Rejuvenated chess gladiator Richard Chiona scored maximum points during the initial stage of National Chess Championships qualifiers for the Southern Region Chess League (SRCL) on Saturday to lead 15 players into next weekend’s final regional qualifiers.
He won all his five games to accumulate five points while defending national champion Gerald Mphungu and Fletcher Sokosoko finished second and third with 4.5 points and four points, respectively.
“It is not easy to win five consecutive games in a competitive tournament. I am proud of my performance today. However, I have not crossed the bridge yet, there are tougher games ahead,” said the former Lab Enterprises Chess Tournament champion.
Over 40 players took part in last Saturday’s encounters at Sports Council in Blantyre, but only 16 made it into the second qualifiers that will identify five for the national finals which will decide the country’s representatives at the World Chess Olympiad in Tromso, Norway later this year.
The other individuals that have made it into the Southern Region finals are Stanley Mpinganjira, Lumbani Mkamanga, Peter Jailos, Alfred Chimthere, Bright Nthara, Michael Kulucheta, Diston Chotsaine, Frazer Mkwaila, Ganizani Nyirenda, Kaani Kaunda, Edward Chiwalo, Jonah Ibrahim and Steven Mpighu.
According to Chess Association of Malawi (Chessam) publicist Gilton Mkumbwa, the Centre and the North used a different format in the selection exercise for their flag carriers at the national finals. He said their encounters will be done in three phases starting with last Saturday.
“They will play three rounds in each phase. They began last Saturday at the Kamuzu Institute for Sports in Lilongwe and Ilala Crest Lodge in Mzuzu. They will have the second qualifiers on February and the final games onFebruary 15,” said Mkumbwa.
On Saturday, Petros Mfune secured the top slot in the Centre despite tying on three points with his runner-up George Mwale and third-placed Hope Mwazozo after a buccholz tie-breaker separated them.