The event has registered players from close to 15 African countries who are all expected to arrive this weekend. According to the organisers, the competition is poised to be the continent’s most exhilarating and competitive chess event for this year.
Under the auspices of the African Chess Confederation (ACC), the Namibia Chess Federation (NCF) will be showcasing Africa’s crème de la crème as from the December 12-23. The Federation agreed late this year to host the championship despite the short notice. President, Otto Nakapunda tenaciously maintained that the NCF would make it a success.
Nakapunda said the Federation was very confident and in a buoyant mood to welcome some of Africa’s best chess players to Windhoek. He said the tournament comes just after hosting the Zone 4.3 Chess Championship held in the capital in June this year and will thus not be a new experience for him and the organising team.
Players at this year’s championship will grill each other for a whopping US$27 500 (N$315 975.00) cash prize for the top 8 in the open section and top 7 in the female section. Apart from the cash prizes the chess masterminds will also be sweating unimaginably for the Grand Master (GM) and Women Grand Master (WGM) titles that will be awarded by the world chess body – FIDE, to the overall winner of each category.
Countries that have confirmed their participation include Sao Tome & Principe, Ghana, Libya, Namibia, Botswana, Togo, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Algeria, Seychelles, and Malawi. Among these Egypt, Nigeria, Zambia and South African have the largest contingents and are all favourites to claim the big prizes.
Top seed players from the female section comprise Algeria’s WIM Mezioud Amina, Egypt’s WGM Wafa Shrook and South Africa’s WIM Frick Denise. In the tightly packed open segment, Egypt’s GM Adly Ahmed, and GM El Gindy Essam and Algeria’s GM Haddouche Mohamed all lead the pack as likely winners.
The NCF employed some of the country’s best players to take-part in this event. The Namibian team includes; Candidate Master (CM) McLean Handjaba, the 2013 national champion Goodwill Khoa, junior champion Immanuel Gariseb, national female champion Nicola Tjaronda, Mentile Lishen, Tjatindi Kamutuua and CM Jolly Nepando. Absentees from the Namibian lineup include mainly veteran players in the likes of Swiss based 2014 National Champion, Leonard Mueller, Sanders Oberholzer, Simon Shidolo and Max Nitzborn.
One of the players, Immanuel Gariseb is currently participating in the African Junior Championships being held in Angola and is said to return in-form to compete by the start of Round 1 on Saturday.
Namibian National chess coach, Charles Eichab said the youthful male and female players nominated to compete have been training hard and should attain good results and very good FIDE ratings from this tournament.