Nigel Short campaigns in Africa

Angola Uganda Ethiopia Angola Uganda EthiopiaAngola Uganda EthiopiaAngola Uganda Ethiopia

Nigel Short is on the African trail again prescribing an “anti-Kirsan” platform in the upcoming election. The elections will take place at September’s General Assembly meetings at the 2010 Olympiad in Siberia. The campaign barbs have sharpened over the Russian endorsement controversy.

GM Nigel Short trip to Africa hopes to bear fruit this time around.
Photo Š ChessBase.

Short repeats his formula of four years ago, contending that FIDE under the leadership of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov does not provide the direction needed for growth. The British legend previously stopped in Angola at the Cuca International tournament and is now visiting the land of the crested crane to make a plea for Anatoly Karpov’s candidacy.

Despite initial contentions that the 12th World Champion does not have a chance, it appears that momentum is gaining. Karpov has won several endorsements and Ilyumzhinov has made missteps which are accented by undiplomatic writings from his running mate Ali Nihat Yazici.

According to reports from Uganda, Short played a 25-board simul (23 wins, one loss and one draw). His shocking loss was to Grace Kigeni, a young lady who stars in the Ugandan League. He then gave a presentation on the FIDE election. Harold Wanyama gave a overview of Short’s visit, but stated that the British GM seemed agitated when he did not get a firm committment from UCF.

Short campaigned for Bessel Kok in the 2006 election and his visit to Africa gained mixed reviews. Many Africans seem skeptical of these envoys since they seem to come every four years when votes are at stake. However, Short has been consistent in his mission to rid FIDE of the Ilyumzhinov regime. This time he may succeed.

Note: At press time, Kebadu Belachew says that Short has landed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for a similar event.



    Dear All,

    British Grandmaster Nigel Short’s visit to Uganda ended on a high with games he played against 25 Ugandan players (simultaneously) winning 20 of them, losing one and drawing four.

    GM Short’s only loss was at the surprising hands of a female player Grace Kigenyi, who features for National Chess League Champions, Mulago Kings. The draws were equally surprising against upcoming players Haruna Nsubuga, Walter Okas, former Junior champ Arthur Segwanyi and Olympiad Bob Bibasa. Bibasa is the only senior national team player who managed a draw against the GM.

    Other senior notably senior national team players like Harold Wanyama, Grace Nsubuga and Patrick Kawuma all lost against the GM.

    The games that commenced at about 6pm yesterday ended at about 10 pm in the night with GM Short displaying attacking flair, skill and stamina in moving from one board to another all evening while taking on 25 local players at the same time in what is refered to as simultaneous play that was being held at that level in Uganda for the first time in history.

    It is also the first time that Uganda hosts a Grandmaster. It gave a rare opportunity to local players to match their wits agaisnt a player of that calibre. Many of them will certainly keep the recordings of their games against Short for years to come.

    He is scheduled to fly back today at 6 pm.

    Earlier, GM Short addressed local playesr and answered various questions about the candidacy of Anatoly Karpov against current FIDE President Kirsan Ijumhinov in the presence of National Council of Sports Secretary, Mr. Jasper Aligawesa and Mr. Timothy Magala at Oasis in Lugogo.

    Vianney Luggya

  2. Nigel arrived last night in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for a similar visit. He is going to play a simul againist the top men and women players, the players who have been selected to represent the country at the 2010 Olympiad and other veteran players. Hopefully we will get a win of our own and few draws. More later.


  3. According to the preliminary report I received by phone, Nigel’s 1 day event in Ethiopia went very well.
    The big news, a simul against our best 22 players went 1 WIN!!!, 1 DRAW!!, and only 20 loses in our players favor.

    The 1 win came from one of our new and upcoming player, Ashenafi Mulugeta. He is a college student who made it to the national team selection and will be playing for Ethiopia at the 2010 Olympiad, InSha Alah!!

    The 1 draw came from one of our veteran players, Brihane Gebregziabher, who has represented Ethiopia in a number of Olympiads and other international tournaments.

    Apparently, our friend Nigel did not like the 1 loss and the 1 draw at all which changed his mood for the rest of the day until the farewell dinner with traditional music / dance show. Exhaustion might have added to the cause of his irritation. Earlier in the day, he analyzed few of his games (I believe against Kasparov) to chess audience and provided interview to the media.

    We were hoping he would be able to add an exhibition blind fold match to capture the media and public imagination further but time was in short supply.

    Well, the very first in history of Ethiopian Chess (at least officially), A world class super GM visited and rubbed pieces with local players. We would like to thank him so much and assure him that his name will have a page in history book of Ethiopian Chess (Senterej).

    He will be flying out early tomorrow morning although we are not sure where to (looks like he keeps his itinerary private for security purposes or he likes to keep us guessing)

    Kebadu Belachew

  4. Kebadu, I am quite used to losing games of chess 🙂 I can live with it. I thought my score of just one loss and one draw was actually quite reasonable. Don’t forget that GK usually doesn’t play anyone rated over 2000 in simuls, but I do 🙂
    The source of my irritation, to which you referred, was the TV guy with halitosis who said he would like to ask me two questions. He asked me to sit down and he took out a pen and paper. He began “What is your name?” “How do you spell that?” He then proceeded to ask my age (44) and when I began playing chess (5). He then asked how many years I had been playing chess, to which I replied with some exasperation that he could probably work that out. “Oh, 36” he said . After several more of these inanities, I asked if we could begin the interview. He said “no, that was it” and that the camera had been filming the whole thing. It was so ridiculous and unprofessional – which I could live with – but what infuriated me was that he refused point blank to start the thing again.
    Anyway, this one incident aside, I had a very good time. Your brother Bihon was a most charming host. We finished the evening listening to live music and eating traditional Ethiopian food with our hands 🙂 I hope next time I will be able to stay for much longer.

  5. Daaim, Yes, I am planing on going to Khanty-Mansiysk for 2010 Olympiad if we can get budget to cover my player’s transport cost and we don’t run in to visa issues. We will be honored to have you in Ethiopia anytime. Please, let us discuss this further (offline).

    My Dear friend Nigel, I am glad you liked your short trip experiece so much so you want to go back for more and longer. You will always be honored guest. You know, Greece is not that far from Ethiopia and EA has direct flights from Athens to Addis.



  6. Nigel,

    Oh, another one of “how many moves can you see ahead” interviews. 😐 If the interview went the way you’ve stated, I can see the frustration. Wow.

    Halitosis. Yeech.

    Neverthless, Ethiopians are always gracious hosts. Eating the injera bread and the daal is always a pleasant experience! Well… the election should be quite interesting. I’m not sure Ilyumzhinov has any lives left.

  7. Nigel are you gonna come to Kenya?

    But I honestly doubt many of the african officials have the game at heart. I doubt they care for their own players in their own countries. They are more interested in Kirsan/Yazici ‘gifts’. Karpov will find it very tough to win the elections.

  8. Mehul,

    I believe you’ve stated elsewhere that the stakes have risen and I agree with you. “Gifts” will not win the election this time. Even Uganda is not set on Ilyumzhinov after receiving 200 chess sets. Africa has traditionally not voted uniformly. “Chess-in-Schools” is a pipe dream and as the recent article by LÊo Battesti points out, it is not the best formula for producing strong players.

    In fact, the USA has a strong Chess-in-Schools program and draws more than 5000 students to “SuperNationals” but the amount of strong players coming out of this is very few. I will give African federations more credit than to be swayed by chess sets/clocks or promises of chess programs. Ilyumzhinov erred when he went to the Congo with this plea and the country does not have much of a chess community.

    I believe Kirsan Ilyumzhinov would have been better off had he not allowed Yazici to write so many mean-spirited letters. They may turn the tide in favor of Karpov. Yazici may even be over-estimating Turkey’s success, but I will commend his vision.

  9. Mehul, Greetings!
    I might well come to Kenya. Unfortunately I didn’t have time on this occasion – I just snatched one week’s visit between other long-standing committments. Obviously I will get in touch with the federation the moment my plans become clearer.

  10. I was completely outplayed by Grace Kigeni. I had the better of the opening but then made a couple of inaccuracies and was brutally crushed with astonishing rapidity.
    It is the nature of simuls that one sometimes makes hideous blunders – particularly when it is hot and sticky and one is still shaking off the effects of hard travelling. However this was not the case here. I make no excuses: hats off to my opponent!
    I might add that I think that not all the guys were too happy with this result. There was patronising comment afterwards from one or two people to the effect that I had somehow gone easy on her. That is rubbish, of course. Anyway, I do hope that this result will strengthen the (overwhelming) case for Uganda to send a women’s team for the first time. It ought to have been done before.

  11. I hope Uganda is not fraught with the difficulties from 2008. The visa issue was appalling and several African countries were affected including Ethiopia. Angola also had problems. I had several phone conversations with Kebadu Belachew who kept me abreast of the bullying tactics of FIDE.

    During the African Congress, FIDE Treasurer Nigel Freeman attended and basically said he understood the difficulty, but Africans had to pay their dues. However, the system is inflexible. He even made a statement that if Bermuda can pay, then African nations can pay. Does he mean the poor federation that can spend thousands of euros putting on a party every Olympiad?

    I suggested to Freeman to allow teams to travel and to pay in Germany. He refused and threatened to cancel accommodations unless dues were paid. He even threatened Nigeria. It turns out that they had duly paid their dues and had a receipt. FIDE’s records were inaccurate.

    The entire Ethiopian female team was denied because some were school girls and could not show income. I would imagine Siberia, Russia may be easier since the chances of overstaying a visa would be remote. Both Zambia and Uganda only had two boards on their teams due to visa issues.

    Ghana had three boards for five rounds until one player finally got a visa after pleading his case. He had applied months in advance. Harold Wanyama wrote an impassioned plea on ChessBase for help. Shadrack Kantinti joined the team in round 10 and traveled the long distance to play two rounds! Some people stated that it was the Ugandan officials who were to blame, but FIDE has to do a better job at marketing the Olympiad as an important event. I doubt if FIFA EVER had problems with African teams getting visas.

    Let’s hope that Uganda is able to send both teams this year with controversy.

  12. Kenya will not have a problem with the tickets…we are one of the better performing economies on the continent and the government has plenty of money to send players out. We don’t even need to resort to corporate sponsors.

    Uganda, I really hope they have no problems. I am not very familiar with the ladies team (though it is now clear they have serious potential) but I know their men’s team is OK.

    On the issue of Karpov vs Kirsan WCH match…umm…I would still confidently say Kirsan has it in the bag. Kenyan and Ugandan officials will 95% vote for him. It’s difficult to change the minds of the officials because they are mini-Kirsans themselves. Nigel Short can try convincing them otherwise but it’s like playing GK in a world championship match!! But who knows….miracles can happen.

  13. Mehul,

    Not sure what platform Ilyumzhinov has. Most of the regions are split in the vote. Africa is split, Europe is split, Asia is split… not sure on Latin America and Middle East. As is often the case with challengers, Karpov can campaign on “change”. Of course, change is needed in a number of areas, but he has to be more specific. Ilyumzhinov can claim to have hosted several World Championship matches. I’m not sure what else he has done, but that may be enough for him if Karpov doesn’t have an substantive plan.

  14. The “Kirsan is invincible” idea is one of the great myths of our time.
    Apart from Ali Nihat Yazici, hardly anyone thinks Kirsan is doing a good job: they only vote for him because they think he is going to win. The moment people understand this is not the case, Kirsan’s support will crumble.

  15. I think GM Short is very correct and most people are not willing to waste their vote and be the 10 in a 159-10 defeat. I respect Mr. Karpov greatly and the tactics used by the Kirsan team are “disappointing”. However Karpov still has some distance to cover to shed the perception of being a wasted vote. Good luck to you on that!
    More important I think is the perception that chess politicians are a once every four years(or longer) species. I remember seeing Mr. Short recently in Barbados and I’m sure we are looking forward to seeing him soon. How does this “only at voting” time visit shift that perception again? Of course it does not.

  16. Hi all,
    Firstly I would like to thank GM Nigel Short for visiting us and becoming the first ever GM over here.
    The visit was worthwhile considering that Uganda will now think twice of whom to vote for. The feeling I get here is that the one that gives the most tickets is the one that shall be voted for(But thats just me).
    Considering that the mens side was on average a rating strength of 2150, Nigels score was impressive. I saw Grace’s game and it was really good, she lifted her standards on the day. If she was born in Europe she could easily have made WGM/GM.
    Everyone enjoyed Shorts visit though it was Short( pun intended).
    We hope to host u next time and I promise it shall be 10 times better.

  17. Well… I wished Africa had more visits by GMs for tournaments, but organizers cannot duplicate the Artur Kogan-South Africa fiasco. I was talking to FM Farai Mandizha last night at the Chicago Open, I told him that IM Robert Gwaze needs more opportunities. Fortunately the Angola tournament was a good test. He beat a strong field, but we still don’t know how strong he is. After the 9-0 blitz in 2002 Olympiad, he hasn’t gotten many chances to show his talent. If Africa can attract strong GMs (with conditions), then that will migitate the problem of African players having to raise thousands of dollars or euros to travel.

  18. GM Nigel Short…It was great pleasure having you in Uganda.

    The simultaneous was one to be apart of and yeah…I kept my recording sheet!!! With the zeal the federation is handling issues, this time round Uganda’s Ladies might/will make it to Russia.

    As for the team to vote 4, Its not in my power, how i wish!!!
    I hope they vote wisely…

  19. GM nigel, it was a pleasure hosting you and we r privileged to be one of the few african countries that u visted, though alittle short, ur visit i believe made a great impact on ugandan (upcoming and potential)chess players. we look forward to meeting in russia this september. all the best.

  20. Congrats to GM-elect, Robert Gwaze:

    “Gwaze now a GRANDMASTER”
    “Glen Norah Gunners Chess Club sori y’all,yours truly has been on a sabbatical bt m glad to inform u all that our very own robert gwaze won in angola and got another GM norm mekn him a GM wen the next ratings r out.yesiah we r nw truly on the map”

  21. Woody,

    Thanks for the article. I will have to do some checking on it. He needs at least 2500 ELO to qualify. What is certain is that he earned GM norms for winning African Junior, but will have to check if it was clear first in both cases. Will have to check the result in Angola.

  22. It doesn’t appear to me that Gwaze earned a norm in the Angola tournament. There were only two GMs that I count… Luis Galego (Portugal) and Oleg Korneev (Russia). You need to play three Grandmasters to qualify for a GM norm. That is only one of many requirements. I’ll keep checking to see if I missed someone.

  23. GM Nigel Short in Ethiopia

    Nigel Short giving a presentation in Ethiopia.

    Bihon Muluken Belachew with Nigel Short. Ethiopian Chess Federation Secretary, Yoseph Daemo Abera is at the right.

    Nigel Short giving a presentation in Ethiopia.

    GM Nigel Short beginning a lecture.

    Nigel Short giving a presentation in Ethiopia.

    Dr. Yohannes Damtew standing next to Short who makes his first move in the simul game. Dr. Yohannes is a chess fan / activist and former federation member.

    Nigel Short giving a presentation in Ethiopia.

    Former chess Olympian Birehane G.Michael observing the game between Nigel and Desalegn Fekadu, hero of Dresden Olympiad. Fekadu drew the Irish GM Alexander Baburin at the Dresden Olympiad.

    Nigel Short giving a presentation in Ethiopia.

    Fikreselassie Alemu and Yiman Abera (?), two Olympiad members.

    Nigel Short giving a presentation in Ethiopia.

    Zemenay Menassie, the top ladies player posing for the camera. She will be representing Ethiopia at this year’s Olympiad. Next to her is the sole winner at simul, the college student, first time national team qualifier, Ashenafi Mulugeta.

    Nigel Short giving a presentation in Ethiopia.

    Ashenafi shows his game to spectators. At the far end, Birehane, the last player alive, still fighing it out.

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