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 (Algeria), Adham Fawzy (Egypt), Bassem Amin (Egypt)
and Ahmed Adly (Egypt) 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.
If indeed the so called Fair Play commission was working in a fair manner then I think this event shouldn’t be given the status of AICC cos the numbers for the host Nation defeats the who purpose of AICC being the cream dela cream of ACC events. This is purely Egypt Open Chess Championship and not AICC.
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.
Photo by Adnane Nesla