Namibia At Chess Olympiad

Namibia’s national men and women’s teams are in Tromso, Norway for the 41st World Chess Olympiad.

The tournament hosts different countries selectively categorised by their current world ranking, which is primarily based on individual player ratings.

This allows for countries ranked in the top half of the table to compete with other g countries whilst the lower rated countries compete against one another.

A record 177 teams from all over the world are taking part in the open section. Namibia ranks at 117 and is looking to breach the top 100 and hopefully bring home a category medal, according to Namibia Chess Federation president Otto Nakapunda.

The men’s team consists of a g contingent of veteran players in the Open Section and should be able to improve on its last performance in Istanbul, Turkey in 2012.

The women’s event is contested by 139 teams this year. This is only the third time Namibia’s women are taking part following their maiden Games in Turin, Italy, in 2006 and Istanbul, Turkey, in 2012.

All the players took part in the Zonal Individual Chess Championships held in Windhoek in June as part of their preparations.

In addition, Russian Grand Master Igor Glek was in Windhoek when the team camped at Safari Hotel to help with the last phase of preparation.

“The women’s team was fortunate enough to receive sponsorship from Fibresha Investments for the second Olympiad running. The sponsorship which partly covered their tickets made it possible for the NCF to once again send two teams to represent Namibia at the highest and most attended chess tournament in the world,” said Nakapunda.

“A Namibian-owned, all-women fishing company, Fibresha Investments felt the need to come to the aid of chess and fork out N$60 000 to sponsor the female’s team,” Nakapunda added.

“We’d like to sincerely thank our sponsors, Fibresha Investments and Air Namibia, as well the Namibian Government through the Namibia Sports Commission for making this trip possible,” he said.

“We have set high goals including cracking the top 100 getting a category medal as well as getting individual titles for the men. As for the women, we are looking at getting ratings for all the players and possibly women’s chess titles which are not unrealistic targets.”

The men’s team includes Fide Master (FM) Leonhard Mueller (2183 points), Chess Master (CM) Charles Eichab (2048), Max Baron Nitzborn (0), CM Mclean Handjaba (2139), Rex Oberholzer (2099) and captain Otto Nakapunda (2111).

The women’s team has an average rating of zero and consists of Kamutuua Tjatindi, Haufiku Toshi, Rauha Shipindo, Jolly Nepando, and captain El-Shaadai Aluteni.

Namibia brush aside Senegal, hold Jamaica

On Sunday, Namibia’s men’s team recovered from their first round 4-0 defeat to Vietnam in style as they beat Senegal by the same margin.

Max Nitzborn drew first blood when his opponent Al Hassane Wane lost on time while thinking intensely on how to save his trapped bishop.

Charles Eichab was next to record a win. He sacrificed a bishop for two pawns and it wasn’t long before Elhadji Gorgui Gueye returned the bishop, but by then Eichab had an unstoppable attack and the result was never in doubt.

Playing on board one was Leonhard Mueller who had the initiative from move one. But just as he was about to wrap up the game, he blundered and had to work hard to save the game.

In the end, he did just that, by managing to out-think his opponent and got a passed pawn. Sekou Aransbebe Badji then threw in the towel as he couldn’t stop the a-pawn, which was destined to queen promotion.

The task to complete the route fell to McLean Handjaba on board four. He looked to have an easy game but his opponent Mamadou Mbaye Leye came up with several last-ditch responses to keep himself in with a chance.

This in turn forced Handjaba to dig deep and following a bishop versus knight end-game, he emerged victorious.

But the day belonged to the women’s team who held the favoured rivals Jamaica to a 2-all draw.

Kamutuua Tjatindi and Jolly Nepando lost their games on boards 1 and 4 respectively, but wins for Toshi Haufiku against Melissa Smith and Rauha Shipindo against Rachel Miller secured the draw and a valuable point for Namibia. At the previous Olympiad, it took the ladies five rounds to record their first team points.

“This result alone shows our girls can compete with others within the next couple of years. We are all excited at this confidence-boosting result,” stated El-Shadaai Aluteni, the women’s team captain.

What makes the result even more remarkable is that it’s achieved without national champion Nicola Tjaronda and runner-up Lishen Mentile, who both stayed behind due to school commitments.

The men faced Albania while the women were up against the United Arab Emirates later on Monday.

Source : The Namibian