The list of national finalists in the Mdina Business Solutions Individual Chess Open Championship was completed last weekend when six players sailed through from the Southern Region qualifiers at Steers and Debonairs Garden in Blantyre.
Bright Nthala, Gerald Mphungu, Andrew Kalumbi, Peter Jailosi, Ishmael Harrison and Diston Chotsaine qualified at the expense of 30 Southern Region contestants, including former national champion Candidate Master Chiletso Chipanga.
Nthala won all his six games to emerge on top with six points while Fide Master Mphungu and newcomer Kalumbi collected 5.5 points each, but they finished second and third, respectively, after being separated by a tie-breaking system. Jailosi took fourth place with five points. Harrison and Chotsaine finished fifth and sixth with 4.5 points apiece.
“This is the first time I have won qualifiers for a competitive event and I will work hard to maintain the good form at the national finals,” said Nthala.
But top-rated Chipanga failed to qualify after finishing ninth with four points.
However, he heaved a sigh of relief after Chess Association of Malawi (Chessam) president Kezzie Msukwa announced that all nine players that qualified for the imminent 2016 World Chess Olympiad in Baku have been seeded for Mdina finals in Lilongwe on August 19 alongside defending men’s champion Petros Mfune and ladies title holder Margaret Ngugama.
Chipanga is among the qualified players for the Olympiad along with Mphungu, Mfune, Alfred Chimthere and Paul Kuphwatheya. The ladies’ section has Women Fide Master Linda Jambo, Ellen Mpinganjira, Tupokiwe Msukwa and Vitumbiko Gondwe.
“We have done this deliberately so as to let our ambassadors prepare well for the World Olympiad. It could be a big mistake to sideline them,” Msukwa said.
Moreover, Msukwa said Zambian International Master Chitumbo Mwali, who won the Muleso-Mphande Open last week in Lilongwe and his compatriot Chilekwa Mape Mabunda will also be available for action.
Central Region conducted their qualifiers last week when Davie Mawango, George Mwale, Stanford Chiwambo, Moses Mtumbuka, Hope Mwazozo and Ronald Chinkute sailed through.
Northern Region saw Rumbani Mkamanga making it alongside Kelusi Mhango, Seko Soko, Sungani Mkandawire, Vincent Luhanga and Msukwa.