The Baku Chess Olympiad: Zambians In View
The last 2 years (2015/2016) have been sensational for the Zambians in African chess, and it should be noted that they have won tournaments and showed themselves strong in African and international tournaments.
After the 2014 Chess Olympiad in Tromso, the Zambians have evolved into major contenders on the African continent, but they still need as much sponsorship as the Egyptians get to get close enough to the Egyptians.
Picture of the Zambian team to the Tromso Olympiad from
IM Phiri Richmond won the Africa Zone 4.3 Individual Chess Championship in 2015 to qualify and play at the Baku Chess World Cup in 2015, IM Jere Daniel just won the South Africa edition of the Millionaire Chess Satellite tournament, and FM Kayonde Andrew just picked up his IM title at the Africa Individual Chess Championship on home soil in Lusaka, Zambia, defeating GM Adly Ahmed and losing the top spot only to IM Hesham Abdelrahman who bagged the GM title at the tournament.
This team is currently the 2nd best team in Africa with 5 IMs to their credit, and this team will most definitely do way better than their team to the Tromso Olympiad.
FM Kayonde Andrew - 2422
IM Jere Daniel - 2370
IM Phiri Richmond - 2342
IM Mwali Chitumbo - 2326
IM Chumfwa Kelvin - 2240
FM Kayonde Andrew (2422):
The most improved player on the African continent, reaching the 2400 rating band before his more illustrious countrymen who have been IMs long before he picked up his FM title. He now joins them as an IM after picking up the 2nd place position at the Africa Individual Chess Championship in Uganda, just last month, July.
Born in 1988, IM Andrew Kayonde has been an underdog for a long time before his trainings and hardworking nature began to pay off at tournaments. He got his CM title from the 39th World Chess Olympiad in Russia, his FM title 2 years later and the IM title was conferred on him after his brilliant performance at the Africa Individual Chess Championship this year. His rating makes him number 1 in Zambia, the 12th best player in Africa at the moment, and a major force to contend with at the Baku Chess Olympiad.
Picture from Africa Chess Confederation Facebook page
He is one player to certainly look out for at the event, as far as the Africans at the Olympiad are concerned.
IM Jere Daniel (2370):
This year has certainly been one of the very best chess playing years for IM Jere Daniel, as he has most likely won more tournaments than he has ever done in his chess playing career in a single year.
Born in 1986, the big guy got his FM title at the 2008 Chess Olympiad in Dresden, Germany, and picked up his IM title after the 2011 Africa Zone 4.3 Individual Chess Championship in Botswana. He has evolved over the years and would be putting his experience on show at the Baku Chess Olympiad.
He won the IM norm Invitational tournament, which the KCF Africa organized in partnership with the South Africa Chess Federation, and also won the South Africa edition of the Millionaire Chess Satellite tournament, which was organized by the KCF Africa also.
Pictures from Reint Dykema
IM Jere Daniel has been considered by many Africans as a GM strength player who is yet to meet the conditions of the title. A born leader and a good friend to those who know him.
IM Phiri Richmond (2342):
The Zambians number 3, picked up his FM title just at the age of 18, after the 37th Chess Olympiad at Turin, Italy in 2006. He continued playing for almost 10 years before he got his IM title, after winning the Africa Zone 4.3 tournament, Malawi 2015 convincingly with 8.5/9, with which he picked up the slot for the Baku Chess World Cup last year, where he played and lost to GM Hikaru Nakamura in the first round of the tournament.
Picture from IM Andrew Kayonde's Facebook page
A gentleman in all ramifications, and a real fighter on the chess board. He would bring some needed dynamism to the team more.
IM Mwali Chitumbo (2326):
IM Mwali is one of the very few that did not need to go through the rigors of the CM title, or the FM title, but got his IM title in brilliant fashion at the African Individual Chess Championship 2007, in Namibia (according to fide.com).
The 30 year old fell short at the Capablanca Invitational Chess Festival early this year, where he could only muster 4.5/9. And achieved an important 5.5/7, which made him tie for 1st at the 2016 Heroes and Unity Chess Championship, Zambia, ahead of IM Phiri Richmond.
Picture from Reint Dykema
It will certainly be quite interesting to see how far he goes at the Olympiad this year, with his current form being good enough if he can keep calm in the face of higher ratings, names and faces.
IM Chumfwa Kelvin (2240):
IM Chumfwa picked up his IM title after the Africa Zone 4.3 Individual Chess Championship in 2014, at Namibia. He has continued to do well in tournaments and improved his rating in the process. He participated in the 2006, 2010 and 2014 Chess Olympiads, with his first Olympiad in Italy his best yet, and he will certainly be looking to make amends for his performance at Tromso. Won the 2015 Kafue Open tournament, and would be looking to continue with a good performance at the Baku Chess Olympiad.
He gained some ratings at the Kayonde’s Elite Invitational Challenge after finishing 2nd behind (then) FM Andrew Kayonde, and lost more than twice the rating in the pursuit of gaining more at the 2016 Heroes and Unity Chess Championship, about 2 months after.
Picture from IM Chumfwa Kelvin's Facebook page
The hope is that he has learned why he lost and put everything he has into the opportunity he would get at the Olympiad to show his brilliance at the grand stage.
With GM Amon Simotuwe missing from this team, the onus is on the motivational IM Kayonde Andrew to push this team as far forward as possible. Though, younger than the others, he has shown the qualities of a leader in all areas of his chess career.
The hope is that at the end of the tournament, each one of these players will be able to hold their heads up high, that they have given their very best for their country and continent.