12th All-Africa Games (Rabat, Morocco)

All-Africa Games 2019 (Morocco)

The 12th All-Africa Games started in Morocco on the 19th of August with the Opening Ceremonies. The quadrennial games will be held in several cities and feature 301 events in 26 sports. All fifty-four nations are participating. The official site gives some history.

First organized in 1965 in Brazzaville, the 12th African Games will take place from 19 – 31 August, in Rabat, the capital of Morocco. After 50 anniversaries, this edition is a real opportunity to look back at the results and the highlights of a multi-sports tournament that Morocco will embrace on its land.

The 2019 African Games are marked by the participation of 6000 athletes, from 54 African countries, competing in 26 sport codes. Also the Rabat 2019 African Games will be a qualification step for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, for several sports. Thus, for the first time in the history of this important continental event, 18 different sports are expected to be qualifiers for the Tokyo Olympics, which comes to take these Games to a new level.

Events will be held in seven Moroccan cities, namely: Casablanca, Rabat, Sale, Temara, Khémisset, Mohammedia, and El Jadida.

Opening Ceremonies

All-Africa Games 2019 (Morocco)

All-Africa Games 2019 (Morocco)

Photos by Jeux Africains Rabat 2019

Thus far the media has been up to par as the event is receiving wide coverage in social medi circles and the official website has been on the mark thus far.

The chess portion saw twenty teams open play today in the 15’+10″ rapid segment. While most of the sporting events will take place in Rabat, the chess festivities will take place in Casablanca and feature rapid and blitz in five events: mixed team rapid, men’s and women rapid, men’s and women’s blitz.

All-Africa Games 2019 (Morocco)

Lekan Adeyemi making the ceremonial move at Ahmed Adly’s board.
Photo by Kema Goryaeva/FIDE

Official Site: (English, French, Arabic)
Chess-Results: https://chess-results.com/tnr465340.aspx?lan=1&art=2&rd=1
Chess24: Mixed Rapid (Team), Individual Rapid (Open, Women), Individual Blitz (Open, Women)
Photos (FIDE): https://www.flickr.com/


  1. According to Mehul Gohil of Kenya, there was a controversy in the Morocco-Tunisia match. Apparently it occurred on the last board. Here is a snippet of what he told us…

    Both players were below a minute on clock.

    The Tunisian (playing white) had a crushing position.

    In the time scramble, the Tunisian made an illegal move (leaving king in check) while taking a pawn with 44.Rxa3 and pressed clock.

    Morocco-Tunisia (mixed-round two)

    There was a question as to what the penalty should be, but apparently the game has been ruled in Tunisia’s favor and they have drawn the match. Here is the game.

  2. All-Africa Games 2019 (Morocco)

    Games off to a sizzling start

    There are not enough superlatives to describe the organization of the 12th All-Africa Games thus far. Mehul Gohil of Kenya gave the event full marks and sent loads of photos showing the excellent conditions. “Maputo in 2011 was wonderful. This is even better,” he said. Of course, what would a first-hand experience be without any photos to capture the moment?

    All-Africa Games 2019 (Morocco)

    Beautiful colors!!
    Photo by Mohamed Bounaji

    All-Africa Games 2019 (Morocco)

    Kenya’s Mehul Gohil with Nigeria’s Lekan Adeyemi
    Photo by Mehul Gohil

    All-Africa Games 2019 (Morocco)

    Lekan Adeyemi making the ceremonial move at Ahmed Adly’s board.
    Photo by Kema Goryaeva/FIDE

    Action started with the mixed team event. Five rounds with each team fielding two men and two women. The first round was a wash with the favorite winning the matches by large scores. Only Nigeria failed to get the 4-nil verdict giving up draws on the top two boards. It was good to see teams from Mali, Central Africa Republic, Eritrea and Cape Verde. These are small and relatively new federations.

    All-Africa Games 2019 (Morocco)

    Mali brought a team including one FIDE Master.
    Photo by Mehul Gohil

    It would be interesting if Africa got all 54 nations to join FIDE. Twenty teams made the trip with Egypt the top seed. With Bassem Amin and Ahmed Adly on the top two boards, the the Wafa sisters, other teams would find Egypt a tough challenge.

    Both GM-led Algeria and Morocco got wins, but one thing apparent is that competition is getting tougher. While the score piled up the games were surprisingly competitive. In the second round, the matches were closer and only one team scored a “clean sheet” with Sao Tome Principe beating Central African Republic 4-0. The other matches were more or less competitive, but there was a controversy that held up the pairing for round six.

    On the fourth board of Morocco-Tunisia, the game Closed Sicilian look promising as white won an exchange, but black had compensation. Then the game became tense and errors started to pile up. White ended up losing the exchange and it appeared that black was firmly on top.

    After 44…Nh4+, Mayar attempted to play 45.Rxa3 when Marzouk claimed a win.

    Unfortunately black went for 34…cxb3? 35.Rc8+ thinking she would promote her pawns, but after 35…Kg7 36.Qxa3! bxa3 white was hanging on. Black had clear compensation for the exchange with a mass of pawns, but the fleet rook begin to pick off pawns. In the end, white was a clear rook up when in time pressure she left her king hanging and controversy ensued. According to Mehul Gohil of Kenya, both players were below a minute on clock when the Tunisian made the illegal move.

    All-Africa Games 2019 (Morocco)

    The controversial match…
    Mayar-Marzouk is the second board to left.

    All-Africa Games 2019 (Morocco)

    We can see the rook on a3 in the disputed game.

    All-Africa Games 2019 (Morocco)

    The arbiters try to sort it out.
    Photos by Mohamed Bounaji

    There was a question as to what the penalty should be and the round was delayed until it was sorted out. The journalists could not get any information on the ruling, but in the end, the Tunisian got the verdict and salvaged a draw on the illegal move. Unbelievable! Tunisia earned a 2-2 draw.

    Games from Round 2

    All-Africa Games 2019 (Morocco)

    Sao Tome Principe’s Juazilmira DE OLIVEIRA B RITA
    Photos by Mehul Gohil

    In round three, Algeria would try to test Egypt, but all they could manage was a draw on board one with Ahmed Adly and Bilel Bellahcene splitting the point. Morocco edged Botswana and Providence Oatlhotse held Hichem Hamdouchi in a game that ended with a funny locked position. Oatlhotse would score a GM-scalp against Bellahcene later on.

    Angola-Nigeria engaged in a pitched battle as they are two of the most talented countries south of the Sahara. Oladapo Adu tried to employ a hedgehog, but Pedro Aderito played an early e5 and got an edge. Amidst the complications, the Angolan seemed to get a winning position, but later got his rook trapped! Blitz kills. The Nigerian reeled in the point giving Nigeria the margin of victory.

    Games from Round 3

    Round four had some interesting games. African champion Shrook Wafa converted a R+N vs. R against Firdaous Mayar of Tunisia. The game was completely drawn, but the Moroccan fell into a trap and lost her rook to a fork. What a horrible tournament for Mayar who also lost the controversial game in round two.

    Another game that needs a look on how to press the initiative was Bellahcene-Adu. That game started 1.Nh3!? but after a dozen moves, white had a normal position. The Nigerian fell asleep at the wheel and was hit by 19.Nxd5! White sacrificed the queen and it was instructive to see the two rooks dominate the open d-file. A nice shot at the end was elegant.

    One of the tricky parts of the mixed event is the unpredictability of the bottom boards. Many of the teams have inexperienced players and the tension is much greater than anything they may have faced. Also some of the games have been played all the way until checkmate which is interesting because on the lower boards you get see some wonderful mating patterns! Check out Mesfin-Kourakouba, Haile-Gamba, Kone-Morais!

    Games from Round 4

    In the last round of the day, Egypt continued its dominance with another +3 win against Tunisia. Nevertheless, they have only a two-point lead over the field. Algeria beat Botswana, but as mentioned Bellahcene lost on board one! The Algerian started his black game with 1.d4 Na6!? I suppose his successful use of 1.Nh3!? had given him confidence, but this reality was soon shaken.

    Providence Oatlhotse got a nice win over GM Bilel Bellahcene’s 1…Na6. Photo by Mohamed Bounaji

    The Algerian got a normal position, but the structure is not one of the most ambitious for black. White kept the edge, but after 20 moves of maneuvering, black sacrificed an exchange. Immediately the evaluation goes to +1.26 meaning that the engines were not impressed. It turns out that black didn’t have full compensation especially since his bishop was restricted by his own pawns. The Botswana player held the exchange, kept the black queen at bay and ended the game with the nice 87.Kh1!

    Zimbabwe scored an upset win over Morocco with Rodwell Makoto holding Hamdouchi. The game ending with an improbably five pawns against a rook! The Zim player had actually got a crushing kingside attack, but the wily Grandmaster held on for dear life. He had to sacrifice material to survive. At one point, white had two pawns for the rook… then three… then four… then five! The final position is amazing. Mohamed Tissir was brutally crushed by Emarald Mushore while the women traded wins. The shock of the round had to be Angola’s +3 drubbing of Zambia.

    Egypt ended the first day of play with a two-point lead, but they have also piled up the board points with a total of 18. Algeria has 13.5. Should be an interesting day tomorrow!

    Games from Round 5

    Official Site: (English, French, Arabic)
    Chess: (Schedule)
    Chess-Results: https://chess-results.com/tnr465340.aspx?lan=1&art=2&rd=1
    Chess24: Mixed Rapid (Team), Individual Rapid (Open, Women), Individual Blitz (Open, Women)
    Photos (FIDE): https://www.flickr.com/

  3. All-Africa Games 2019 (Morocco)

    Despite upsets, Egypt take gold!

    Zimbabwe vs. Nigeria fought to a thrilling 2-2 draw. Photo by Mohamed Bounaji/FIDE

    Zimbabweans Rodwell Makoto and Emarald Mushone chat before their first round game against Eritrea. They would win their games, but the were more proud of the wins they got in round six. Photo by Mohamed Bounaji/FIDE

    What a finish in the first chess event ending with the Egyptians edging the field and winning the gold. In round six, Egypt were winning their matches comfortably, but had a scare after both Ahmed Adly and Bassem Amin lost in round six! This sent shock waves throughout the hall and the continent. Perhaps the Egyptians were feeling too comfortable and got a rude awakening.

    One can see that competition is getting a bit more stiff on the continent as evidenced by the number of upsets during the tournament. Providence Oatlhotse of Botswana beat Bilel Bellahcene while Tunisia’s Amir Zaibi also beat Bellahcene and Hicham Hamdouchi.

    Nevertheless the Egyptians came back with a vengeance. In fact, it would be the Wafa sisters (Shrook and Shahenda) who piled up huge scores, 8/9 and 8.5/9 respectively. Shrook Wafa’s loss was to Lorita Mwango of Zambia who seems to be quite a dangerous player in continental play. The Zim ladies Linda Shaba and Colletta Wakuruwarewa maintained stable play. In fact, Shaba got an upset win over Mwango in the battle of the only “Z” nations on the planet.

    Games from Round 6

    Malawians were lead by two FIDE Masters FM Joseph Mwale who tallied 6/9 and FM Gerrard Mphungu who compiled a strong 6.5/9. Mwale beat Zambian International Master Stanley Chumfwa in the process. According to online reports, Mwale is based in South Africa and serves as a professional coach there.

    Malawi vs. Nigeria. Photo by Mohamed Bounaji/FIDE

    Malawi vs. Nigeria

    Mali vs. Namibia. Photo by Mohamed Bounaji/FIDE

    Mali vs. Namibia
    Photos by Mohamed Bounaji/FIDE

    The rapid portion is filled with twists and turns as we saw during the event. Providence Oatlhotse had a 100-move draw with Hamdouchi (3rd round) during which pieces shuffled behind walls of pawns. It was a bit humorous to see such a game. There was a R+N vs. R than was a draw (Osunfuyi-Silva) and another that was a win (Wafa-Mayar)! Kudos to Phemelo Ketho for saving the rook ending against Mohamed Boudriga two pawns down. It ended with the famous stalemate trick!

    What was also amazing was the number of picturesque checkmates delivered over the board. Some of them are obviously embarrassing, yet instructive. With the “Puzzle Rush” craze in the chess world, some of these games may be candidates for inclusion. Below are some of mates seen during the mixed segment (names withheld). Some were mate-in-one slips and others were combinations ending in mate. Mate happens.

    Puzzle Rush @ 2019 All-Africa Games!

    As one would imagine with the accelerated time control, mistakes are more common. However, there were some powerful games played including the above Amin-Mushore where the Zim player held his composure after the Egyptian threw all of his pieces at his king. That was a great moment for the untitled player. Zim’s results allowed Algeria to move within a point of the lead, but they never made up any ground. Ethiopia had quietly crept into medal contention.

    After the scare, Egypt obliterated Botswana 4-0 on Ahmed Adly’s beautiful attacking game against Oatlhotse. The win only took 17 moves and was an impressive display of power. The loss must’ve motivated the Egyptians. Algeria remained close on match points, but they had already lost to Egypt and were far behind on board points. Zimbabwe kept punching hard, beating Angola as Mushore beat Angola’s young IM David Silva.

    Games from Round 7

    In the penultimate round, Algeria was hoping that Zambia would halt the march of Egypt, but their IMs were no match. Adly even played the “hippopotamus” setup to keep Chumfwa off balance. Ultimately, the Zambian went astray thinking he would have enough compensation for a sacrificed piece. Meanwhile, Amin crushed Kayonde with a barrage of tactics to collect the point. Algeria won again to keep pace, but Egypt had all but clinched the gold.

    Games from Round 8

    While it is true that Malawi had moved up into 6th place, Egypt was looking to win in style. The two losses in round six may still sting. Since the draw with Zimbabwe in round six, Egypt had three wins on 11/12. Algeria punished Ethiopia 4-0, but they’d have to be satisfied with silver. Before the loss, Ethiopia had moved into 4th place. Bronze will still up for grabs.

    Zimbabwe was a mere point ahead of Ethiopia and Tunisia. With both teams losing, Zim only needed a draw to clinch… which they achieved. Nigeria was just out of the medals, but ended strong.

    Games from Round 9

    Most of the teams struggled with consistency and were unable to gain momentum. If we look at the bottom of the charts, several of the teams had hard times. Cape Verde has relatively young players with little experience. Countries like Central African Republic, Mali and Eritrea will build in this experience before the continental championship and Olympiad next year. It was great to see them in action!

    Cape Verde: Honorina Morais, Loedi Gomes, Joel Pires, Luis Moniz. Photo by Mohamed Bounaji/FIDE

    Cape Verde
    Cape Verde Cape Verde Cape Verde
    Honorina Morais, Loedi Gomes, Joel Pires, Luis Moniz
    Photo by Mohamed Bounaji/FIDE

    As we move on to the rapid individual, there will be more focus since one lives and dies by their own effort. It will be interesting to see the transition from a team event to an individual event. Perhaps bitter fights are ahead of us tomorrow. Stay tuned!

    National Anthem

    Official Site: (English, French, Arabic)
    Chess: (Schedule)
    Chess-Results: https://chess-results.com/tnr465340.aspx?lan=1&art=2&rd=1
    Chess24: Mixed Rapid (Team), Individual Rapid (Open, Women), Individual Blitz (Open, Women)
    Photos (FIDE): https://www.flickr.com/

  4. All-Africa Games 2019 (Morocco)

    Fire on Board in Casablanca!


    That is the one word that will describe the action today in Casablanca. While most of the world were preparing for the Sinquefield Cup at the St. Louis Chess Club, thousands were tuning into chess24 to follow the All-Africa Games. In addition, Arkady Dvorkovich was on hand to make the ceremonial move before the day’s action started. It has been his plea to spread the joys of chess globally and he mentions Africa frequently. In fact, many of the journalists have given plaudits to the current administration for their attendance in Morocco.

    Mr. Arkady Dvorkovich, FIDE President
    Photo by Mohamed Bounaji

    Of course, chess had previously been included the All-African Games as recently as 2011 in Maputo, Mozambique, 2007 in Algiers, Algeria and 2004 in Abuja, Nigeria. The Chess Drum gave the events coverage, but social media had not developed at that point. There was not widespread coverage in the chess media.

    GM Ahmed Adly (Egypt) vs. IM Stanley Chumfwa (Zambia)
    2011 All-Africa Games in Maputo, Mozambique

    Many things have changed since 2011… besides the venue of colorful jackets. There is a new FIDE President and his staff has bought into his message of making chess excellence more attainable. There was also the appearance and endorsement of General Ahmed Nasser who serves as the President of Association of African Sports Confederations.

    Arkady Dvorkovich chatting with General Ahmed Nasser while Kema Goryaeva (left) and Egyptian Chess Federation President Dr. Hesham Elgendy.

    Introduction of General Nasser

    General Nasser making ceremonial move at the board of the two Egyptian sisters, Shrook and Shahenda Wafa.
    Photos by Mohamed Bounaji

    Now onto chess…

    Today’s games were absolutely thrilling. There were lots of twists and turns as the format meant everyone was playing for their own glory. The posture of the players seem a lot more intense. In the first round of the open, all of the favorites won without exception. In the women’s field there was one upset as Caxita-Magne was a very unpredictable affair.

    In a Center Counter, white was actually winning right in the opening as black spent more time than usual trying to untangle her position. In fact on move 12, white has the killer 12.a4! (+4.59) and black will be fortunate to last five more moves. By move 25, white had lost most of her advantage and probably spent time trying to find the knockout blow.

    Unfortunately, it was black who had the initiative. Under time pressure, white hung a piece, then black hung one back. The game settled into a R+Q vs. R+Q and five pawns. However, black’s passed d-pawn was ominous and white failed to stop its march. So there it was… a 500-point upset.

    Open (Rapid Chess – Round 1)

    Women (Rapid Chess – Round 1)

    Rapids underway!
    Photos by Mohamed Bounaji

    The second round was a bit more tense as the games were more competitive. Bilel Bellahcene continued his offbeat openings with 6.h4!? against Abimbola Osunfuyi’s Najdorf Sicilian. The game was an exciting slugfest, but the Algerian GM waded through the maelstrom of complications finishing with a 34.Rf8! shot.

    Ahmed Adly played a master game against the other Nigerian, a motivated Oladapo Adu. That game came out of a “hippopotamus,” an opening increasingly favored by the Grandmaster. In this game he simply had a better understanding and it was a marvel to watch.

    Click to watch!
    Adu-Adly, 12th All-Africa Games (rapid-open)

    Lidet Haile (Ethiopia)
    Photo by Kema Goryaeva

    In the women’s event, most of the favorites won, but there was an interesting game in Nassr-Haile. The Ethiopian was outrated 300 points, but played a fantastic game conjuring up a lightning attack. Nassr took quite a number of risk in allowing 23…Qxa4 going after an exchange. It costed her two pawns… one of them a passed a-pawn.

    As white was trying to recover pawns, she allowed the black queen and knight to coordinate a devastating attack. In the end, Nassr had to return the exchange, but Haile proceeded to gobble all of white’s pawns. It was truly an instructive comeback. In these shortened time controls, it is evident that playing a bit too risky is unwise even if you’re the heavy rating favorite. Great win for Haile!

    Nassr-Haile, 12th All-Africa Games (rapid-women)

    Open (Rapid Chess – Round 2)

    Women (Rapid Chess – Round 2)

    More interesting games in round three. One of the best played games of the third round was Shrook Wafa’s positional masterpiece against Onkemetse Francis. At one point, it was hard for black to move any pieces. This immobilization allowed white to slowly position her pieces in an aggressive stance and then launching an attack at the right time. Notice how white’s knight sat on c5 to disrupt black’s army.

    Click to watch!
    Shrook Wafa-Onkemetse Francis, 12th All-Africa Games (rapid-women)

    While Adly and Amin were coasting to 3/3, Arthur Ssegwanyi of Uganda got a stroke of fortune when he mated Hicham Hamdouchi in a roughly equal position. Moroccan tried to get a mating attack but forgot about an important zwischenzug which mates him with a pawn.

    Open (Rapid Chess – Round 3)

    Women (Rapid Chess – Round 3)

    With a four-way tie for first, the Egyptian GMs took care of business, but the other Ugandan Harold Wanyama was gathering momentum. He won again pushing his score to 3.5/4. Bellahcene continued his unorthodox play. During the mixed team, the Algerian played 1.Nh3 (winning against Adu) and 1…Na6 (losing against Oatlhotse).

    In the second round of this tournament, he tried 6.h4 against the Najdorf (winning against Osunfuyi), an idea having come into vogue at the GM level. Now he plays another offbeat line with 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.b4!? wing gambit which went 3…cxb4 4.d4 d5! It is similar to 1.e4 c5 2.b4?! cxb4 3.a3 d5! The opening caught IM Adlane Arab by surprise. He misplayed it and lost in just 22 moves.

    In the women’s section, the Wafa sisters won smoothly and would be set to play each other in round five. Rapid chess at 15’+10″ is nerve-wrecking. We often arrive at winning positions only to see it fritter away. What must Onkemetse Francis be thinking about her fourth round game. She was a clear knight and pawn up and allowed her opponent to draw the game with no more than a prayer and a hope. Ouch.

    Click to watch!
    Francis-Haile, 12th All-Africa Games (rapid-women)

    Chess can be brutal sometimes. Missed mates are bad, but letting a hard earned win slip away is the worst feeling because of the energy invested.

    Open (Rapid Chess – Round 4)

    Women (Rapid Chess – Round 4)

    FM Abimbola Osunfuyi (Nigeria)
    Photos by Mohamed Bounaji

    In the last round for the day, the top seeded Egyptians (Amin and Adly) agreed to a quick draw in the open section. However, the Wafa sisters showed that they are competitive and played one of the craziest games of the tournament. There were tactics everywhere and three results were always possible. It just so happened that Shahenda Wafa left her queen enprise during the time scramble and Shrook simply snapped it off. Truly bruising battle!

    Kayonde and Bellahcene was also “Fire on Board” as the Algerian seemed to have some initiative. After a few mistakes Kayonde pounced and took over the initiative and getting a winning position. The marvel of this game was that both kings were totally exposed to the pieces zipping around the board. Of course, one has to snare the full point. As we have seen many blunders at this fast time control, anything could happen. This time Kayonde kept his composure and won. By the way, Wanyama won again and he is now in a tied for first on 4.5/5. He will face Adly tomorrow.

    Open (Rapid Chess – Round 5)

    Women (Rapid Chess – Round 5)

    Official Site: (English, French, Arabic)
    Chess: (Schedule)
    Chess-Results: https://chess-results.com/tnr465340.aspx?lan=1&art=2&rd=1
    Chess24: Mixed Rapid (Team), Individual Rapid (Open, Women), Individual Blitz (Open, Women)
    Photos (FIDE): https://www.flickr.com/

  5. All-Africa Games 2019 (Morocco)

    Egypt Double Gold in Rapids!

    National Anthem

    It goes without saying that Egypt remains the “Valley of the Kings and Queens” in chess. In today’s action, they continued their onslaught on the field with Ahmed Adly and Shrook Wafa taking the Open and Women’s titles. However, one could argue that it is no longer a forgone conclusion that Egypt will waltz onto the medal stand and haul the medals back to a triumphant crowd in Cairo.

    Shahenda Wafa faded in the crucial rounds. Photo by Mohamed Bounaji

    In the women’s section, we saw a dominant performance by Shrook Wafa creating a bit of distance by first winning the game against her sister, Shahenda Wafa. This result came as a surprise to some, but these two would rather compete than to agree to prearranged, 10-move draw, which is antithetical to the spirit of competition.

    Even after the loss to her elder sister, Shahenda was still in the second position after six rounds, but then lost to Nigeria’s Toritsemuwa Ofowino which opened the door for several players. Ofowino, Algeria’s Sabrina Letreche and the optimistic player from Zambia, Lorita Mwango were in hot pursuit.

    Lorita Mwango (Zambia) and Toritsemuwa Ofowino. Photo by Mohamed Bounaji/FIDE

    Lorita Mwango (Zambia) and Toritsewuma Ofowino (Nigeria)
    Photo by Mohamed Bounaji/FIDE

    Going into the last round, Shrook Wafa was only one-half point ahead of the field, but had superior tiebreaks. Ofowino’s consecutive wins against Shahenda Wafa and Sabrina Letreche meant someone would need to beat Wafa in order to catch her. That did happen when Wafa lost with the white pieces to Lina Nassr in a massive upset. The Algerian simply outplayed Wafa in every phase of the game in a Sicilian.

    White’s play was questionable and 17.f4 is not in the spirit of the position. Black could’ve won the exchange with 17…Qb6+ (first), but after the text 17…Ng4, black pushed white into a defensive posture. Black established a positional grip by playing 19…a5! and then placed her Godzilla knight on e5. White’s position was in shambles and after 22.Ng3?? engines gave Nassr +7.32 since it loses material to 22…Rb3!

    Click to watch!
    Wafa-Nassr, 12th All-Africa Games (rapid-women)

    Wafa continued on hoping that time would become a factor. Shrook did attempt a snap mate after 29.Qh4 threatening Qh7+! That threat was parried with 29…h6 and black’s position was granite solid. As Shrook tried getting at the black king with 34.f6, Nassr had conjured up a mating net of her own. White had to donate material to stave off mate. All that was left is for the Egyptian to resign and watch the outcome of Mwango-Ofowino. The game between two of the leading Anglophone chess nations was intense!

    Tension had built up to a fever pitch when in an equal position, Ofowino played 24…Nxb2?? There is nothing that would explain this other than chess blindness. It was a clear piece for nothing. The game went 79 moves, but the result was academic. Despite the loss, the Egyptian breathed a sigh of relief after the tertiary tiebreaks determined she was the winner. Mwango would secure the silver and Letreche would get the bronze over Ofowino.

    WFM Lorita Mwango... Untold Stories of Africa

    Zambia’s WFM Lorita Mwango
    Zambia Zambia Zambia

    Highly-regarded in Zambia and respected in the African women’s circuit, Mwango has proven to be one of the elite players on the continent. She came into the individual rapid having won her last four games in the mixed team event. This momentum helped her to gain confidence and remain a medal contender. Zambia is celebrating!

    Algeria’s Sabrina Letreche had lost both of her games to Shahenda Wafa and had a subpar performance in the mixed team, but roared back in the individual rapid closing with a win and getting the bronze. Shrook Wafa has been the star of the women’s event and has suffered only two losses in 18 games thus far (+14-2=2). She adds to her prodigious medal count in her esteemed career. It may very well be that women will have to compete in the open section more frequently to gain the confidence to reach the international titles of FM, IM and GM. It would be great to see at least a few of them competing against the continent’s best.

    Lorita Mwango (Zambia), Shrook Wafa (Egypt) and Sabrina Letreche. Photo by Mohamed Bounaji/FIDE

    Lorita Mwango (Zambia), Shrook Wafa (Egypt), Sabrina Letreche (Algeria)
    Photo by Mohamed Bounaji/FIDE

    Women (Rapid Chess)

    As far as the open section, Ahmed Adly showed his form by decimating the field with +8 only ceding a draw to Bassem Amin. In watching his play, one can see the difference in levels of understanding as the Egyptian routinely outplayed his opponents from all types of positions. Of course Amin is always a threat to win in Africa and got a 8/9 against the rapid field.

    The surprise of the tournament may have been FM Harold Wanyama who had announced his retirement a few years back only to return only months later with renewed vigor. He ended the rapid on 6.5/9 including a win over Moroccan veteran Grandmaster Hicham Hamdouchi.

    Click to watch!
    Hamdouchi-Wanyama, 12th All-Africa Games (rapid-open)

    Wanyama brought up a very sound point when he stated the lack of financial opportunities in African chess. Hopefully under the new administration, there will more investment in the vast continent that possesses no shortage of talent.

    Harold Wanyama about to receive his bronze medal from FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich. FIDE Vice President Mohamed Al-Modiakhi looks on. Photo by Mohamed Bounaji/FIDE

    FM Harold Wanyama about to receive his bronze medal from FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich. FIDE Vice President Mohamed Al-Modiakhi looks on. Photo by Mohamed Bounaji/FIDE

    Open (Rapid Chess)

    Official Site: (English, French, Arabic)
    Chess: (Schedule)
    Chess-Results: https://chess-results.com/tnr465340.aspx?lan=1&art=2&rd=1
    Chess24: Mixed Rapid (Team), Individual Rapid (Open, Women), Individual Blitz (Open, Women)
    Photos (FIDE): https://www.flickr.com/

  6. All-Africa Games 2019 (Morocco)

    Egypt still Valley of Kings and Queens!

    Bassem Amin sings Egyptian anthem.
    Photo by Mohamed Bounaji

    Going into the popular blitz segment, everyone knew the Egyptians would be tough to beat. However, Africa has many strong blitzers throughout the continent and the Internet has made it more popular than ever. Who would be able to unseat the Kings and Queens of African chess? Would it be the Algerians? Zambians? Nigerians? Moroccans? Perhaps there would be a legend created from an less-fancied chess nation. Questions abound. Well.. Bassem Amin would have all the answers.

    To be honest, Amin has proven himself to be in a class by himself having once eclipsed the 2700 mark. In blitz, while speed of moves is important, chess knowledge is paramount. It is so much easier to get into a good flow when one knows exactly what to do. Amin’s 9/9 mark was only blemished by the fact that he couldn’t try for a Bobby Fischer 11/11. He would have to settle for a Robert Gwaze 9/9. Authorities shortened the event the previous day from eleven rounds to nine rounds.

    Of course, Ahmed Adly would be a prime contender to win the “triple crown” and has competed in World Blitz Championships with the best in the world. In this tournament, Adly was slowed by Nigeria’s Oladapo Adu losing badly in round three. This would force him to take chances in order to get onto the medal stand. He would be nicked for a draw in the very next round by Morocco’s Mohamed Tisser. Adly would go on to win five in a row including wins over Hicham Hamdouchi and Bilel Bellahcene. Impressive comeback.

    Tournament of Streaks: Ahmed Adly battling Oladapo Adu. Adly would lose this game, but later win five in a row to clinch the silver. Adu was 3/3, but lost his next three games falling off the medal pace. Photo by Mohamed Bounaji

    Tournament of Streaks: Ahmed Adly battling Oladapo Adu. Adly would lose this game, but later win five in a row to clinch the silver. Adu was 3/3, but lost his next three games falling off the medal pace. Photo by Mohamed Bounaji

    Babatunde Ogunsiku of Africa Chess Media asked about the shortening of the blitz tournament. His rational being that it would be useful to give contenders an optimal change at getting the last medal. It just so happened that in the final standings seven players were on 6/9! Nevertheless, Bilel Bellahcene’s last two wins over Rodwell Makoto and Harold Wanyama got him on the podium with 6.5/9. The other contenders were busy beating each other (and losing to Amin). Another two rounds would have made for a tense conclusion.

    Blitz games are difficult to assess and analyze because of the nature of the games, but of course the strongest players tend to show their experience. The top four players were all Grandmasters. It appears like the future of competitive chess has a bright future in Africa.

    Three events… three gold medals. Shrook Wafa is the only chess player at the All-African Games who can make that claim. She did so in style dropping only three games out of 27 (+22-3=2). Two of those were to Lina Nassr of Algeria, who won a silver (mixed team) and bronze (blitz). Her sister Shahenda Wafa also bagged two medals scoring an impressive 8.5/9 in the team event and silver in the blitz.

    Shahenda Wafa, Shrook Wafa, Lina Nassr. Photo by Mohamed Bounaji

    Shahenda Wafa, Shrook Wafa, Lina Nassr
    Photo by Mohamed Bounaji

    It appears that the balance of power is still firmly in the north, but there are a few cracks in the foundation of North African dominance. While Egypt and Algeria are still the class of the continent, players from countries such as Zambia, Nigeria, Angola, Botswana, and Zimbabwe scored a number of rousing upsets including Linda Shaba’s impressive win over Shahenda Wafa to end the tournament.

    Click to watch!
    Wafa-Shaba, 12th All-Africa Games (rapid-blitz)Wafa-Shaba, 12th All-Africa Games (rapid-blitz)

    Linda Shaba. Photo by Mohamed Bounaji

    Zimbabwe’s Linda Shaba
    Zimbabwe Zimbabwe Zimbabwe

    The New FIDE. Photo by Mohamed Bounaji

    The New FIDE at the 12th All-Africa Games
    Photos by Mohamed Bounaji

    In the end, it was an outstanding event with good conditions and the camaraderie seemed to be everpresent. The photography by Mohamed Bounaji helped convey the spirit of the event. With the attention of FIDE, perhaps there will be an initiative to support African chess development. The typical “Chess in Schools” that Kirsan Ilyumzhinov promised every election campaign is necessary, but not sufficient for cultivating the talent for elite level.

    Thirteen years ago, article appeared on these pages titled, Can Pan-Africanism Work in Chess? There were some suggestions about regional collaboration and using Africa’s genuine appeal for Grandmasters to play in top-level tournaments. After a successful Grand Chess Tour tournament in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, there is proof that it can be done. Are we ready to make this the African Century?

    Open (Blitz Chess)

    Click for full standings

    Women (Blitz Chess)

    Click for full standings

    National Anthem

    Official Site: (English, French, Arabic)
    Chess: (Schedule)
    Chess-Results: https://chess-results.com/tnr465340.aspx?lan=1&art=2&rd=1
    Chess24: Mixed Rapid (Team), Individual Rapid (Open, Women), Individual Blitz (Open, Women)
    Photos (FIDE): https://www.flickr.com/

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