Zambia Zambia Zambia

Dear Drum Community,

In the past  several years, there has been  a number of positive developments coming from Africa. However, there is a serious crisis when in comes to harnessing talent in the sub-Saharan region. The continent has produced only five Grandmasters all of from the Saharan region: Tunisia's
Slim Bouaziz, Morocco's Hichem Hamdouchi, Tunisia's Slim Belkhodja and the Egyptian duo of Ahmed Adly and Bassem Amin. The proximity to Europe provides these players with some viable options to play strong competition. In fact Bouaziz, Hamdouchi and Belkhodja are residents in France.

South of the Sahara, there has been inconsistency in the development of talent and many of the top players have become accomplished through sheer talent and determination. Players like South Africa's Watu Kobese rose majestically like an African lion, but he has not received the requisite support after making an impression among the world's top players. The lack of sponsorship has retarded the progress of the first world class player in Black Africa. While Kobese still holds onto to his dreams, another talented player emerged… Amon Simutowe of Zambia.

IM Amon Simutowe at 2005 HB Global Chess Tournament. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

IM Amon Simutowe

As a mere teenager, Simutowe became famous for completely destroying African opposition at every level. He came within a hair of winning the World Junior in 2000 and has competed in the World Championship cycle thrice. He has gained the respect of a number of the game's top brass. One question that has surfaced is "Why isn't Simutowe a Grandmaster?" Having two GM norms and having beaten countless GMs, he has proven that he can play at high levels.

Now 25 and a college graduate, Simutowe is making a tough decision about his future in chess. In the past, he has sought coaching assistance, but did not succeed. Without assistance, one of the brightest stars in the history of African chess could end his quest for the GM title… at least in the short term. In accomplishing the GM title, Simutowe would be a historic figure and be a huge inspiration to Zambia, the continent of Africa and the entire Black world.

With so many negative images painting a bleak picture of Africa, Simutowe gives credence to the term, "African Intellectual" and can become an appropriate chess ambassador. To accomplish the GM title, Simutowe would need help in getting conditions for competitive tournaments. FIDE made campaign pledges to assist in the development of African chess and it is time that this idea bore fruit.

Dr. Daaim Shabazz, The Chess Drum

Posted by The Chess Drum:  21 March 2007