Precious Kamwendo and Jennifer Mwenewanda won the K150 000 Southern Region Chess League (SRCL) Ifumbo Day of Checkmates Tournament at College of Medicine (CoM) in Blantyre on Saturday with resounding victories in men and ladies’ categories, respectively.
Ahead of the tournament, Kamwendo was considered a mere pushover in the face of candidate masters Alfred Chimthere and Joseph Nyambalo plus Lilongwe-based chess gladiators Kaguta Stanley Kafere and George Mwale. Nevertheless, he was unbeaten in the seven-round contest following five wins and two draws to collect insurmountable six points.
Nyambalo finished second after arbiter Peter Jailosi deployed a Bucholz tie-breaking system to separate a 5.5 points tie with little-known Bywel Walumbe, who settled for the third-place. Chimthere and Kafere, who were among Kamwendo’s victims in the 32-contestant event, emerged fourth and fifth with five points apiece.
“To say the truth, I did not expect to be anywhere near the top-two list considering the big names that competed,” Kamwendo said. “However, I did not let inferiority complex overcome my zeal to succeed and it paid.”
In the ladies’ section, Mwenewanda fought her way to the summit after amassing four points, a point ahead of her runner-up and former national champion Ellen Mpinganjira. With 2.5 points, third-placed chess tutor Magret Ngugama could as well not match her strength on the chessboard.
For his success, Kamwendo received K50 000 first prize while his runner-up and third-placed contestant got K30 000 and K20 000 in that order. Ladies’ champion took home K15 000 whereas second-placed player got K5 000.
SRCL chairperson Wasoka Chirwa, who was accompanied by Chess Association of Malawi (Chessam) spokesperson Makhosi Nyirenda, said he the triumph of little-known players is a good indication that the standard of the mental sport is fast improving. n