The Nigerian Team At The Baku Chess Olympiad

The Nigerian Team At The Baku Chess Olympiad‎

36 | Chess Players

By guest columnist Babatunde Timothy Ogunsiku

Preparing for the Baku Chess Olympiad, the top five Nigerian chess players had to train on their own, as the country was unable to fund the trip. This evolved into the uncertainty of even participating this year.

But owing to the passion of a single man (the president of the Nigerian Chess Federation), four of the five registered open players were provided flight tickets. The fifth player was crowdfunded to the tournament, and arrived about two days after the start of the event.

The Tournament:

After arriving in Baku, Nigeria was to face Russia, the highest-rated team of the tournament (what a fate), and even though the team was fatigued from arriving on the same day, it chose to play the Russians, rather than forfeit the match.

Russia defeated Nigeria 4-0, but a game of note from the match was FM Anwuli Daniel’s battle against GM Evgeny Tomashevsky, which he lost because he was trying to keep his kingside pawns connected. He fought till move 36, when it was obvious that the game was over.

 Photo via Anwuli Daniel.

Round two was fairly easy for the team, as it stormed to a 4-0 victory over Mauritania, and the game of the round was CM Adesina Adeyinka’s win over the second-highest-rated player of the team, CM Hemam Moulaye, where the Nigerian refused to castle.

The team then went on a four-match losing streak against the Philippines, Jamaica, Andorra, and Angola, with CM Adesina Adeyinka picking up three wins amid the team losses. The Bermuda party plus the break could not have come at a better time for the Nigerians.

 Photo via Anwuli Daniel.

After the sixth match day, the president of the Nigerian Chess Federation had to travel to Baku to give some much-needed support to the team, which paid off as the team had a good start after the break and a winning streak as well, which saw some interesting games played by the Nigerians.

Photos via Ochuko Emuakpeje.

Nigeria went on to win its match in round seven, with only the IM Adu Oladapo losing his game to the brilliant Leong Seak Hin:

Round eight saw a rejuvenated Nigeria play a very close match against the team from the island of Jersey (situated between England and France). With the match looking like it was tending towards a 2-2 draw, IM Oladapo Adu was determined not to lose another one, and kept at it in a losing endgame, earning the all-important draw and the match win. 

The Nigerian team went on to win its final three match rounds to score as many points in the Olympiad as any other African team. 

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