The 2015 Africa Individual Championship was held in Cairo, Egypt from May 1-13, with 11 federations (countries) participating in the 9 rounds Swiss event.
Top seed Egyptian GM Bassem Amin (2633) triumphed in the Open section whereas another Egyptian WGM Khaled Mona triumphed in the women’s section.
A total of 32 players in the Open and 22 in the women’s sections drawn from Nigeria, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Zambia, Sudan, Botswana, Rwanda, Uganda and the host nation took part in this prestigious continental showpiece.
The field included five GMs, eleven IMs, three WGMs and six WIMs.
GM Bassem garnered 7/9 points, same as second placed and also second seed GM Ahmed Adly (2593) and they were separated by tie-break. Worthy of mention is the fact that the pharaohs placed 7 players in the top ten with three Algerians taking the other spots (positions 3-5). East Africa’s representatives FM-designate Raphael Buti (Uganda) and CM Alexis Ruzigura (Rwanda) finished in positions 28 with 3 points and 32 with 1.5 points respectively.
Both GM Bassem and GM Adly qualified to play in the 2015 World Cup to be held in Baku, Azerbaijan from September 10 to October 4. The 2014 champion GM Kenny Solomon was unable to defend his title due to sanctions imposed on South Africa because of arrears owed to the world chess body, FIDE.
In the women’s section, WGM Khaled (2125) was in impervious form and posted a perfect score of 9/9 points, dethroning last year’s champion and fellow Egyptian WGM Shrook Wafa, who managed 5.5 points to finish in fourth behind the Algerian duo of WIM Amina Mezioud (2083) and WIM Sabrina Latreche, both of them scoring 6.5 points.
Locally, the 2014 Kenya national championship winner Sanjana Deshpande was the toast of the evening during the 2014 gala awards last Sunday, walking away with three accolades; best female player as well as junior player and the most promising female player. CM Ben Magana of KCB was the best male player as Subham Rai was the best male junior player.
Other categories were—best university player: Austin Walela (male) and Dephne Mwikali (female); most promising male player: Arnold Oyagi; best event organizer/director: Toni Mutua; best arbiter:George Githui; the event of the year: East African Open Chess Festival and the best community social responsibility activity was the Kakuma refugee chess program headed by WCM Jane Wambugu and Toni Mutua.
Puzzle: How did White (Joseph Atwoli) unleash a series of discovered checks against Black (IM Elijah Emojong) to win in this game played in the Millionaire Satellite Chess Festival 2015, Nairobi?