Margaret Ngugama survived a jungle of exasperation on Sunday to win the Queens’ Gambit Women’s Chess Tournament at Country Club Limbe (CCL) in Blantyre.
The two-day contest had 16 contestants, including the country’s first rated female chess players Vitumbiko Gondwe and Royce Msiska, but unrated Ngugama never felt out of place when she burst away with four wins, a draw and a loss to collect a total of 4.5 points out of the possible six points.
Gondwe, who was the only player that beat the champion, also amassed 4.5 points but she took the second slot due to her inferior power on the buchholz tie-breaking system. Daisy Nkhoma was third on four points as former Southern Region champion Ellen Mpinganjira settled for the fourth slot with four points as well.
For her success, Ngugama, who is the Southern Region Chess League (SRCL) schools chess coordinator, received K20 000 (about $40) first prize and a gold medal from the sponsor Susan Namangale. She is also expected to earn a rating for beating rated player Msiska.
“It has been a long journey to success. I think a lot of practice has helped me to win my first ever title. I will try my best to defend the crown,” Ngugama said.
Namangale said she sponsored the K150 000 (about $300) all-ladies contest to motivate female players to take the mental sport seriously. She said if all goes well, she will bankroll a similar event next year.
Chess Association of Malawi (Chessam) honorary treasurer Joseph Chalemba and SRCL vice-chairperson Peter Jailosi thanked Namangale for financing the unique competition.