Zim Open Chess Championship kicks off

HARARE - Some of the finest chess players in the southern African region have converged in Harare to battle for honours in the Zimbabwe Chess Open Championship beginning today.
    
International Master (IM) Robert Gwaze, fresh from clinching the Harare Grand Prix last week, will be odds-on favourite to clinch the title he last won in 2011.

In a field of close to 200 contestants, the All-Africa Games gold medallist will however, not be short of competition.

IM Rodwell Makoto, the reigning 2012 South African Open champion, will also be expected to set the stage alight in the $10 000 tournament, whose winner will walk away $2 000 richer.

Makoto will be looking to win the tournament to cap a fine year in which he has dominated regional and international chess competitions.

Makoto won gold in the Capablanca chess festival in South Africa in May before coming first in the South Africa Open tournament, beating grand masters from China and France.

He then finished first at the Kwazulu Natal Spring championships in August. Makoto then signed off the year by finishing in position 18 in the 40th Olympiad chess tournament in Turkey.

However, he will be the first to admit that this weekend’s Zimbabwe Open presents a different turf to his previous outings.

Last year’s Zimbabwe Chess Open was won by top Zambian chess player Kennedy Katowa, who emerged triumphant against all odds in a field that boasted of highly rated players.

Katowa’s performance from last year will no doubt spur the Zambians on this weekend.

Zambia’s hopes this time around will be pinned on Linus Katebe, IM Chitumbo Mwali, as well as the Chufa brothers, Stanley and Kelvin.

Other players to look out for are South Africa’s Johannes Mabusele as well as locals Charlton Maravanyika, brothers Farai and Spencer Masango and Lloyd Moyo.

Zimbabwe Chess Open national organiser Clive Mphambela said: “We expect all the top players in the southern region to be on show. Zimbabwe Republic Police support unit will also compete.

“The local police won medals in the Sapco games last year in Congo so they will definitely be included.

“It is attracting more and more international chess players. It’s one of the largest tournaments in southern Africa; it’s becoming a popular event.

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