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Year when Paul and Mike Chess dominated the scene

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Two months after Mdina Open Chess championship, daggers were drawn in the Paul and Mike National Championship.

The championship was played in a new format requiring two players from each region to sort it out in a play-to-kill fashion.

The event involved Gerald Mphungu, Chiletso Chipanga, Wilson Chingati and Precious Kamwendo.

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It was Chipanga who ruled supreme with a 100 percent score, giving him the right to challenge defending champion, Petros Razorblade Mfune.

The match between Mfune and Chipanga started off with Mfune scoring a vital home 2.5 to 1.5 win at Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe.

A week later, when they took the game to Zomba, where Mfune was thoroughly dazed 3.5 to 0.5, a margin he failed to square at the last battle in Blantyre.

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At the end of the 12-game duel, Mfune surrendered the Paul and Mike trophy to Chipanga with a score of 6.5 to 4.5.

Russian chess scholarships

In September, it was all jovial in the chess family as three Malawians won scholarships for various degree programmes with chess specialisation at prestigious Russian universities.

Adrian Mhango, Misheck Nyirenda and Emmanuel Kaluwa earned the scholarships.

The Fide-offered scholarships are designed to encourage youths from Third World countries to work hard at school and in chess. Misheck Nyirenda opted for Engineering, Adrian chose Sociology while Emmanuel picked Theology.

According to Chessam president, Kezzie Msukwa, the scholarships will be offered annually and are open to all chess players.

The Chinese grandmaster’s visit

As the year was drawing to a close, Chessam got another surprise through the visit of high-profile Chinese grandmaster, Chen Zhu.

The grandmaster, who was the women’s world chess champion from 2001 to 2004, encouraged students from various schools in Blantyre, including Army and Jacaranda, to work hard in school and chess.

At the climax, 18 Malawians, including the formidable, Alfred Chimthere, Chiletso Chipanga, James Kamowa , Wasoka Chirwa, Cosmol Ngongondo, Innocent Ngulube , Godwell Manda and Stanly Biyasi, lined up against the Chinese in simultaneous exhibition matches.

Unlike the disastrous 2006 Nigel Short simultaneous exhibition which saw the Briton almost wipe out the entire 50-member panel of players—-save for a draw by of Kajani Kaunda—-, this time around Malawians showed signs of maturity.

Chimthere and Chipanga actually scored against the Chinese grandmaster, while Kamuzu College of Nursing student, Godwell Manda, drew to end the simultaneous exhibition at 15.5 to 2.5 in favour of the grandmaster.

Many chess analysts commended Chinthere, Chipanga and Manda for defeating the grandmaster.

Africa juniors

This month, Malawi for the first time, sent a huge contingent of juniors to the Africa Junior Chess Championship held in Zambia.

Dispatching one in each category for Under 8,10,12,14,16,18 boys and girls, Malawi achieved fair results with, particularly under-10 girls Mishelle Chimbe of South End Primary School, saving Malawi’s face by finishing on position eight out of 23.

Yebo Sanga, in the Under-10 boys, also did fairly well by finishing on position 15 out of 23, while in Under-16 girls, Ulemu Mbewe finished position 16th out of 23.

Team leader, Chess Coordinator for Chess in Schools, Margret Ngugama, commended the team for putting up a gallant fight, and said the results are a harbinger of great things in future.

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