Monday, 02 December 2019 00:00

The National U16 chess team that included two primary school students returned home on November 28, 2019, through Kamuzu International Airport after finishing fourth in Teyateyaneng, Lesotho.

At exactly 14:45 C.A.T., the Ethiopian Airline ET 021 kissed the runway as the plane glided along the ground, to a complete halt.

The squad competed at the Zone 4.5 tournament which registered six teams, the hosts featuring three. The five-member Malawi team comprised three boys Khwima Gondwe and Praise Salima, both from Chichiri Secondary School and Quincy Mukhwapa from Blantyre Baptist Academy.


However, a move that caught the eye of the chess fraternity was the inclusion of thirteen  year-olds  Clara Mtumbuka and Shalom Kapende of Lilongwe Demonstration and Kamuzu Barracks primary schools respectively. Mtumbuka played two games while Kapende played three games and both won a game apiece.
The best individual performance for Team Malawi came through Mukhwapa who won two, drew two, and lost one, out of the five games he played. He finished on three points.

Praise Salima was second best, scoring two points out of five, while experienced Khwima Gondwe failed to register a win.
In an interview, one of the highest titled player in the country, Woman Fide Master (WFM) Linda Chaononga said the inclusion of girls from conventional primary schools is a sign that the game is broadening. She observed that exposing young girls to international events will help nurture the youngsters for a strong National senior team in future.

Fide Master Gerald Mphungu contended that Chessam needs to develop chess from the grassroot level."This will motivate not only Clara and Shalom, but also other primary students. Iam sure that we will produce more Masters if students are motivated through such international events" said Mphungu.
Leader of delegation Magret Ngugama who accompanied the team said the youngsters put up a gallant fight, since all of them except Gondwe, were competing internationally for the first time.

Ngugama who is the National Schools Chess Coordinator alluded that there is need for more time to groom the kids and emphasized the FIDE (World Chess Federation) motto on schools chess, which states "chess as a tool for education"
Meanwhile Chessam President Susan Namangale who earlier confirmed her presence at KIA failed to make it due to a tight schedule. She delegated Chessam Treasurer Vitumbiko Gondwe.

This was the first time the U16 was participating in a regional team event. Sports Council provided the financial logistics. Platinum Hotel in Area 12 offered accomodation to the team on the eve of flight departure a week ago.

By: Chimthere Alfred
(Chessam Publicist)

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