Top Chess Players in Namibia

The top regional chess tournament, the Zone 4.3 Individual Chess Championships got underway at the Safari Hotel in Windhoek on Monday and will continue through till next Monday, 30 June.

Players from seven southern African countries are participating in the tournament which will see the winners qualifying for the 2015 Chess World Cup while also receiving valuable international ranking points.

According to the president of the Namibia Chess Federation (NCF), Otto Nakapunda, Namibia was selected to host the tournament after last year’s tournament in Botswana.

“When we finished the Zone 4.3 championships in Botswana last year, the zonal president Tshepo Sitale asked if we could host it this year. It was a wonderful opportunity and we jumped at the chance,” he said.

“This is a milestone for Namibian chess and it has reinvigorated the game in Namibia,” he added.

The NCF received sponsorship of US$10 000 from the World Chess Federation, (FIDE), while the world body also donated 25 chess clocks and 50 chess sets for the tournament.

The participating countries are responsible for their own travelling arrangements but the NCF sponsors the accommodation and meals for one male and one female player of each country.

According to Nakapunda some of the top players from the southern African region arrived in Windhoek to compete in the tournament.

In the Men’s Open competition, they include top South African players Deon Solomons and the current South African champion, Donovan van den Heever Amorim Agnelo from Mozambique and the up-and-coming Zambian player Kelvin Chumfwa.

Namibia has entered six players in the men’s competition, while its hopes are pinned on Leonard Muller and Charles Eichab, who came first and second respectively at the Namibian Closed Championships in April this year.

Namibia’s other participants are Mclean Handjaba, Rex Oberholzer, Simon Shidolo and Goodwill Khoa.

Some of the favourites in the women’s competition include South Africa’s top ranked player Denise Frick and Sune du Toit, and Namibia’s Michelle Fisher.

Namibia’s chances of success were however dealt a blow when Nicola Tjaronda and Lishen Mentile had to withdraw from the women’s competition due to studies.

“We were pinning our hopes on the Namibian 2014 champion Nicola Tjaronda and the runner-up Lishen Mentile, but they are still in school and unfortunately cannot participate due to school commitments. Their withdrawal has significantly reduced our chances,” Nakapaunda said.

After the first two rounds of play yesterday, Kelvin Chumfwa and Amorim Agnelo were leading the Men’s Open category with two points each.

Namibia’s Mclean Handjaba was one of four players sharing second spot on 1,5 points each, with the others being Donovan van den Heever of South Africa, Barileng Gaealafshwe of Botswana and Luciano Oliveira of Mozambique.

They were followed by eight players on one point each, including Namibia’s Leonard Muller and Charles Eichab.

In the women’s competition, Namibia’s Micelle Fischer got off to a good start, winning her opening two matches.

After the first two rounds she shared first place with three other players on two points, namely Denise Frick of South Africa, Esperanco Caxita of Angola and Kgalalelo Botlhole of Botswana.

They were followed by six other players on one point each, including Namibia’s Magdalena Valombola and Jolly Nepando.

Source : The Namibian