Rodwell Makoto: 2011 Zimbabwe Champion

2011 US Open

IM Robert Gwaze is not the only Zimbabwean who can win nine games in a row in an important tournament. Rodwell Makoto won the Zimbabwean National Championship with a perfect 9/9. This dominance follows his credible showing at the African Individuals back in June. His strong showing may identify him as a rising talent in Africa.

To put Makato’s performance in perspective, Spencer Masango finish far back with 5½ points while Farai Masanganise, Elisha Chimbamu, Dion Moyo and Bismark Bhobhojani had 5 points. Lloyd Moyo had 3½, Emerald Mushore 3, Lewis Kahoba 2½ and Byron Gurajena had 1½.

In the Candidates Castro Sibanda got joint first with Hamilton Mandeya on 8/9, but won on Bucholz tiebreaks. In the third slot was Musekiwa on 7½ points. Tied on 7 points were Munyaradzi Chivende, Gift Sithole, Anesu Masimba, Elisha Thabov, Sherperd Chimhungwe and Givson Malije.

Full story here!


  1. This is a good posting regarding an event that comes out of amongst the most talented individuals par to any African country!Plus a vociforous bunch see ZIM CHESS on facebook if you dare!
    We witness yet another late discovered Africa talent. I am reliably told Makoto (rightfully AKA Kotov!) was ahead of Mandizha in their young days. However, currently Farai is now rated +2400 and is in danger of becoming an IM-Elect for life, like the federation head being President perpertually. In fact, on a side issue, according to my calculations, Farai is now Zimbos #1, having overtaken top maestro Gwaze!(September ratings would have proven me correct!). Anyway, Sadly Kotov is still languishing around 2100, far below his capabilities!
    Most upsetting is to see Zimbabwe and Zambia’s official ratings missing from the world’s listing. Yet we claim to care about chess development in Africa, as we rub shoulders at high offices!Who do we realy care about?
    Remember in the Botswana held Zonal? The young man had to watch from the touch-lines? Now I hope BCF realizes their folly of not allowing him to display his abilities regardlessly, inthe interest of the chess fraternity there. I yelled then that the outcome would have been different, Alas, no one could stop Gwaze as ussual. Gaborone, sorry you missed beautiful attacking chess!
    CONGRATS KOTOV, your chess strength is around +2400 trust my Elo estimates. Against all these odds, play catch-up boy! Always remember what I said to you when I met you the other day!

    1. u are absolutely have looked closely from your analytical point of view, its true..the point which u have singled out is of great importance as far as chess in Africa is concerned..l am also seeking for a solution to this silentltly l will keep you posted

  2. Farai told me recently that he has filed the application for the IM title.

    I saw both Zambia and Zimbabwe missing as well. Not really sure the issue. Makoto is like many African players who are underrated. Simutowe was 2240 until he began playing in international tournament. He quickly went up 200 ELO points in about two years time and was 2462 when I met him in the USA at age 19.

    1. You are very correct Daaim. Amon simply notched huge Elo’s almost overnight! The trouble for Africa players is exposure and opportunities. Mandizha will not graduate to IM without the payment of outstanding federation fees.Zambia will also not be published for the same reason I was reliably told!

      1. Jackie,

        I believe you can file individually as an exception under special circumstances. I’ll have to check to be absolute certain, but apparently a player cannot be held from finalizing the requirements for lapses by its own administration. However, the player has to come up with the fees for processing and submit the packet with the proper form. I told him to contact FIDE and state his case. They told him to go forth with the filing, but I don’t see his name on the list for title applicants. I’ll check with him again.

        1. This is interesting info. Well done again Daaim!
          This makes sense in that a player who wants to make a living out of chess like he tries should not be beholden to a federation, in some plausible cases, if it does not exist.

  3. Well Done Kotov!. As far as comparing Mandizha with kotov or any other player from zim will not be a fair deal done. He is a player of his own time, there will never be another Mandizha. I believe Mandizha won all the all the scholastic and national Championships during his time. At one point he had the opportunity to sweep all his opponents and guess what, all the players withdrew from the national champs. It was 12player round robin; he had already scored 8/8. Zim Chess players will never give him a credit.

    1. Hey Chess Guru
      I think you are missing the point. I am not comparing the two players willy-nilly, but rather the situation around them. At best I am high-lighting the maladministration of the Africa talent and perhaps argue why we never see GM’s blossom like as in other parts of the world. I wish to repeat that I was voluntarily in charge of Mandizha’s meteoric rise in chess beyond his scholastic era. I was constantly made aware that there is a much more talented youngster in ZIM, in several cases Farai was barred from participating in FIDE events on behalf of ZIM for nefarious reasons, with claims that Mandizha is usurping Makoto. Again, IF both were fast tracked, what do you think would have happened? This is the question!

  4. Splendid, magnificent performance at the Zimbabwe National Championships. What a distinguished and illustrious showing by this young man from Mabvuku, Harare. Makoto’s exhilarating and invigorating performance may surely identify him as a rising supreme talent in Africa. His chess is surely of the highest quality, degree, character and importance. GLEN NORAH KNIGHTS CHESS ACADEMY ( is greatly impressed thus we say CONGRATS Kotov for the scintillating showing! The Academy welcomes you to its base to meet the young KNIGHTS as well as to receive $300 meant for chess players who have excelled in a series of strong tournaments.

  5. I believe the key here is what can be done in the PRESENT and not was done in the past. We already know of Africa’s problems and it’s probably not encouraging to complain here if solutions are not included. There is no way to know what could have happened to the progress of players and it is too late to speculate on it. What we can influence is what happens now.

    Currently, Farai is in the US and he has done well in his years here, largely unassisted. Simutowe earned his GM title largely of his own talent and meager resources. Gwaze has not gotten much further and neither has Kobese (who should be a GM). What is the solution given the lack of administrative assistance?

    1. I argue that we can not understand the PRESENT without interrogating the PAST, lay it bare to it’s fullest understanding. To the intelligent mind, it will be revealed that there-in lies perhaps, the SOLUTION.
      For example, MAKOTO must follow the path laid-down by MANDIZHA, and FARAI must trail what AMON blazed! This is the barest minimum.
      Beyond this, of course a solution MUST be found so as to not continue the destruction of the emerging talent Africa has to offer. We must demand better from those who are in leadership, or at least constantly hold their feet to the fire!
      There are many youngsters I hear about deep in this continent who are reportedly remarkable and outstanding. I can no longer personally HELP them as I did for the mentioned individuals. That is why I am hoping to twist the arm of Garry so that we have an independent system that will operate beyond my family’s inconveniences. I am hoping to establish a FUND to help unearth and blossom talent. This will then draw the Simutowe’s of the past back into the fold without asking them to loose their progress in economic terms! Could this be a solution?

      1. I agree that players must repeat Simutowe’s result, but NOT his process. It was dysfunctional and while enduring a lot of frustration, he almost gave up. At 18, he was 2462 with two GM norms. He entered the university in the U.S., gave up focus on chess and played rather mediocre during this time. After graduating he had dropped down close to 2400 and still had two GM norms.

        After traveling around trying to get norm opportunities, he was going up and down. He got his third norm in the Stimulans tournament in 2007 and it took him a long time to get his ELO above 2500. He made about three more GM norms before making 2500. He also had a hard time raising money for his travels and had constant squabbles with his federation… still unresolved. I would not say that his is a model to follow. If he had waited on someone’s largess, he may not have become a GM. He did it through sheer talent and determination, but it was 11 years between his IM title and GM title. I did an essay on Simutowe’s journey and it demonstrates the rough road. African players should admire the result, but not repeat the method. (Read “Simutowe’s Last Mile“)

        Mandizha is doing well here, but not without tremendous difficulty. I repeat… we can follow his result, but not his process. Right now… assistance from the administration may not be possible. An individual player has to chart his/her own course. In the USA, no player gets any assistance from the federation (which almost went bankrupt years back) and players do not get conditions for tournaments. Most are left to find their own way.

        We can’t expect Africa, with fewer resources, to be any different. There seems to be the notion that these types of problems only exist in Africa when many of the larger federations find themselves embroiled in scandal and mismanagement. I visit African internet discussion and they are amazed when the problems of rich federations are pointed out.

        1. Hi Daaim
          I truly appreciate your essay. Unfortunatly I do not feel you understand Africa chess problem. It not a parallel to top federations anywhere in the globe.
          Surely recommendations to others is not about learning from Simutowe’s process. By the way there is nothing wrong with what he has gone through by himself. I see lessons in every aspect there I believe the problem is Africa fed officials who act as stumbling blocks making it all more uneasy for determined players to make it. Take for instance “the refusal to let players play’, the “stealing of players medals (Odion + Gwaze) by officials”, “Corruption and money laundering”, failing to pay FIDE fees, the list is long….
          Amon, Watu,Robert and several top players I worked close with never to my knowledge wanted anything like money from their fed. They in all cases I am aware of, wanted minimum mandatory admin help, to be met by incompetence or a demand for shared glory (That’s why the “stealing” of medals as an example.)
          I will nevertheless soldier on with my desire to help the lads within reason. That is why to prep plates and promote togetherness, I am putting together a match between Botswana and Angola this weekend, to be followed by SA-Rebels Vs, Angola, and last but not least; Angola vs. Zimbabwe Rebels!
          WATCH THE SPACE!

  6. Jackie,

    It is strange to say that one cannot understand the African chess scene despite having visited federations in Africa, written hundreds of articles about African chess, interviewed and discussed the situation with many African players, officials and attended FIDE conferences. If that is your assertion then I’ll leave you to it.

    If you are still discussing the federations, it is fine that they are taken to task. However, what is the plan to correct the federations? If African federations act as stumbling blocks, then players have to organize at a different level. I’m not sure what kind of “administrative help” you are referring to, but if a player has aspirations, he may be forced to chart his own course and move on.

    Here in the USA we don’t have a choice. Every player is on his own and gets no federation assistance. That is why there are relatively few IMs and GMs produced here… and only one Black GM from 1999! The improvement we have had in the USA has not been through the United States Chess Federation, but through private interests and benefactors.

    Amon would not have become a GM if he had waited for a resolution of his reimbursement situation from his federation. You say there is nothing wrong with what he went through, but I disagree. It was a rocky process, but he achieved his goal. I had many conversations with Amon while he was here (and before) and he was very close to giving up. It was gut-wrenching and he wrote letter after letter about the conflict with his federation. I had to keep encouraging him to get focused on his last norm.

    Lastly, we know the problems in chess… and the list is long for many federations, including the larger ones and FIDE itself. What is the solution? What is the process of building sustainable federations? If building a collective chess spirit in Africa is the goal of the matches, then that may indeed “prep the palate”, but what’s after that?

    (Note: The matches are a wonderful idea and I would go further to suggest an Pan-African Chess League, but if African players are to improve, there has to be more norm tournaments at home. Amon zipped around the planet and incurred a tremendous sacrifice to earn norms to make GM. We would hope that the next African will have a better road to travel.)

    1. Daaim
      I largely agree with your analysis of the way forward in chess. But I must stubbornly refuse to concede to you that the good work that you do and did could have given you the proper insight to understanding the Africa Chess problem. Maybe you understand the scene, yes. Believe me even I sometimes have difficulty grasping the problem. But I am at least at the coal-face all the time, I do not visit the situation, I live it!
      I am aware that you privately, you put the Federations feet to the fire and you ask tough questions, but perhaps it’s time you go at them openly! Because they will tell you one thing privately and act differently covertly. The troubles Amon had admittedly then, guess who was the President of the Federation? Did you pressure him by publishing “way forward for Simutowe?”, I sincerely apologize if I missed it!
      Rather let’s argue why Zambia and Zimbabwe federations do not appear in the FIDE rating list and who is responsible for the maladministration. Just IMAGINE how stumbling it is for players like Daniel Jere (Zam), Farai Mandizha (Zim) and Rodwell Makoto? They must be discouraged by it somehow, get it?
      Let’s then be blunt about it and ask why does Africa have representatives in FIDE? Why can’t they use their presence there to find solutions? Here is ONE solution; The money should be written-off for CACDEC countries! This is hypocritical to give with one hand and take with the other. If these officials can not get it right, then they must resign. Besides, sually SANCTIONS are applied to hurt OFFICIALS and not PLAYERS.
      The Drum beat was used as a tool to report even emergencies and critical issues like famine and disease. I strongly suggest we have a kind of OP-ED where in the Drum where we can read a weekly rant on issues. Talk about solutions; This without a doubt, will be one.
      Lastly, Egypt Chess officials the likes of Mr. Hassan are to be congratulated. I don’t see them hanging around Kirsan for doles, I see their actions speaking loud and clear in the form of players over +2600!

  7. Daaim thank you for the open discussion. Hopefully this debate is beneficial to people at large. Sorry for the Typing errors!

    1. Jackie,

      You have your own individual experiences with African chess and I respect those. It is but one of many views. It is assumed that I don’t understand when I decide not to air these contentious issues and all manner of gossip for the world to see. It is done for a conscious reason. My mission is to “highlight the accomplishments” of players in the African Diaspora.

      There are already negative views of Africa (in general) and these issues will only confirm the thesis that Africa does not deserve any candidates in the World Cup (a common notion), do not deserve votes in FIDE (a common notion), should not be awarded “one-shot” FM and IM titles for one performance (I agree) or do not deserve to host any international events (I disagree). These issues that affect Africa should be cleaned up internally.

      There are many avenues to understand the conflict and I have visited African online discussion groups to hear the debates. Some of them are very personal and visceral. It’s complicated and often the result of historical animosities built up over time. What results is shouting matches simply done in an online format. Believe me… they are UGLY, embarrassing and frankly, counterproductive. It appears that African chess players do not know which way to turn for help. The impact of past African FIDE Presidents has been marginal.

      Many Africans seem to believe that Europe and America do not have problems at these levels because they revere these countries in general. I respect them, but I will tell you that they have problems… it is even WORSE in some instances! We saw that in the last FIDE election. There is nasty fighting that will make African conflicts look tame by comparison. Since there is more at stake you have million-dollar lawsuits and even some death threats! You have no idea. However, Africans may view it from the perspective that at least rich nations have a place to play and an obvious structure (despite some dysfunction).

      I’m interested in proposed solutions to the problems you mention above. Just like I told one gentleman who wanted me to publish rants on The Chess Drum exposing all the dirt of east Africa, he had no solutions! It was just line after line of pointing fingers at people who were accusing him of improprieties. He was primarily trying to clear his name and wanted to use The Chess Drum as the vehicle. I can see nothing constructive in this.

      We can have an op-ed, but not specifically about rant after rant about how inept Africans are. When you do that people do not merely think of chess, they think of African failure. Why can’t Africans find solutions? No one in FIDE will advocate for a continent that they view is in a state of perpetual chaos. It the same in finance and economic development circles. There is a reason that Africa is not often mentioned in these realms.

      You may want see the article I did last year called, “FIDE: Which Way Forward?” A spirited debate came from this and I was criticized for being critical of FIDE’s policy in Africa. Indeed… you missed this one.


  8. GM Nigel Short wrote an article in the lastest New in Chess titled, “In and Out of Africa”. He chronicled the three recent events he competed in and gave his impressions. He ended with criticism of FIDE reiterating his theme during Karpov campaign that Africa is only given attention during FIDE elections.

  9. Hey Daaim, you make incredible good argument points that truly are insightful. Even when I differ with the some of the view points. I appreciate and am enriched. Thanks!

  10. Amon was following this thread and simply said that it was a shame that people were not contributing to the discussion. That is the issue. I read many blogs and discussion boards and Blacks around the world typically stay in their small groups. That is why there are few influential Blacks in chess and we do not have a voice. We are politically unsophisticated and do not voice our views in open forum.

    1. I totally agree with your last threads. I know best about the experience of critisizing one aspect of our self ( An honest reflection) only for that to be used against oneself plus it be spun widely into other irrelevant spheres. I am not sure wether the answer is to not air dirty laundry at all.

      As for Amon, I truly believe he should SPEAK-OUT openly by posting his opinions from time to time. Besides, there are many who he inspired in the South African townships in the late 90’s. Today, some are Engineers,Bank senior officials and hold other proffesional careers. They always ask about him and indeed follow the Chess Drum! So, come on GM! Lead!

      1. We must take much more of a role in FIDE. The 2004 and 2008 Olympiad showed me how much disregard there was for African federations. Of course, Asia has “graduated” and they are very influential now. Latin America is not well-developed, yet they have more people working in FIDE such as Jorge Vega, a big voice for them.

  11. Yep! Daaim, you make another pivotal point. All the officials who ascended FIDE echelons in the wake of their Federations have made strides to benefit their home-bases respectively. I once had an interesting discussion with the late Campomannes, he proudly told me that his proudest moment is when he introduced the great Bobby Fischer to the people and President of the Phillipines! Sadly Africa officials have a different take on the point.

    1. I’m still wondering why there was so little coverage of Anand’s visit from the African chess community. I was on one African chess blog and nary a mention was made of it until I posted a link of the story I did. Not much discussion followed.

      1. Daaim
        Chess in South Africa is still largely a Whites sport. No one can dispute this. So I feel the world Champions visit may have been lost in a racial crack! Sad as I know from my discussion with Anand he has a soft spot for RSA! It sure could have been handled properly.

        1. I understand, but why no coverage in the other African countries? No discussion? There is more coverage when Nigel Short visits an African country than the Anand!

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