Berg on 6.5/8. It looks like Robson may have already scored a GM norm.

    GM Amon Simutowe was upset by a strong performance by Austrian FM Arkadiusz Leniart is now on 4.5/8 for +1. The first round forfeit clearly hurt him. Donaldo Paiva, the young player from Mozambique, is on 5/8!



    I know a number of African professors who live in the Nordic countries such as Sweden, Finland and a few in Norway, but of course it’s not a common place for an African to live. However, the Arctic tournament had a number of them competing.

    GM Simen Agdestein invited perhaps a dozen South Africans. There are others from countries such as Botswana, Seychelles, Kenya and Mozambique. Donaldo Paiva has played in the African Junior previously.

    They don’t have many of the pictures labeled, but WGM Melissa Greeff is there. She is the 2009 African Women’s Champion. There are 20 players from African countries in the tournament.

    Here are a few pictures.

    Donaldo Paiva (Mozambique)

    Lawrence Kagambi (Kenya), Tshepo Sitale (Botswana) and another Kenyan I am presuming. Anyone have his name?

    Gorata Leso (Botswana)

    Dericka Figaro (The Seychelles)

  18. Darren,

    I believe you’re confused.

    It’s not my intention and focus to be balanced on threads about particular players. That’s why the thread is “Simutowe in Norway!” Other aspects of the tournament were coming eventually, but of course there are other stories I am covering and everything takes time. You will never appreciate the time it takes to keep a very large website going… albeit as a one-man operation. It appears easy, does it not? You sit back in the comfort of your home, drink your tea or coffee, enjoy all the rich content and then log off when you’re done.

    You only feigned interest in the other Africans anyway. If you were genuinely interested in the other players, you would have made your own contributions here instead. There is no way I will believe (based on previous comments on this blog) that you were genuinely interested in the other African players. Not a chance. It is basically your disregard for Simutowe that drives your intentions here.

  19. Monika Socko wins Arctic Chess Challenge! Ray Robson is joint first with fellow IM, Marijan Petrov and GM Emanuel Berg all of whom scored 7-2.

    I believe Robson scored a GM norm. His TPR is over 2600 and he played four GMs (+2 =2). Robson is homeschooled and got quite an education here in Norway. His father was seen in photos chatting up GM Susan Polgar and reveling in the moment. I’m sure he’s quite thrilled!

    Amon Simutowe won his last-round game and ended on +2 with 5.5/9. He could not gain momentum after arriving late and forfeiting the first round. He did however, fair well in the blitz tournament taking second. Unfortunately there is no video footage of the blitz games one the top boards.

    Donald Paiva of Mozambique fared well with 6/9. The junior player beat a few masters including IM Fabio Bruno and will take this valuable experience back to the continent. Looking at his games, he seemed to have a good command of the Sicilian Najdorf and is an inveterate 1.d4 player. Nice smooth style.

    The rest of the African contingent were clustered in the bottom half, but the experience (both chess and social) will be invaluable for their development.

  20. Okay people, I just have to admit that I have followed this interesting dialogue between Daaim and Darren from the begining. Sometimes, I have even laughed my a.. off because of how witty these comments are. I perfectly understand where Daaim is coming from though – the hard work of maintaining a website/blog along with other endeavors of life is tough. I also edit a chess website, so I know what it takes to do this. Its very difficult. Most people don’t know the amount of work that one puts into each article that appears on the website. So when one gets criticized for not writing something right or maybe made some grammatical errors and so on, its very painful.

    On the other hand, Darren did a good thing by pointing out that there are some other Africans taking part in the tournament that ought to be given coverage. That is okay, but I am sure Daaim would not have left them out if he has the right info (complete and accurate info if you will) on those chess players to do a through writing at the beginning of the tournament. No doubt he has some interest in Simutowe as they have been friends for a long time and Simutowe is just making his debut in the international chess scene as a new GM and we are all sort of wondering how he will perform against other GMs, but Daaim’s track record has shown that of a fair and balanced Journalist.

    Case in point. We just witnessed the African individual event in Libya. Did anyone notice how information came out in trickles until much later? A lot of details don’t come out right away and we report whatever we have the first time until much later. I am sure that was what Daaim did here just as it was done in the African Individual event. He has now added the coverage of more players of the African decent in the Norway tournament and this is a good thing. My hope is that anyone who is in possession of some valuable information about some event and the participants (including pictures) should make them readily available to those who wish to publicize the event as soon as possible
    and not ridicule their efforts. Its hard enough to find relevant chess news about African chess players these days and we should support the efforts of those who are taking the time to make them available to us on a regularly basis. My one cent.

  21. Daaim,

    Do not get disheartened by the negative comments of some, you are doing a marvelous job for chess!! From that photo of three gentlemen I recognised my president in the middle. His name, Tshepo Sitale (post #22)

  22. Kay,

    Thanks for your lengthy contribution.

    Running a major website and an accompanying blog is exceedingly difficult in today’s times, but if The Chess Drum didn’t exist, we would be discussing the issue of creating it.

    This issue has nothing to do with covering the other Africans besides Simutowe. Porter has access to the same information that I have and I provided the links. His point was, “Why are you focusing on Simutowe? He’s not going to win.” On that rationale, which African should I cover? Yet he comes back and says I should cover the others. You can see the deceit here.

    You’re certainly right that Porter has no idea on the difficulty of creating and maintaining a website or blog, but he doesn’t care… he could have posted the information here. For someone who is based in Europe (England still?) and claiming to care so much about Africa, he never fails to make condescending comments about top African players. He deserves no praise whatsoever for his feigned interest.

  23. Daaim if you are a man ,get sponsorship for Chess and stop blogging too,Chess nees sponsors anything else is secondary .If you want to report or help with website ,wire the passwords or give me admin rights.You could froth and vent with false accussations but as usual I will not enter any argument with no substance .

    All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.-Arthur Shopenhauer.

  24. Okay Daaim and Darren, Its time we head to the white house. President Obama is waiting for you at the Rose garden with cool beers for the needed peace summit. Cant we all just get along? Enough for now gentlemen. The sun will definetly come out tommorow. Lets look towards that. Peace.

  25. Exactly my point Daaim. The discussion has shifted to this unfortunate back and forth argument about something else and we need to get back to the title of the thread and in a respectful manner too.

  26. There are a lot of questions about the presence of the large African contingent. The questions center around how they were notified and subsequently sponsored. South Africans sent 12 players to the tournament upon the invitation of GM Simen Agdestein. I believe the others may have been invited by other Norwegian authorities and perhaps through informal channels.

    There is a discussion on the Kenya Chess discussion board about Larry Kigambe and Isabella Asiema’s participation. Many members seem surprised that they were playing in an international tournament. Apparently, Kenyans participated independently of the Kenyan chess authorities, or were special guests.

    Nevertheless, it was good to see GM Amon Simutowe, Donaldo Paiva and all other Africans battling in Norway. In a place where Africans are few in number, it also shows the international reach of chess diplomacy. While GM Pontus Carlsson is the monarch of Black chess in Europe, more players of African descent are beginning to travel to places that were once only dreamt about.

  27. The question is are the 12 South African players based in South Africa or in Norway? If they are based in south Africa and they actually traveled en masse for this tournament, then that is a much bigger news right there. As you know by now, we have been trying to expose a lot of local Nigerian chess players to top level tournaments outside of Africa and it has not been easy sponsorship wise. So this is a good thing to see that it can be done with proper planning.

  28. “By evidence of all the typos and grammatical errors, there is no way I would let you get within three feet of my keyboard.”

    Stop! LOL

    My father once told me, if you gave someone a free check and told them they didn’t have to work . . . they would complain and ask it it anyway they could get direct deposit instead of picking it up every week.

    First, GM Simutowe is of great interest to most of the readers in my humble opinion. There are only three “black African GM’s,” so any coverage of them is highly appreciated. We should support these guys through anyway we can. The article is titled Simutowe in Norway…. not Africans in Norway. Period.

    Second, there is no way anyone can appreciate running this site ALONE. I run a blog and a group on and it’s extremely time consuming! I couldn’t imagine being a professor and running this site alone. Picking someone to “help” with the site isn’t an easy task … especially if your wanting to control the quality.

    Third, this is a unique site. I laughed when I read an accusation of Daaim not covering other Africans. I would guestimate about 98% of the outstanding players here would have no coverage and all if it weren’t for this site! It’s simply a laughable suggestion and not worthy of any merit. (Sorry Darren).

    On a sidenote, Anand is going to be in Botswana

  29. I remember an old joke… people want to get paid more for doing less and more time to do it in… and they want help! 🙂

    On a serious note, all the folks reading this should enjoy The Chess Drum while it lasts. It’s my contribution (time and funds) for as long as I am able, but it is not guaranteed. Do not take it for granted.

    What Simutowe has accomplished is to be celebrated and anyone who belittles it is not welcome here. If he is to be seen as some type of a prophetic visionary, so be it, but we have witnessed a very important breakthrough in chess.

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