International Master (IM) Moses Winesi lived up to his status as the country’s highest-rated draughts player on Sunday after winning the National Draughts Championship with an unbeaten record at the Sibwenson Park in Chilomoni, Blantyre.
The nine-round competition saw the 2016 African Draughts Championship silver medallist collecting insurmountable 16 points, after winning seven games and shading two draws, to outclass 35 other contestants, including his runner-up Humble Bondo and third-placed Federation Master (FM) Enock Makoka Banda, who fell three points behind.
Even last year’s national champion FM Madalitso Thom Baba, who emerged the best African player at the 2017 World Draughts Championship in Russia, could not stand Winesi’s heat after slipping to a less-enviable sixth position with 11 points.
“I feel happy that I have finally won my first national title. Previously, I felt bad to be Malawi’s highest rated player without being a national champion,” said Winesi, who missed last year’s ultimate glory by a whisker after finishing as a runner-up.
Bondo and James Solobala Gama, who tied on 13 points alongside Banda but were separated by a Buchholz tie-breaking system, were the revelation of the two-day tournament as they settled for the runner-up and fourth position, respectively, on their first appearance at a national event.
Nevertheless, Association of Draughts in Malawi (Adma) general secretary Suzgo Nkhoma said the top 13 players from the national finals have qualified as the country’s ambassadors during the African Draughts Championship Malawi is expected to host in Blantyre between July 8 and 14.
“The national championship has not only helped us to identify our flag carriers during the continental competition but it has also given us hope that we will do well after noting that the little-known players have upped their game,” he said.