The classic category of the African Draughts-64 Individual Championship started yesterday at Sunbird Mount Soche in Blantyre with Malawi players wearing the favourites tag following their outstanding performance in a warm-up rapid category on Tuesday.
The nine-round rapid category, a pre-tournament contest, saw three Malawians finishing within the top-four bracket out of 34 players from Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Tanzania, Ghana, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Uganda and Malawi.
Federation Master (FM) Enock Makoka Banda and Madalitso Baba Thom were the eventual champion and runner-up with 15 points and 14 points respectively, while International Master (IM)Moses Wines finished fourth after tying on 12 points with third-placed Ghananian Abu Michael.
“The sublime performance in the rapid contest has sent shivers down the spines of the foreign participants, especially neighbours Zambia, who frequently describe our players as geniuses,” said Association of Draughts in Malawi (Adma) general secretary Suzgo Nkhoma.
“However, we have advised our players not to sit on their laurels, but work extra hard to take glory in the classic event, which is the tournament’s main division.”
On their part, Banda, Thom and Winesi said their success in the rapid event has given them confidence of doing well.
Apart from K1 million grand prize, the champion will earn the International Grandmaster (GMI) title, K1.5 million-worth air ticket, accommodation and food at the World Draughts Championship next year.
The runner-up will earn an IM title, automatic qualification to the world championship and K700 000.
The third-placed will have the FM title, automatic qualification to the world championship and K500 000.