Will Africa's Next GM be from Nigeria?
Nigeria Nigeria Nigeria

"Nigeria Set to Produce First Chess Grandmaster," Vanguard, 19 December 2003 (Lagos, Nigeria).

If all goes according to plan, Nigeria will soon have her first Chess grandmaster. This information was revealed to Sports Vanguard by the chairman of the Nigerian Chess Federation (NCF), Theophilus Caifas who said that the NCF has mapped out a five-year plan with the aim of producing the country's first FIDE rated grandmaster.

"We are working on the problem," says Caifas, adding that "presently there are only two grandmasters in Africa, one each from Tunisia and Morocco. We are a little behind these North Africans in terms of Chess development, but we are gradually closing the gap.

Right now Nigeria has about five International Masters which is the stepping stone to the ultimate one. Within the next five years, I hope to produce a Nigerian grandmaster."

For one to become a grandmaster you have to win three grandmaster norms and you can only do this in a FIDE recognized tournament with many grandmasters in attendance. We don't have such a tournament in Africa, and that means that profe the federation has to send these players abroad.

The problem is that Nigerians cannot play Chess professionally for now. We have not gotten to the stage where one has to depend on Chess as his sole means of livelihood. The harsh economic conditions cannot allow our players such luxury. That's why it has been very difficult. But we are going to achieve that aim, in the nearest possible future," the Chess boss enumerated.

Caifas emphasized the need for corporate bodies to be involved in the development of the game in Nigeria." Well I must commend the Nigerian Breweries for their dedication throughout these years.

Editor's Note: Actually there are three Grandmasters from Africa… Slim Bouaziz of Tunisia was the first; Hichem Hamdouchi of Morocco was next and is Africa's highest-rated player in history. Tunisia's Slim Belkhodja is the most recent GM.

Posted by The Chess Drum: 22 December 2003