Will Gwaze be next African GM?

Zimbabwe Zimbabwe Zimbabwe

IM Robert Gwaze

It has been almost nine years since IM Robert Gwaze won a gold medal by scoring a sizzling 9/9 at the 2002 Chess Olympiad. There has been question of his whereabouts and activities. Most of his fans would like to know what he is doing to pursue the Grandmaster (GM) title. Gwaze is currently in Zimbabwe and doing quite well. He won the Botswana Open last month, but is looking for opportunities abroad.

The Chess Drum’s Daaim Shabazz put him in touch with László Nagy of Hungary, the man responsible for the famous “First Saturday” tournaments. Nagy has made an open invitation to African players seeking norms. The tournament is more commonly known as a “Rites-of-Passage” for players seeking IM and GM norms and has been in existence since 1992. A number of top players have played there and it reads like a list of “Who’s Who in Chess.” (official site)

Here is what Gwaze had to say about his plight:

I get a fair number of tournament invitations every year. And very often I’m offered free entry plus accommodation. It is getting to the tournaments which is my main obstacle as I can’t afford to fly myself to Europe. So instead I end up settling for events within my reach even though they don’t add up that much to my chess. Thanks for putting up my name to Lazslo. He indeed invited me to the three GM events coming up soon. It’s such a wonderful and great opportunity four me to get my 3rd and final gm norm. Unfortunately I have to let this chance pass due to the same reason, I can’t afford the air ticket to go there.

Gwaze told The Chess Drum that while he is eager to earn his last GM norm and has changed his approach to chess and now employ a physical training regiment. While he has secured a “sponsorship” from a Zimbabwean clothing company (FaithWear), but it does not entail travel expenses. He is looking to make the last stretch to earn the last GM norm and get the last 70 points for a 2500 rating. If anyone wants to assist Gwaze in this effort, please contact him via Facebook.

IM Robert Gwaze competing in 2010 South Africa Open against Jordan Star (0-1)

IM Robert Gwaze competing in 2010 South Africa Open
against Jordan Star (0-1)


  1. Daaim,
    I was disappointed to read about the reason for IM Gwaze’s absence from a number of these potential GM-norm events. After his “golden” performance at the 35th Chess Olympiad in Bled, Slovenia one hoped that he would have obtained significant sponsorship. This is particularly so bearing in mind, inter alia, the great publicity he earned for his country.

    I can still recall standing by his board in Bled and watching him play, especially when he essayed the Sicilian to dismantle Bahrain’s Almannai to reach 9/9.

    We, in Jamaica, are going to consider how we can possibly help. In the interim, we say keep strong “African lion” and continue to prepare so that when you get the “call” you will be ready!

  2. That is where local organization comes in. It would be more feasible to have Grandmasters come to Africa to give the players more chances at norms. I believe organizers in Africa and the Caribbean can do it. If Asia and Latin American can do it, these other regions can do it. South Africa is certainly an attractive place for GMs and Gwaze told me he was heading there soon.

    I wish he could get a visa to play in the the U.S. The Caribbean may also be a place that does not have the political barriers (with Zimbabwe) that the U.S. has. Let’s get this done!

  3. We can definitely do it, particularly as our region is very attractive to players and tourists for many reasons – the great weather, the fantastic people and cuisine and the tremendous sites/sights.

    The 2009 Magnificent Chess Foundation/UWI Masters event and the 2010 UWI/JNBS norm events held in Jamaica were steps in the right direction. We hope to make these events (and more!) standard fare in the very near future so that players in our region and others like Gwaze can get opportunities.

  4. Wow Daaim, are you sure about that? I think we need to look at all African player and their potential from N. Africa to S. Africa!

  5. Well certainly Gwaze is going to be the next GM. Victory is born of struggle.I’m so happy for my Zimbabwean nation. We have abundant chess talent the likes of Gwaze, Mandizha, Makoto, Moyo to name just a few. Due to this awesome talented players emerging from our nation I’ve decided to contribute to the further development of chess in Zimbabwe. My contribution is mainly about developing chess at the grassroots level. I’ve just started training primary school level kids this beautiful strategic game in Glen Norah,Harare(Gwaze is from Glen Norah). Well, the academy is simply called Glen Norah Knights Chess Academy(www.gnknightsclub.com). I used to be on board 2 and Gwaze board 1 during our youthful days at the Glen Norah Gunners Chess Club in the mid 90s. CHESS NEVER DIES IN GLEN NORAH!!

    1. Good John to here that you are starting with the grassroots. However the main issue is how we should help Gwaze be the next African GM. I have been following this guy ‘s chess since his return from Europe becoz i didnt believe that he had become that strong all of a sudden. The guy is a talent for sure and we should quickly do something about his wish as time is no longer on his side. May be we should start a trust fund for him. He should also give us a plan on how he intends to achieve his wish. However i was not happy with the results in Angola. My understanding of a GM is someone who can like gwaze achieve good results against other GMs and thrush those who are not that good. He should always be merciless with us in the lower ranks so that there is no element of doubt that he is and will be the next African GM. On a side note, IM Kudzanai Mamombe should stop travelling too far from his base to play chess as he will definitely be making serious financial losses. Unfortunately i cant reveal my name but getting 1/7 is not acceptable and as his close friend i am very disappointed. Where i stay people laugh at me for his perfomances and ratings as i am the one participating in those tournaments. Imagine people saying your friend is the weakest IM in the world.

      1. This is why I do not agree with getting IM titles from one result. The three-norm system is done for a reason. Unfortunately, many African and players from the Caribbean have to rely on the one-shot titles because the chances are so few. When you earn an IM title in a weakened field, it dilutes your status if you are well below 2400. Farai Mandizha may be one of the few Africans to earn the IM title using the three-norm system.

      2. Gwaze is good for sure. He needs more opportunities and it all comes back to the financial issue. The Trust Fund idea is good and needs to be properly managed to achieve the desired goal. As for Mamombe I believe he can do better with better preparation. He was simply not match fit!

        1. Well… Gwaze is not the issue here. The “one-tournament/one title” is a policy that cripples Africa in the long run. If you have players with IM titles, but ELO less than 2200, it makes securing GM norms almost impossible for an IM. For tournaments in Africa you have this issue even when you get three foreign GMs to play. The parodox is that their ratings have to be very high (to offset low ratings) and generally you don’t won’t this in norm tournaments.

          Gwaze will be mixed in a field with three GMs and several lower-rated IMs and it destroys any norm chances. The way GM norms are earned is you average the rating of your opponents to determine the category for a norm, or number of points needed for norm. If your opponents have a low average rating, then you need more points for a norm. Gwaze will most likely need 7/9 or 7.5/9 in such tournaments. This is a tall order.

  6. guys it upsets me to see a country like Zimbabwe full of talent and even possible GMs without a single corporate sponsor willing to assist. it just goes on to show that social responsibility by companies is only theoretical and best used for their advantage.As i speak the Zimbabwe might even fail to send its representatives to the nation junior championships in Poland by the end of the month jus because there is no sponsorship. WHAT IS THE NATIONAL CHESS ASSOCIATION DOING ??????

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