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IM Robert Gwaze and WIM Mona Khaled are crowned as the new African Championships. FIDE Vice-President Lewis Ncube offers official congratulations.Copyright  2007 Namibian Chess Federation.

IM Robert Gwaze and WIM Mona Khaled are crowned as the new African Championships. FIDE Vice-President Lewis Ncube offers official congratulations. Copyright © 2007 Namibian Chess Federation.

IM Robert Gwaze has won the hotly-contested 2007 African Individual Championship with an undefeated 7-2. Gwaze started the tournament with five straight wins bringing back shades of his 9-0 romp at the 2002 Chess Olympiad in Bled, Slovenia. That performance earned him a gold medal and put him in the Olympiad history books. In a Zimbabwe Herald article he was quoted, "This is the toughest tournament in Africa I have ever played. The victory is for my country, my teammates and my future."

WIM Mona Khaled won the women's competition in what was a dominating performance. The 13-year old Khaled won six consecutive games and finished on 8/9 losing only to runner-up Anzel Solomons of South Africa. In 2005, Khaled was the 2005 African Girls' Champion and recently won a gold medal at the 9th All-Africa Games. With her victory, she earns the Women's Grandmaster (WGM) title and joins WGM Tuduetso Sabure of Botswana, who was the reigning champion.

In this tournament Gwaze's lead proved insurmountable as the Zimbabwean was aided by upset victories dealt to the Egyptians and a fortuitous win over GM-elect Amon Simutowe  in round five. Gwaze offered Simutowe a quick draw, but the Zambia decided to go the distance and Gwaze emerged triumphant in an exciting battle involving a queen sacrifice. Gwaze closed out the tournament with four draws and claimed the championship crown with a 7-2 score. Bloggers at The Chess Drum were excited at the fact that another son of Africa is rising on the heels of Simutowe's final GM norm.

IM Pedro Aderito of Angola has a strong tournament and placed at the top of four players with 6-3 and will make his first trip to the FIDE World Cup. Chess strength Africa still lies with Egypt as four Egyptians will make the trip to Elista, Russia. GM Ahmed Adly played a "Swiss Gambit" by losing his first two games and then winning six straight. He qualifies along with Egyptian compatriots GM Bassem Amin, IM Essam El-Gindy and FM Khaled Abdel-Razik.

IM Robert Gwaze. Copyright  2001, Cathy Rogers.

IM Robert Gwaze
2007 African Champion
(Photo by Cathy Rogers)

Abdel-Razik was part of a four-player tiebreak with GM Slim Belkhodja (Tunisia), GM-elect Amon Simutowe (Zambia) and IM Walaa Sarwat (Egypt).  Simutowe defeated Belkhodja 2-0 while Abdel-Razik defeated Sarwat 2-0. Simutowe faced Abdel-Razik and theplayers split two games. The tiebreak would go to blitz game (with draw odds) and the Egyptian took the match 1-.

The women's competition had no real surprises, but Nigeria's
Doris Omoragbon scored 5-3 and beat WFM Boikhutso Mudongo in the first round. This competion turned out to be a two-woman race as Solomons bolted out into the lead and appeared to be on the verge to winning. Khaled then went on a winning streak and would never be caught.

Fourteen federations were represented and it appears as the emergence of Gwaze and Aderito (in lieu of
Watu Kobese's absence) has fired the imagination of players in the sub-Saharan region. Simutowe's GM feat served as a lightening rod of inspiration for the African players (including Gwaze). Congratulations African Champions!!

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Posted by The Chess Drum: 12 September 2007

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