Malawi’s top ranked chess player, Joseph Mwale – who is based in South Africa – wants to come and defend his Chess Association of Malawi (CHESSAM) National Championship title but is torn between a rock and a hard following the closure of all land borders for two weeks starting from December 23.
In an interview, Mwale says he plans to take a two-months break from his base where he plies his trade as a chess coach to honour his title defense as well as join his family over the festive season.
He planned to return to South Africa in February hoping that the COVID-19 situation in his host country would have improved.
Mwale is liaising with the Malawi Embassy in South Africa for the way forward following Malawi’s Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 that has put strict measures for the festive season that include closing all land borders for two weeks starting from December 23 except for essential goods transportation, deportees and those in special circumstances.
Tuesday’s situation report from the task force’s co-chairperson, Dr. John Phuka also says Malawians and residents can return to Malawi upon production of an original certified valid COVID-19 negative test result.
“I will check with embassy again, I was there on Wednesday and they gave me a travel document. I gather there is too much traffic to Malawi and people are taking longer at the borders.
“Otherwise the best option is to fly in but it’s also fully booked. I delayed in booking.I plan to come anyway because my dad wants me to join the family for the festive season,” he said.
Meanwhile, CHESSAM president Susan Namangale has emphasized that strict COVID-19 preventive measures will be observed during the physical on the board national championship to be held at Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe on December 27-30.
She said this amid the rising cases, the association shall meet all requirements including social distancing since the tournament only has about 45 players that qualified.
The Open Section has 30 players — 10 each from the three affiliate leagues and five each for the Ladies Section.
In the Northern Region Chess League open section has Ronald Chimkute, Willard Msendema, Leonard Sharra, Emmanuel Kalua, Seko Soko, Wilson Chingati, Boniface Mwakikunga, Joseph Jere, Chimwemwe Lumbani and Innocent Chirwa.
Its ladies are Annie Simwaba, Tina Kumwenda, Lexa Shaba and Heather Manda.
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The Central Region representatives are Candidate Master CM Alfred Chimthere, CM Petros Mfune, CM George Mwale, Richard Chiona, Fiskani Mwagomba, Ernest Matola, Stanford Chibambo, Fidelis Jimu, Hope Mwazozo and Emmanuel Msowoya.
Its ladies are Woman Fide Master (WFM) Linda Chaononga, Woman Candidate (WCM) Ellen Mpinganjira, Shalom Kapende, Tapiwa Banda and Praise Mbewe.
The South has CM Chiletso Chipanga, CM Joseph Nyambalo, CM Precious Kamwendo, James Kamowa, Ishmael Harrison, Stanley Biyasi, Amos Chigowo, John Mkumba, Francisco Mwangupili, Ryan Macjessie and Candidate Master.
The ladies are Caroline Trapence, Tupokiwe Msukwa, Lucy Chazemba, Ruth Matambo and Rachel Jyloss.
CHESSAM publicity secretary Alfred Chinthere said Malawi junior chess players who missed the regional qualifiers due to their participation in continental and global online chess events, have also been granted a reprieve to contest at this national event.
He also said CHESSAM president Namangale has nominated four players for the finals Fide Master Gerald Mphungu, Priyasha Santosh, Praise Kalambo and Charity Tadeyo.
“The National Championship is an annual event which is also used to select national chess team to represent the country at international events.
“CHESSAM would like to thank corporate partners who have financially supported the tournament — Malawi National Council of Sports, Crossroads Hotel and MyBucks Bank,” Chimthere said.