Echos of the reggae song ‘Addis Ababa’ by Culture crossed my mind as the Zone 4.4 Chess Championship games kick started yesterday, 2nd May,2022 at Magnolia Hotel in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa.
Those that are playing in the tournament should feel like time travellers as, by their calendar, it is still in 2014 in Ethiopia . Even their reigning chess King CM Abera Aydagnuhem Gezachew, who is also taking part , is referred as the ‘2014 Ethiopian Champion’.
But, the tournament, which is being played in Open and Ladies Sections, will end on 7th May, 2022, after 9 rounds.
Open section has registered 42 participants, with the host country fielding 19 players
The ladies Section has registered 18 participants.
Eritria, Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan have fielded players in both sections , while Somalia and Djibouti have only fielded in the Open Section.
The top 3 rated players in the Open Section are from Sudan. FM Tagelsir Abubaker (2202), FM Abdelazeez Mohamed Abdalla (2180), and FM Nadir Samir (2177).
Kenyan WFM Sasha Mongeli (1634) is the highest rated in the ladies section followed by Haille Lidet Abate of Ethiopia (1608).
Present is also Kenya champion Martin Njoroge, who won himself a car at the Kenyan Chess Championship last year .
Another player to watch is Ethiopian FM Mesfin Leykun.
The Zone 4.4 is a new look zone as its previous members like Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia etc were relocated to a new Zone at the rebranding of the Zones in 2019.
However, as it is the syndrome these days, the tournament has been hit with absentees.
Other Zone 4.4 members: Uganda, Comoros Islands, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan and Tanzania are not taking part in the tournament.
The top 5 winners of the Open Section will receive 1200 USD, 900 USD, 750 USD , 500 USD, 300 USD respectively, while the top 5 winners of the ladies section will receive 750 USD , 500 USD, 300 USD , 200 USD and 100 USD respectively.
In addition to the lucrative prizes above, the top winners of both sections will get sponsorship to participate in the Sarjah Masters and Sarjah Challengers Chess Champions in the United Arab of Emirates.