Chess returns after 3-month absence

By Michael Uugwanga 

THE sport of chess is amongst the codes that made a return on the local scene with a tournament this past weekend, after a three-month absence due to Covid-19. The discipline had been put on hold since March 14, but had been allowed to start with its activities from April 29 under strict regulations. 
Kingdom Way Chess Academy held its first tournament under state of emergency and lockdown regulations at a hotel in Windhoek on Saturday, and 10 players took part in the competition.  
Jamine Tibazarwa, aged 17 took home first place which includes prize money, plus a trophy, while second place went to Blessing Makura aged 9, and third place went to Saima Kasheeta, 27. 
The chess tourney was played on a knockout basis with only 10 players having taken part in the event due to restrictions set out by the academy, however the academy is looking at hosting more events before the end of the year in order to give players opportunities to showcase their talent. 
Chess in Namibia still way behind in terms of appealing to locals, however chess players have represented the country well at tournaments within the continent, in particular Ottilie Yorokee Hinda who in 2018 won a gold medal at the African Youth Chess Championship in Kenya. At that time the young Hinda competed in the girls’ under-eight category after receiving a rating of 1 800 for her performance which was seen as an extraordinary feat for a youngster of her age. 
Hinda is also the youngest Woman Candidate Master.   
Lazarus Shatipamba, a part-time coach at Kingdom Way is confident that chess will soon grow in the country. 
“In fact Covid-19 inspired us to host this tournament because we just wanted to make ourselves more visible to our players and supporters, and show that chess is still alive even during this Covid-19. 
“Currently we are only giving online chess classes to privileged players and we have about 150 members at our academy. Chess is just starting in Namibia when you compare to other countries on the continent such as Egypt, Uganda, Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe, because those countries have lots of international players and grandmasters. We are getting there as far as growing the sport of chess,” said Shatipamba.  
Kingdom Way Chess Academy was co-founded in 2018 by Robert Gwaze and Leonard Nghifilkwa.