Just like it was fit to say “Football Comes home” when England, the purported birth place of football, hosted Euro 96, so the phrase “Chess comes home” shall be fit when the 44th World Chess Olympiad is hosted in Chennai , India, the birth place of chess, from 29th July to 9th August , 2022 .
For the past few days, social media has been awash with pictures of jovial faces of African chess athletes travelling to the Chess Olympiad. While India itself is hailed to be the cradle of chess, Chennai is the birthplace of former World Chess Champion, Vishy Anand, which gives it a reputation of being a chess craze city, ready to welcome anything that comes in the name of chess.
A total of 47 African Federations are taking part in this year’s Olympiad, which is an improvement from last Olympiad which registered 44 African Federations.
In the Open Section, with an average rating of 2350, the Egyptians, who are boasting of 4 Grandmasters are ranked No. 38. Grandmaster Amin Bassem rated 2680 will be their main man on board one , ready to parry away any force that may come their way.
The South Africans follow them on rank 69 with an average rating of 2342. While also possessing skillful young talent in FM Banele Mhango , the Rainbow nation’s team also boasts of the most capped African players of the event in Grandmaster Solomon Kenny and IM Watu Kobese, who are making their 12th appearance at the event.
Zambia are on rank 73 with an average rating of 2314 .
Morocco with an average rating of 2286 , are ranked 74 and Tunisia with an average rating of 2270 are ranked 77.
Uganda are on rank 90 with an average rating 2216, while , with an average rating of 2209, Angola are on rank 93.
In the women’s section, the Egyptians also lead the African pack on rank 44 with an average rating of 2126. They boast of 4 Woman Grandmasters.
Algeria are ranked 62nd with an average rating of 2189 , Nigeria are No 68 with an average rating 1889 , while the Angolans are on 69 with an average rating of 1874.
On another note, quite a number of African Federations have included junior players. For instance, Botswana has registered an exciting all junior ladies team of the likes of : Naredi Marape, Natali Banda, and FM Besa Masaiti , who are doing very fine. Nigeria has Joy Onoja , and Algeria has Rania Nassr.
In the Open section, South Africa has 19 year old Banele Mhango , Algeria has 20 year old Lamine Brahimi . Ethiopia has Badene Hayu, Morocco has 20 year old Hadj Kholti, Yasser – just to mention a few.
Apparently , most of the Federation were given travel grants to manage the trip.
While the event is a team event with 4 players aside, there are also individual board medals which Africans will be fighting for.
On record, the best African individual board showing at an Olympiad was that of Zimbabwe’s IM Robert Gwaze when he scored 9 out 9 on board one in Bled Slovenia in 2002.
People still talk about Nigerian Odion Aikhoje’s swashbuckling performance when he won silver at the 1998 Olympiad in Elista,
But rules have since changed , these days they use performance rating to award individual board’s best performers. Imagine , at the Batumi Olympiad in 2018 , Democratic Republic of Congo Kabamwanishi Mashala’s 9.5 points out of 10 did not amount to a podium finish.
First round pairing
Following the Swiss pairing, the top boards for Africa in the Open Section are as follows:
Board 1 India vs Zimbabwe
Board 2 Angola vs USA
Board 6 Azerbaijan vs Algeria
Board 12 Armenia vs Madagascar
The last World chess Olympiad took place in Batumi, Georgia in 2018 . South Sudan brought a consolation for Africa when they won a medal in their tier.
The 2022 World Chess Olympiad had to be rescheduled to India after Russia was stripped of its rights to host the event following their unpopular decision to go to war against Ukraine.
According to Kenya Chess Masala, USA with an Average rating of 2772 is expected to win the event with or without serious problems , and the hosts India are expected to give them stiff opposition .
A total of 187 countries are taking part in the event .
Another notabe absentee are China who are on lockdown because of the Corona virus .
Another activity that people are looking forward to in this Olympiad are the Fide elections.
The tickets are as follows:
Mr. Inalbek Cheripov and Mr Lewis Ncube
Mr. Andrii Baryshpolets and Mr. Peter-Heine Nielsen;
Mr. Arkady Dvorkovich and Mr. Anand Viswanathan;
Mr. Bachar Kouatly and Mr. Ian Wilkinson.
On continental level, three candidates : Tshepiso Lopang , Benard Wanjala, and Hesham Elgindy are vying for the position of ACC president.
There will also be Zonal elections , whose contestants we are yet to compile.
MORE ABOUT CHENNAI
Chennai, which is also known as “Madras” is the capital city of Tamil Nadu. It is located on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal, and is the most prominent cultural, economic and educational centre in that region. Among other accolades, Chennai is ranked as a beta-level city in the Global Cities Index, and was ranked the best city in India by India Today in the 2014 annual Indian city survey-Just a brief description of the city.