Despite missing the World Chess Olympiad’s first two rounds in Baku, Azerbaijan due to flight delays, Malawi has moved three steps up on world rankings in both men’s and ladies’ categories.
The men’s section has improved from position 131 to 128 out of 180 countries while the ladies’ side has enhanced its stand to position 124 from 127 out of 146 nations.
Two of the country’s 10 representatives at the Olympiad, Petros ‘Razorblade’ Mfune and South Africa-based Paul Kuphwatheya, have earned the Candidate Master (CM) title, which is three steps to the ultimate Grandmaster status, following their performance at the games.
According to Chess Association of Malawi (Chessam) spokesperson Makhosi Nyirenda, Mfune had to wait until the penultimate round of the 11-round contest where he beat Hassan Mohamed of the Maldives to reach the needed 50 percent winning mark to get his latest status.
Kuphwatheya forced a draw against Hong Kong player Edgardo Borigas to earn the promotion.
The development means Malawi now has six CMs, including Joseph Nyambalo, Alfred Chimthere, Chiletso Chipanga and Joseph Chalemba.
The country’s most decorated players are Gerald Mphungu and Linda Jambo, who are Fide Master and Women Fide Master (WFM), respectively.
Overall, the men’s team scored nine points from three wins, three draws and four losses.
The ladies’ team managed to accumulate seven points from three wins, a draw and seven losses.
“It was not easy to achieve this considering that we missed the first two rounds due to flight connection problems in Dubai and we did not have ample time for preparations due to inadequate funding. We are happy to have achieved something,” Nyirenda said.
Malawi has been participating in the competition since 2006 and has been steadily improving over the years. The event is held every two years.