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Poor start for chess squad

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By Mphatso Malidadi:

MIND-GAMES—Mphungu (left)

Malawi national men’s and women’s chess teams started the 2018 Olympiad on a poor note after losing in Batumi, Georgia, Europe, on Monday.

Malawi senior men’s side lost to Brazil 4-0 whereas Luxembourg beat the women’s team by a similar margin.

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Chess Association of Malawi (Chessam) Publicity Secretary, Alfred Chimthere, said first-round games are tough because top teams are paired against minnows such as Malawi.

“In this case, Brazil had grandmasters on all the four boards. It was basically a ‘David versus Goliath’ battle in the first-round. So, it was always going to be difficult [for Malawi] but as we progress, we hope to improve,” he said.

Chimthere said they hope that some players would earn new title norms.

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“We expect two players from the men’s team to get an IM (International Master) norm, and untitled players such as George Mwale and Richard Chiona to get at least Candidate Master norm. In the ladies’ category, it is only Linda Chaononga who is titled so we expect others to achieve a similar feat,” he said.

Meanwhile, Chimthere has disclosed that a well-wisher donated K18 million to cater for the team’s trip to Georgia for the competition.

“We were sponsored by a well-wisher from Russia, who does not want to be named for now. The well-wisher is a friend to former Chessam president Kezzie Msukwa,” he said.

Men’s team comprises Fide Master Gerald Mphungu, Candidate Masters Joseph Mwale, Chiletso Chipanga, George Mwale, Chiona and the ladies squad has Woman Fide Master Chaononga, Ellen Mpinganjira Desiderata Nkhoma and Annie Simwaba.

Thirteen-year-old Simwaba replaced Tupokiwe Msukwa, who withdrew from squad after her institution, Chancellor College, failed to grant her permission to travel.

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