Top two Zambian chess players have joined calls asking South Africa based engineer Tiwone Mdina to start sponsoring the Mdina Open chess championship again.
The players cited lucrative prizes, free accommodation, food and transport as among the key factors that made Mdina Open one of the top events in Southern Africa.
International Master Chitumbo Mwali, who won the 2017 edition of the Mdina Open at Mphatso Hotel in Mzuzu, said he was attracted to compete following the consistency of the tournament through sponsorship.
“It was a good tournament. I participated in the championship twice. During the first tournament I was tied on points for the first position,” he said.
Nicknamed Copper Eagle, Mwali said Mdina tournament helped in improving the standards of the sport.
“The Mdina tournament brought competition to Malawian chess hence players started improving. The conditions that Mdina gave such as free transport from Zambia, free accommodation, free food also contributed,” he said.
Another Zambian Dennis Mwape, who is now a certified Fide National Instructor, said he learnt about the tournament through Mwali.
“In 2016 I decided to gear myself up for the challenge. It was my first neighbouring outing though. We traveled six Zambians and it was a packed event. A Zambian CM [Candidate Master] Godwin Phiri won it. I have played in Mdina open twice, the later been in 2018 in Blantyre at College of Medicine,” he said.
Mwape said they were looking forward to Mdina’s return as the championship was developing quickly.
“Mdina events were massive and getting bigger on every progressive occasion. Which now extended the interests of neighbouring Mozambique too. As Zambians we were looking forward to play more of Mdina events in numbers, it was unfortunate to hear the event was no more. We wish for the return. It really helped Malawi ratings of players and the strength,” he said.
In a recent interview Mdina blamed players and administrators for withdrawing sponsorship two years ago.
After leaving chess, Mdina also sponsored junior tennis tournament and golf tournament at Blantyre Sports Club.
In absence of Mdina championship, Chess Association of Malawi (Chessam) secured sponsorship from MyBucks Bank (K1 million), MRA (K1.5 million) and Crossroads Hotel.