2023 African Individual Championships
The 2023 African Individual Chess Championships (AICC) are currently taking place in Egypt at Hor Moheb Hotel in the historic town of Giza. There are 17 African federations along with five South African players playing under the African Chess Confederation banner. Seven Grandmasters lead the field of 71 players in the Open (44 Egyptian) and 32 in the Women’s field. The Egyptian hosts touted the top three players in each section with GM Bassem Amin and WGM Shrook Wafa holding the top seeds.
Early action in the ancient city!
Egypt has dominated the continent and has not let up since the first tournament in 1998 won by International Master Ibrahim Labib. In fact, since 2003, Egypt has won all but two. Amin has six titles (2009, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2022) while Ahmed Adly has won four (2005, 2011, 2019, 2021). Egyptians Essam El-Gindy (2003), Abdelrahman Hesham (2016) took the crown while Zimbabwe’s Robert Gwaze (2007) and South Africa’s Kenny Solomon (2014) also climbed the highest podium.
Some in social media have called this the “Egyptian Chess Open.” While the majority of the participants are from the host country, the financial hurdles may prove to be too high for some federations. This ignited a debate on WhatsApp groups about increased FIDE support for future AICC tournaments. There was an initial observation by Algerian participant Bilel Bellahcene about the conditions of the hotel. The video was apparently taken in an area of the hotel undergoing renovation. It is not clear from the video that the area was off-limits to normal guests.
To be fair, it would have been hard for the organizers to predict this disturbance at the time the arrangements were made. In hindsight, it would have been ideal to have it at another venue, but perhaps inspections were done well before any construction had begun. Deposits are made well in advance and certainly, a refund would not have been forthcoming. Nevertheless, the playing venue looks fine.
Interestingly enough, most of the champions from the last 20 years are playing except for Egypt’s Essam El-Gindy and Zimbabwe’s Robert Gwaze, the darling of the 2002 Olympiad in Bled. Which new player is ready to make a breakthrough? Will Amin and Adly continue their dominance or will a young talent emerge? Thus far, Amin has suffered a 4th round loss to GM Bilel Bellahcene of Algeria. Bellahcene switched from France to Algeria several years ago and has been a mainstay in the AICC. The top three qualify for the World Cup.
Will Amin make a comeback? Will the Egyptian women continue their onslaught on the African field? Follow the action at the links below!
AICC Results: Open, Women
2023 African Individual Chess Championships (AICC)https://t.co/Kzq6wgAKWA#2023AICC #Chess #23DaysToGo #ACC #FIDEWorldCupQualifiers #Giza #Egypt ??— African Chess Confederation (@AfricanChessCon) April 12, 2023
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Adham Fawzy wins
2023 African Individual Chess Championship!
Fawzy wins African Championship!
Adham Fawzy was a surprise winner of the 2023 African Individual Chess Championship (AICC) held in Giza, Egypt. The 23-year-old Grandmaster scored an undefeated 8/9. He was followed by Grandmaster Bilel Bellahcene of Algeria and Bassem Amin of Egypt both of who had 7.5/9. Amin was upset by the Algerian and drew with Ahmed Adly who ended on 7/9.
Bilel Bellahcene, Adham Fawzy, Bassem Amin and Ahmed Adly
will represent Africa in the 2023 World Cup
Photo by Egyptian Chess Federation
Fawzy recently posted pictures from his pilgrimage to Mecca and may have felt added motivation and intention coming into the event. Yielding on two draws to Adly and GM Abdelrahman Hesham he headlined Egyptian domination the host nation took 12 out of the top 15 positions in the tournament. The other two non-Egyptians in that group were GM Kenny Solomon (South Africa) and IM Andrew Kayonde (Zambia). Solomon was playing under the African Chess Confederation flag given sanctions placed by FIDE.
A survey of the games found a number of incomplete scores. There were also several miniatures including an uncharacteristic blunder from the top seed. Was there a relay error?
Nassr tops Women’s Section!
In the women’s competition, it was Lina Nassr who took the title over a diverse field of 32 players from 13 countries. Despite losing to Egyptian veteran Mona Khaled, she had a steady tournament while her fellow frontrunners lost at least two games. In fact, many of Nassr’s competitors were busy beating each other which gave her an opportunity to take the title. She clinched the title with a draw against Angola’s Jemima Paulo who had a strong tournament (+25.2 Elo).
Khaled and former African champion Sabrina Latreche took silver and bronze respectively. Algeria had the most successful tournament carrying only five players in their delegation and taking three medals (1 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze).
ACC President Tshepiso Lopang (left) congratulates the Algerian delegation.
Lina Nassr hoists her championship trophy.
Photo by Adnane Nesla
There were some fierce complaints during the event about housing at the AICC. Bellahcene posted a video of the hotel early in the tournament that made it appear as if the hotel was under renovation. There was also a matter of the games not being broadcast live. However, the larger complaint was that at a continental championship, you would have so many Egyptian players competing. Typically each federation would send their national champion or zonal qualifying players. However, Egypt had 42 players in the Open and 14 in the Women’s section.
On an African WhatsApp group, Kiddy Makwaya had some strong words.
For the 2023 World Cup, there are four qualifying spots for the African continent including a player from the top 60 (Amin) and the three top players from the continental championship (Fawzy, Bellahcene, Adly). In the past, African players have also qualified through the Arab Championship, which opened up a slot for another African player.
There needs to be a revisiting of the ACC regulations on how many players the host nation is allowed. One answer being offered was five, but there was mention of a waiver for the host nation to field an additional number of under-16 players. Nevertheless, we will report any such confirmations from the ACC President Tshepiso Lopang or her designee.
AICC Results: Open, Women
Photo by Adnane Nesla