2005 African Jrs.: Controversy Answered

The chess world appears to be mired in controversy at all levels. The African continent seems to be afflicted with "FIDE-itis" after two Zambian players claimed that pairings at the African Junior Championship were fixed to benefit a player from the host nation Botswana. Kenneth Boikhutswane answered these charges and other complaints of Leah Phiri and Cindy Simango in an interesting article in Mmegi/The Reporter.

The issue came when Botswana's
Ontiretse Sabure was paired with Zimbabwe's Tafada Munezvenyu who had been mired at the bottom of the field. Sabure dispatched of Munezvenyu to take the silver medal and an IM norm while both Phiri and Simango were paired together. They drew and had to be content with seeing their compatriots Yvonne Saina and Epah Tempo take 3rd-4th. Boikhutswane contends that the pairings were made difficult given that Zambia fielded four of the eleven players. International Arbiter Webster Kafumbwe used both computer and manual pairings and the arbiter's staff concurred with the pairings.

Ironically, a similar controversy plagued the
African Individual Championships in Zambia when GM Slim Belkhodja (Tunisia) and IM Aimen Rizouk (Algeria) disagreed with the rule that players from the same country were not to be paired in the last two rounds (if possible). Such a rule was said to benefit the Egyptians who were occupying the top positions in the tournament. GM Ahmed Adly (Egypt) protested that the decision had already been made prior to the tournament. In the African Junior, Phiri and Simango also felt that players of the same federation should not face each other. The Botswana case is being investigated.

"No Match Fixing at Africa Junior Chess Championships," Mmegi/The Reporter, 30 December 2005.

Posted by The Chess Drum: 8 January 2006