The Zimbabwe Chess Federation will launch a Business Chess League in March, which will be open to chess teams from the corporate world.
Teams will be comprised of staff members from the participating corporate entities as well as any players that can be recruited to play for the corporate sides as professionals.
Registration of teams for the first season has already started and the season kicks off at the beginning of March while games will be played on a home and away basis. Each teams will comprise six players and teams can be mixed in terms of gender.
Vice president of the Zimbabwe Chess Federation, Clive Mphambela told the Business Weekly that The Business Chess League, will be modeled around the same concept as the business league that is played by golfers.
Chess matches will be played at upmarket corporate sports club facilities of participating corporates with trophies medals and shields. With increasing sponsorship, cash prizes will be on offer for top notch performances.
“We have been developing the idea of the corporate chess league for some time and this year, following a lot of interest shown by chess players who are in business and commerce, we have decided to introduce a competitive league for all those chess players in the corporate world,” he said.
Mphambela said the game of chess offers business executives an opportunity to test their strategic and tactical thinking over a chess game and leagues games will come with valuable networking benefits during social interactions after the games.
Mphambela believe that the Business League, which will be integrated into the National Chess league will also offer an outlet for stronger chess players and their clubs to represent the country at continental or global club chess championships.
“Chess is a great game of strategy and tactics. It is the epitome of the ultimate schemer, the astute planner, and the brutal executioner. This is why chess appeals to anybody with a business sense. In the days of old, chess was the game of the noble, the kings and queens, the knights and the generals.
“The league will have as many as twenty chess clubs from the corporate sector, including banks, insurance companies and the technology sectors,” added Mphambela.
“By partnering with the business world to roll out a formal chess league, we will grow the visibility of the game of chess in the country.
“We also believe that the league will offer many of our top chess players an opportunity to get employed as player coaches in the new industry we are creating” Mphambela added.
While the Zimbabwe Chess Federation has not been beating its own drums, Zimbabwe chess has made significant achievements both locally and internationally over the years, winning the country many notable accolades.
For instance, Zimbabwe is the only African country ever to win a Gold Medal at the World Chess Olympiad, which is equivalent to the World Cup or the Olympics in other sports.
Zimbabwe’s International Master and then Africa Champion, Robert Gwaze, won the Board One gold medal ahead of players such as the world number one player at the time, who was none other than the great Gary Kasparov at the Chess Olympiad held in Bled, Solvenia in 2002.
The past ZCF President, the late Charles Kuwaza, was the first Zimbabwean African Chess Champion in newly independent Zimbabwe, a title he held for ten years before retiring unbeaten. Robert Gwaze was to become Africa Junior Champion decades later at a tender age of fifteen years.
Zimbabwe has also won gold and many other chess medals at the All Africa Games.
Another Zimbabwean, South Africa based International Master Robert Makoto was crowned runner up Sportsperson of the year in 2012 at the National Sports Awards 2012. He has been a top player for many years, winning the South African Open Championships in 2012, ahead a field of top chess Grand Masters.
Another great International Master from Zimbabwe is Farai Mandizha, who is based in US, who last year, won a prestigious World Open held in Philadelphia. This just a year after an equally strong performance saw him clinch a top prize at the Millionaire Chess Challenge which was held in Las Vegas the previous year.
Zimbabwean chess ladies have not disappointed either. Zimbabwe Ladies team player, Rhoda Masiyazi, holds two world records achieved at two Olympiads held in Istanbul, Turkey in 2012 (fastest winning time of 11 minutes) and in Tromso Norway 2014 (quickest win over an opponent after she beat an opponent in only three moves, the quickest win ever in a high level Chess game!!!
“With achievements such as these, Zimbabwean Chess seems to be an under-recognised sport.” said Mphambela.