ZAMBIA’S chess ace Gillian Bwalya at the weekend won the Airtel Challenge Championship for November held at the Olympic Youth Development Centre (OYDC) in Lusaka to become the first player to defend the monthly elite title.
The International Master (IM) won the elite event after having a better tie-break over his Nkwazi team-mate Godwin Phiri after the two drew level on five points from the possible six points.
Stanley Chumfwa from Red Arrows finished in third place after collecting 4.5 points with Oscar Mwenya in fourth position with four points.
Bwalya, who lost only one game to Kela Siame of Red Arrows in the third round, beat Thomas Zulu, Phiri, Chumfwa, Kelvin Chumfwa and Judah Simulundu in rounds one, two, four, five and six to win the championship.
Geoffrey Luanja won the Open category despite finishing at par on 5.5 points with Gershom Musende but the former had a better tie-break than the latter.
Luanja of Napsa only drew one game with fellow club mate Geshom Musende in round six.
Erick Siamayuwa was third on five points ahead of Henry Mukabe, who emerged the best under-18 player, and Tabala Simasiku who also was on five points. In sixth position was Mutale Kalaba with 4.5 points same as Grain Mulenga as Alistair Chisompola and Kiddy Makwaya finished on four points.
In the under-18 year’s category, Henry Mukabe emerged champion with five points ahead of Siamayuwa also with five points but had a weaker tie break relegating him to second place, while Kakanda Vukani finished with 4.5 points.
In the women’s section, Nkwazi female icon Linda Hamoonga emerged champion. Hamoonga and Phyllis Namasiku of UNZA both finished with three points each but the former had a better tie break.
October champion, Constance Mbatha finished in third position with 2.5 points, while Mary Mashane, Subenir Mushanga and Emma Chiwaya all finished with two points each. The women also participated in the competitive B section that also included men and attracted 63 participants.
In the under 14 girl’s category, Mweshi Kaluba a Grade 7 pupil at Lake Road School emerged the champion after finishing on three points. Also with three pts was Hellen Chanda a Grade 6 pupil from Rufunsa Basic School, who was sponsored by Caritas of Archdiocese from Czech Republic.
Taonga Mtonga a Grade 7 pupil at the Holy Cross Convent School was third also with three points but a weak tie-breaker separated her from the top two.
In the under nine year’s girls category, Naomi Mwale and Maria Banda of Yufonso Chess Academy, both in their second grade at New Northmead and Presbyperian school respectively, finished first and second with the third position going to Esther Banda of Holy Cross Convent School, who accumulated 2.5pts.
Meanwhile, Lusaka Province Chess Association (LPCA) chairperson Bwalya Chileya said he was pleased that the association was meeting its objectives of having more female and children participants in the chess tournaments.
Chileya said the tournament have also helped keep the senior players active for international events.