2019 African Junior Championship (Accra, Ghana)

Africa rounds out the year showcasing its young talent as the African Junior Championship opens on October 25th. The hotbed of draughts (10×10 checkers) on continent, West Africa is one of the regions looking to increase its profile in chess.

Ghana has had a very active 2015 hosting the subzonal championships in April and attracting 54 players. That tournament was won by Nigeria’s IM Daniel Anwuli who was once a participant in the African Juniors. This tournament will be headlined by GM Adham Fawzy the top-seed who incidentally won the 2018 edition in Kampala, Uganda. WIM Anika Du Plessis of South Africa won the Girls competition.

GM Adham Fawzy

GM Adham Fawzy
Photo by https://ajedreztricolor.com.ve/

The Egyptian will be looking to defend his title in Accra and one of his closest challengers will be his brother Kandil, an International Master. He is the third seed. Madagascar will make a strong bid with IM Fy Rakotomaharo who won the 4.3 subzonal tournament with an impressive 8/9 score. Second-seed Rakotomaharo will be looking to affirm his status as one of the brightest talents to emerge in recent years.

Ghana Chess Federation President Philip Ameku has been blazing the chess trails and has succeeded in putting Ghana in a leadership position in the region. This will be the first time that the event has been hosted in West Africa. It is an opportune moment for players in the region to make an impression. In an interview with Africa Chess Media, he stated:

I saw this as a unique opportunity for the Ghanaian and of course West African chess players, because if you observe, you would realize that federations from our zone especially, find it difficult travelling to Southern Africa or Northern Africa to participate in tournaments. Therefore hosting this tournament is a way of giving our players that kind of exposure and opportunity.

In fact, the Ivory Coast is sending seven players, all of who received training earlier this month from GM Maurice Ashley. Ghana also received the world-famous Grandmaster. Perhaps the Grand Chess Tour event and the accompanying West African tournament can be seen as a type of catalyst for this year’s success.

Philip Ameku (President, Ghana Chess), Angela Ayiku (Ghana), Christiana Naa Merley Ashley (Vice President, Ghana Chess), Daaim Shabazz (The Chess Drum) and Ogunsiku Babatunde (Africa Chess Media) during the Grand Chess Tour Rapid and Blitz in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. The spirit of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah lives on! Photo by The Chess Drum

In fact, the problem with travel and the vastness of the African continent may be why there is not maximum participation. While events like the 2019 All-Africa Games put chess in the spotlight, continental events still struggle to get a majority of the federations to send players. On the bright side, the African Championships held this year was the strongest in history and this tournament will prove to be a valuable training ground to get to the next level.

In fact, the Ivory Coast is sending seven players, all of whom received training earlier this month from GM Maurice Ashley. Ghana has twice hosted the world-famous Grandmaster and is setting in motion expansion of chess in the ECOWAS region.

Ivory Coast completed the training with GM Ashley and will be prepared to make an impression in Ghana. Photo courtesy of FIDEC

Eleven nations and 41 players will compete at the tourney. Interestingly enough, many of the top federations around the continent did not send players. A surprise omission would be South Africa. Nevertheless, there will be fierce competition and players will be looking to increase their rating, earn norms and perhaps earn a higher FIDE title.

Algeria (2 players) Angola (2 players) Botswana (1 player) Egypt (2 players) Ghana (11 players) Ivory Coast (7 players) Libya (2 players) Madagascar (1 player) Nigeria (10 players) Sao Tome Principe (1 player) Togo (2 players)

Standings (Open, Girls)
Coverage: (The Chess Drum, Africa Chess Media, Kenya Chess Masala)

Daaim Shabazz

Dr. Daaim Shabazz is the creator and webmaster of The Chess Drum. He serves as a tenured faculty member of Global Business & Marketing at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, USA. He holds an MBA in Marketing and a doctorate in International Affairs & Development. He has served the journalist community for more than 30 years and still competes in tournaments occasionally.

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  1. Ivorians ready for 2019 African Juniors

    Today, seven youths from the Ivory Coast will trek to neighboring country of Ghana to compete in the 2019 African Junior Championships. The past several years have seen the Ivory Coast take substantial steps toward relevancy in the chess world.

    At the 2014 Chess Olympiad in Tromso, Norway, the Ivorian delegation make an impression with their orange accented outfits and the fiery activism of their President, Dr. Essis Essoh. At this point, Essoh and his executive staff already had big plans for the future growth of Ivorian chess.

    Ivorian delegation (Charles Lorng, Privat Kouakou, Essoh Essis)
    in Tromso, Norway for the 2014 Chess Olympiad
    Photo by Daaim Shabazz

    Fast forward four years, the Federation Ivoirienne Des Echecs known as “FIDEC” organized a novel event called the 2018 Cote d’Ivoire Invitational featuring 10 of Africa’s top players. It was that event that led to FIDEC hosting the world class Grand Chess Tour event featuring World Champion Magnus Carlsen and several of the world’s top 10 players.

    Momentum was maintained when FIDEC held a number of tournaments, Lorng launched the MiniChess franchise and had GM Maurice Ashley to come in and conduct training sessions. The last session was to prepare the juniors for the championship in Accra which started today.

    Ivory Coast

    Ivorian Juniors heading for Accra, Ghana!

    The following players will be traveling for the 2019 African Junior Championships (Accra, Ghana)

    Aroll Junior Foua (19)
    Ange Kouame (19)
    Yao Aubin Maximilien Tanoe (18)
    Yowel Madeleine Lorng (17)
    Amin Richard Branch (14)
    Tchetche Marie Yavo (14)
    Elijah Pharell Niamkey (12)

    Trainer: Francklin Kouya

    The event will run through November 3rd and will feature 41 players from 11 nations. All of the Ivoirian players will be looking to get a FIDE rating or enhance the ones they currently have. There are also opportunities for the FIDE titles. The Ivorian Elephants will be ready! Bonne chance!

    Standings (Open, Girls)

  2. Round #1:
    African Juniors kicks off! Heated battles, but favorites prevail

    Philip Ameku, President of Ghana Chess Association

    There will be a lot of determined players looking to make their marks!
    Nigeria’s Issac Okeke is one of them.

    OPEN

    Standings (OPEN)

    GIRLS

    Standings (GIRLS)

    Luzia Pires had a tough battle despite being heavily favored.
    Photos by Babatunde Ogunsiku

    Photos by Babatunde Ogunsiku

  3. African Juniors 2019 going down to the wire!

    FM Massinas Djabri winning over the front runner makes things more interesting. Photo by Babatunde Ogunsiku (African Chess Media)

    Accra, Ghana has just gotten a bit hotter from the excitement of the penultimate round. The Open is wide open as the frontrunner Fy Rakotomaharo (2428) was beaten by Algerian FIDE Master Massinas Djabri (2134) in perhaps the biggest upset of the tournament. With the loss, Rakotomharo fell into 2nd place after leading the tournament since the beginning.

    GM Adham Fawzy (2478), who lost to Adham Kandil (2309) in round 6, soared back into joint first with an unlikely partner in Nigeria’s Issac Okeke (2007). Both won their games over Abdallah Alfaitori (1919) and Filipe Marco (2121) respectively. The Egyptian Grandmaster will have the “easiest” pairing in the finale and has the tiebreak advantage having beaten Okeke. The Nigerian will face the giant-killer in Djabri. He has already scored a solid tournament (+5) and a win would secure him a medal. As far as Rakotomharo, he will be facing Jonathan “Joeboy” Oyelabi of Nigeria.

    Angola's Luiza Pires on the verge of taking the crown back to Luanda. Photo by Babatune Ogunsiku

    Angola’s Luzia Pires on the verge of taking the crown back to Luanda.
    Photo by Babatunde Ogunsiku

    The girls’ competition will also go down to the wire as top-seed and frontrunner Luiza Pires of Angolan has been holding down board 1 since the first round. As is common in such small tournaments, the later rounds are usually mismatches between players of different point categories. Pires, on 7/8 will be playing Ivorian Yowel Lorng who has 2.5 points.

    Pires has played all of the other contenders and has only given up draws to Algeria’s Chahrazed Djerroud and Togo’s Ivana DeSouza. The surprise of the tournament may the Djerroud who has only lost one game! She will face Ghana’s Maud Benson who has also had a strong showing.

    Botswana's Refilwe Gabatshwarwe celebrating her 14th birthday!

    Refilwe Gabatshwarwe celebrating her 14th birthday with Botswana Chess Federation President, Mothokomedi Thabano, Ghana Chess Federation Vice President, Christiana Naa Merley Ashley and Chief Arbiter, IA Ogbonnaya Obinna

    Luiza needs a draw to get the gold medal. Even if Djerroud wins, the Angolan will get the gold on tiebreaks. Botswana’s Refilwe Gabatshwarwe, who just celebrated her 14th birthday, still has a chance to vie for the silver medal.

    Emmanuella Trust Enomah of Nigeria has had a decent tournament losing only to Pires and Djerroud. She currently holds the 4th position and needs to win her last game to have a chance at a medal. Djerroud holds the head-to-head tiebreak over Enomah, but if Gabatshwarwe suffers an upset loss then the winner of the bronze medal would most likely be decided by a few tiebreak points.

    It has been a good tournament for the young stars. There were no Egyptian girls playing in this tournament so it leaves room for new faces to emerge. The tournament has been an initiation party for West African players. Togo’s Ivana De Souza (4.5/8), Ghana’s Maud Benson (4.5/8), and Ivory Coast’s Tchetche Marie Yavo (4/8) had creditable results.

    It will be an exciting finish tomorrow will medals hanging in the balance!

    2019 African Juniors Championship (Open) - Round 9

    2019 African Juniors Championship (Girls) - Round 9

    Standings: (Open, Girls)
    Coverage: (The Chess Drum, Africa Chess Media, Kenya Chess Masala)

  4. Fawzy, Pires win titles at 2019 African Juniors!

    The 2019 African Junior Championship was an exciting event with the results very much in doubt until the last round. In general, the tournament is usually dominated by a singular talent, but in this year’s event, the top-seeds had to hold off the competition until the very end.

    WFM Luzia Pires (Angola) and GM Adham Fawzy (Egypt) holding aloft their championship trophies. Photo by Ghana Chess Federation

    This year’s events were won by GM Adham Fawzy of Egypt and WFM Luzia Pires of Angola. Adham had to rally to nip the competition with three consecutive wins at the end. He successfully defended his 2018 title. Pires dominated the event, leading throughout and yielding only two draws.

    Angola has been a consistent incubator of African talent since the late 1980s. At one time, they wielded five International Masters when few African federations had no titlists. IM Manuel Mateus was one such promising junior player and while there was no African Junior Championship during his time, he began a winning Angolan tradition.

    IM Pedro Aderito won in 1993, IM Roberto Erikson twice (2011, 2012), IM David Silva three times (2014, 2015, 2017). For the girls, WIM Caxita Esperanca won the African Girls three times (2013, 2014, 2016) and now Luzia Pires will add her name to the rolls of champions.

    MEDALS

    OPEN

    GOLD- GM Adham Fawzy (Egypt)
    Egypt

    SILVER- IM Fy Rakotomaharo (Madagascar)
    Madagascar

    BRONZE – FM Massinas Djabri (Algeria)
    Algeria

    WOMEN

    GOLD – WFM Luzia Pires (Angola)
    Angola

    SILVER – Chahrazed Djerroud (Algeria)
    South Africa

    BRONZE – WCM Refilwe Gabatshwarwe (Botswana)
    Botswana

    OPEN

    Adham Fawzy was the only Grandmaster in the field and was coasting until round six when he took a loss to Adham Kandil. IM Fy Rakotomaharo had sole possession of 1st place for a couple of rounds, but was defeated in the penultimate round by FM Massinas Djabri.

    Nigeria’s Issac Okeke was in joint 1st (with Fawzy) going into the last round, but lost to Djabri and was left off the medal stand. While West Africa is beginning to make a push, it will take a determined effort to see the type of progress needed to consistently compete for medals.

    After Fawzy’s lost in round six, it was big news. We usually get excited at upset victories or the fact that Goliath was defeated. There was anticipation for a breakthrough by an unheralded player. Nevertheless, Fawzy won his last three games while other front-runners beat each other in the process. So, Egypt stood atop the medal stand once again as they had in the African Championships and the All-Africa Games.

    Standings (OPEN)

    L-R: IM Fy Rakotomaharo (Madagascar), GM Adham Fawzy (Egypt)
    FM Massinas Djabri (Algeria)

    Egypt
    National Anthem

    GIRLS

    Luzia Pires went as “Luzia” the entire tournament. This misspelling of her name did not deter her from holding onto the top table for the entire tournament and winning her first African championship. As a result, she will earn a title promotion and continue the national history of winning national juniors.

    Pires won the event with an undefeated 8/9 and was able keep her composure and beat her ambitious rivals. One of the threats was Chahrazed Djerroud (1456) of Algeria who pulled into joint 1st in round two after beating Emmanuella Trust Enomah (1924). Pires and Djerroud drew in round four, but the Algerian would fall to Refilwe Gabatshwarwe of Botswana in round five. It would be Djerroud’s only loss. She ended on 7.5/9, but was unable to compete for the gold.

    Gabatshwarwe, who celebrated her 14th birthday during the tournament, lost only to Pires in round three and drawing with Enomah for her 7.5/9 tally. She earned the bronze medal. It turns out that despite beating Djerroud in the head-to-head battle, her competition had a slightly lower average rating (1st tiebreak). It is interesting that they used the average rating of opposition instead of the direct head-to-head outcome as the first tiebreak since it was such a small field.


    Standings (GIRLS)

    L-R: Chahrazed Djerroud (Algeria), Luzia Pires (Angola)
    Refilwe Gabatshwarwe (Botswana)

    Angola
    National Anthem


    Drum Coverage: https://www.thechessdrum.net/blog/2019/10/23/2019-african-junior-championship-accra-ghana/

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