The Zimbabwe Chess Federation (ZCF) is set to host a potentially explosive chess tournament from tomorrow to April 1, 2018 at the Causeway Post Office, in Harare.
Dubbed the Zimbabwe Easter Open tournament, the three-day tourney gives local chess stars an opportunity to put up strong performances and break the dominance of foreign players.
The Zimbabwe Easter Open tournament has been a regular feature on the Kasparov Chess Foundation Africa calendar for a number of years and attracts a lot of regional players.
Zambia, South Africa, Botswana and Malawi are some of the countries expected to send players to compete at the prestigious tournament.
This year, the event features three sections; open, ladies and men from the corporate world, as well as juniors aged 14 years and below.
The tournament is funded to the tune of $3 000 this year.
ZCF vice-president and tournament convener, Clive Mphambela said local players are raring to break the three year jinx that has seen the tournament being dominated by foreigners.
Mphambela said the first four winners in the open (men) category would get $600, $400, $300 and $200 respectively.
“Both the open and ladies sections will be rated by both FIDE (and the URS (universal rating system) and we look forward to another top class event in Zimbabwe over the long Easter weekend.
“We have been getting a good turnout in our tournaments so we are sure this will improve the standard of the sport. Even the players themselves have gained confidence because of the exposure the tournament brings,” said Mphambela.
Reigning Zimbabwe national chess champion, Zhemba Zhemusse and ladies’ favourite, Colletta Wakuruwarewa — a Harare Polytechnic accounting student — are expected to hold their own against the invading force of foreign players, particularly from Zambia.
Upcoming chess players Rumbidzai Mawire and Refiloe Mudodo are also expected to fly the country’s flag high.
Going forward, the future of the sport lies with the juniors.
“We have just finished the national juniors’ selection for primary schools which was held in Plumtree last weekend.
“Over 260 chess players from several primary schools took part in the national selection tournament. We are also happy to say that the high schools are hosting a similar schools’ chess event shortly in Bulawayo.
“The future of chess in the country is in the hands of juniors so such tournaments have to be organised very often,” said Mphambela.
Meanwhile, the ZCF will be announcing the senior men and women’s chess teams that will represent the country at the 44th World Chess Olympiad pencilled for Batumi, Georgia.
The tournament is expected to run from September 24 to October 10 this year.
Mphambela said they would require substantial corporate sponsorship for the country’s senior teams, which have done well in the past.