The 2004 African Junior Chess Championships ended on 5th January 2004 with double success for South Africa. 15-year-old Heinrich Stander took the Boys title with a score of 8/9, whilst Jenine Ellapen took the Girls event also with a score of 8/9.
The foundations for Stander’s success were his victories Daniel Jere and Quitman Manda both from Zambia. In each game he appeared to have prepared meticulously for his opponents and never relinquished his acquired early advantages. His fourth round victory over compatriot Daniel Louw was also a crucial point.
Whislt the host nation missed out on the Gold medals in either event, their success in taking the Silver and Bronze medals in the Boys event coupled with the Bronze in the Girls event was more than enough consolation.
Daniel Jere, one of the pre-tournament favorites in picking up the Silver medal emulated his achievement in the 2001 edition of this event, which was coincidentally also held in Lusaka. At that time as a 15-year- old debutant Jere, who came in as a late entry took the Silver behind the illustrious Egyptian Ahmed Adly. This time round Jere had a mini collapse on the fifth day of the event when he lost both his games. His recovery to win his last three games and finish with a score of 7/9 was in itself o worthwhile performance.
The reigning Zambian National Schools Champion, 17-year-old debutant Richmond Phiri, picked up the Bronze medal ahead of Quitman Manda (Zambia) another 17-year-old debutant. Both finished with a score of 6/9 with Phiri having a better tie-break score.
In taking the 2nd to 4th positions, the Zambian juniors proved that it is only a matter of time before the legacy of IM Amon Simutowe bears more fruit.
Notable performances from Providence Oatlhotse of Botswana and Tony Magezi of Uganda who finished with scores of 5.5/9 and 5/9 respectively also showed that whilst Egypt, South Africa and Zambia appear to have ample reservoirs of talent, other countries are not sitting idly. This is a very healthy situation for African Chess.
The debut participation of Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia and Seychelles is a tribute to the commitment of these Federations to the development chess in their countries’ as well as Africa.
Whilst South Africa took both the Gold and Silver medals in the Girls’ section through Jenine Ellappen and Mignon Pretorius respectively, the Zambian girl juniors also matched their male counterparts by taking the next two places. Debutant 15-year-old Cindy Simango took the Bronze medal ahead of compatriot Yvonne Saina.
The performances of Keitumetse Mogkacha of Botswana and Nyasha Nemaungwe of Zimbabwe again demonstrated the growth of the royal game amongst our female players. This surely bodes well for the future.
Both the Boys’ and Girls’ sections had eleven-year old participants. Zambia’s Epah Tembo finished with a score of 3/9 in the Girls’ event, whilst Malawi’s Joseph Mwale’s 1/9 was a commendable achievement in the ultra competitive Boys’ section. In Mwale’s case, the Malawian Chess Federation Chief, Kezzie Msukwa should be commended highly for convincing the parents of Joseph about the positive influence of their child participation in such a crucial tournament. We hope to see more of Joseph at future events.
The Chess Federation of Zambia wishes to thank the FIDE Continental President for Africa, Mr. Nizar Elhaj, for having found time to attend the closing stages of this prestigious tournament.
We also wish to thanks the major sponsors of this event, TELECEL ZAMBIA LIMITED and LAFICO ZAMBIA LIMITED.
The participants and accompanying officials also deserve special commendation for their dedication under the current difficult financial situation prevailing in most African countries.
Good luck to Botswana, the hosts of the 2005 edition of the African Junior Championship.
See you in Gaborone!!!
President of the Chess Federation of Zambia & Organising Committee Chairman