African Diaspora at the ’12 Olympiad

WGM Oleiny Linares-Napoles (Cuba)… world’s strongest female of African descent. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

The 40th Chess Olympiad in Istanbul, Turkey has been a fortuitous one for both Africa and Caribbean nations. They have garnered a number of upsets which gives one the impression that the gap is not only closing (has closed) between Europe and Asia, but between Europe and the rest of the world. Africa has stepped onto the world stage and people are taking notice of the increase in strength of the players.

Most of the finest players in the Diaspora are on hand here competing in their nations colors and we will take a look at some of the key moments and some intriguing photography. GM Pontus Carlsson, WGM Oleiny Linares-Napoles, IM Robert Gwaze, IM Kenny Solomon are all present. There will be a round-by-round account of the teams with some of the games (playable).

See features here!


  1. Round #2

    There was one upset when IM Kenny Solomon of South Africa beat GM Zhang Zhong (2595) of Singapore. Apparently there is an error in the score because in the final position white can play Qxh7 mate. Solomon would go on to do more damage… we’ll see later on.

  2. Round #4

    In the fourth round, Solomon got the Brazilian player Vescovi and held him. There were also a few other scalps as well.

    IM Kenny Solomon (RSA)GM Giovanni Vescovi (BRA), ½-½

    Andrew Kayonde (ZAM) 2180 – IM Ilir Seitaj (ALB) 2400, 1-0
    IM Ibrahim Labib (EGY), 2429 – FM Rodwell Makoto (ZIM) 2139, 0-1
    Leykun Mesfin Sisay (ETH), 2115 – FM Ahmed Abdul (IRQ) , 2314 1-0
    IM Andrei Obodchuk (IPCA) 2399 – Arthur Ssegwanyi (UGA) 2178, 0-1

    African Diaspora Spotlight

    Ian Wilkinson (President of Jamaican Chess Federation)

    Ian Wilkinson (President of Jamaican Chess Federation)

    Ian Wilkinson photographing FM Warren Elliott.

    Ian Wilkinson photographing FM Warren Elliott.
    Photos by Arman Karakhayan.

  3. African Diaspora Spotlight

    We often think of the African Diaspora as those who were descendants of those captured as slaves and taken to the Western Hemisphere.

    Ghada Al-Khulaifi (Qatar)
    Photo by David Llada.

    However, people of African descent span the globe and populate the Middle East as indigenous people. You can find them throughout the Arabian peninsula and they have been resident for thousands of years. Some are said to have migrated from Africa across the Red Sea from the horn of Africa.

    Qatar is one such nation where the descendants of African people are prevalent. I first met saw the Qatari team in the Turin Olympiad in 2006. In 2008, they won a prize and I met them again in the airport. I told one of the team captains that I planned on visiting Qatar and did so in 2009. (see report)

    Qatar Qatar Qatar

    Qatar women win Category E prize at the
    2008 Chess Olympiad in Dresden, Germany.
    Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

  4. Photos from Round #6
    Photos by Daaim Shabazz.

    Uganda vs. Mauritius (men)

    Mauritius vs. Uganda (men)

    Mauritius vs. Uganda (men)

    Team Nigeria

    Team Nigeria! (L-R) Bomo Kigigha, Oragwu Chukwunonso, Balogun Oluwafemi, Adesina Adeyinka

    Nigeria (L-R): Bomo Kigigha, Oragwu Chukwunonso, Balogun Oluwafemi, Adesina Adeyinka

    Sudan (R-L): Abubukr Abdalsalam, Mohammed Elnasri, Jamal Adam, FM Rashid Yagoub

    Sudan (R-L): Abubukr Abdalsalam, Mohammed Elnasri, Jamal Adam, FM Rashid Yagoub

    Jamaica (R-L): FM Warren Elliott, IM Jomo Pitterson, CM Duane Rowe, Andrew Mellace

    Jamaica (R-L): FM Warren Elliott, IM Jomo Pitterson, CM Duane Rowe, Andrew Mellace

    Oleiny Linares-Napoles (Cuba)

    WGM Oleiny Linares-Napoles (Cuba)

    Zimbabwe vs. Uruguay (men)

    GM Andres Rodrigues (Uruguay) vs. IM Robert Gwaze (Zimbabwe)

    GM Andres Rodrigues (Uruguay) vs. IM Robert Gwaze (Zimbabwe)

    Kwadwo Bonsu (Ghana)

    Kwadwo Bonsu (Ghana)

    Angola vs. Ethiopia (women)

    Angola vs. Ethiopia (women)

    Chile vs. Botswana (women)

    Chile vs. Botswana (women)

  5. Round #7

    Kenny Solomon did it again! This time beating GM Ivan Morovic of Chile. There were rumours circulating in South Africa that if Kenny got a 2600 performance, he’d get a GM title. This is not true, but he is certainly making a good account of himself!

  6. Round #8

    After beating his third GM, Solomon is in serious hunt for the GM norm. He has the 2600 performance and has played seven GMs. There are some errors in his game with Cuartas as he hangs his queen according to the score.

    IM Kenneth Solomon (RSA) 2414 – GM Jaime Cuartas (COL) 2521, 1-0
    GM Pontus Carlsson (SWE) 2511 – Adeyinka Adesina (NGR), 0-1
    IM Farai Mandizha (ZIM) 2390 – GM Ziaur Rahman (BAN) 2516, 1-0

    GM Pontus Carlsson (Sweden) vs. Adeyinka Adesina (Nigeria)

    GM Pontus Carlsson (Sweden) vs. Adeyinka Adesina (Nigeria)
    Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

  7. Round #9

    Long-time African chess warrior has shown flashes of talent that made him one of the most promising prospects in Africa. If not for a racist apartheid regime and the banning of South African players from international play, IM Watu Kobese would certainly be a GM. He has beaten Peter Leko and Judit Polgar and today toppled Bulgarian GM, Kiril Georgiev. While the Bulgarians won the match, another scalp fell.

  8. African Diaspora Spotlight

    Sabrina Chevannes (England)

    Sabrina Chevannes (England)
    Photo by Arman Karakhayan.

    South Africa vs. Bulgaria (men)

    South Africa vs. Bulgaria (men)… Kobese beat Georgiev!
    Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

    Blood on board between Zimbabwe and Jamaica...unfortunately it was all Jamaican blood.

    Blood on board between Zimbabwe and Jamaica…
    unfortunately it was all Jamaican blood.
    Photo by Daaim Shabazz.


    Uganda’s male National Chess team has beaten Group D rivals Myanmar 4-0 in the ninth round to return to the top of Group D with 10 match points tying with Thailand but having a better tie break.

    Patrick Kawuma and Elijah Emojong beat International Masters Wyun Zaw (rated 2398) and Myo Naing (rated 2312) respectively as Harold Wanyama and Bob Bibasa also secured straight wins against Myanmar’s Win Tvn (rated 2174) and Aung Kyaw Moe (rated 2149) respectively to ensure a perfect score in a game that both sides had to win to remain in contention for Group D’s highly competitive top spot with two rounds to go.

    Uganda will now be in for yet another trying moment in the second last round against Chile which four Grandmasters!

    The top ten in Group D are as follows:

    Group D
    Rk. SNo flag Team Team TB1 TB2 TB3 TB4
    1 108 UGA Uganda 10.0 143.0 19.5 72.0
    2 109 THA Thailand 10.0 104.0 17.5 68.0
    3 101 ALG Algeria 9.0 138.5 16.5 72.0
    4 94 TUN Tunisia 9.0 129.0 19.0 77.0
    5 112 EST Estonia 9.0 121.5 16.5 79.0
    6 96 PUR Puerto Rico 9.0 116.5 19.0 68.0
    7 99 GUA Guatemala 9.0 111.5 18.0 68.0
    8 107 BOT Botswana 9.0 107.5 17.5 71.0
    9 102 SYR Syria 9.0 101.0 15.5 67.0
    10 117 SRI Sri Lanka 9.0 99.5 15.5 72.0

    After 8 rounds, USA is leading Group A, Phillipines is leading Group B, Uruguay is leading Group C, Uganda leading Group D and Sudan is leading Group E. There are two more decisive rounds to be played.

    Thailand, which has the same number of points as Uganda at the top of Group D will be playing Bangladesh in round ten.

    Uganda’s ladies team drew with Korea 2-2 in a match in which Ivy Amoko and Phiona Mutesi secured beautifully executed wins against Korea’s WCM Kim Taegyeong (rated 1536) and Cho yeon hee (rated 1542) respectively. On other boards, Grace Kigeni and Goretti Angolikin lost to Wang Chengjia (rated 1988) and WCM Byun Sungwon (rated 1566).

    The ladies will be up against Ethiopia in the tenth round.

    Uganda Chess Federation
    P.O. Box 2355, Kampala – Uganda.
    National Council of Sports Headquarters, Lugogo
    Tel: +256-752-426559

  10. How come there is no coverage on Zambia. I believe Zambia came out as best third African team? Nevertheless thanks for the footage

  11. You are referring to photos of Zambia here? There are references to Zambian games here. Everyone wants photos of their own federation posted. If you want photos of Zambian players, go to The Chess Drum’s Facebook group where I have many listed there. This page was meant as a few highlights and not to cover 27 African teams comprehensively.

    In 2002 and 2004, I created a page for every African and Caribbean team, but it is a tremendous task and nothing short of a full-time job. Some of what you find here is a function of what the country officials has made available. Notice the videos from Jamaica. However, if you want photos, here are a few from the ones I have posted on the Facebook group.

    ZAMBIA vs. TRINIDAD & TOBAGO (Round #10)

    Zambia vs. Trinidad

    Zambia vs. Trinidad

    Zambia vs. Trinidad

    * * *

    Constance Mbatha

    Constance Mbatha was a popular photo subject for obvious reasons.

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