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Gillian Bwalya wins 2015 Zimbabwe Chess Open Championships

Report by Oliver Shalala

International Master Gillian Bwalya today became the latest Zambian to win the Zimbabwe Open Chess Championship which was hosted at Holiday Inn Harare and sponsored by Kasparov Chess Foundation Africa.

And 6 Zambians finished in the top 10 places of the tournament when defending champion IM Kelvin Chumfwa finished in 3rd with places 6th to 9th going to Zambians FM Richmond Phiri, IM Chitumbo Mwali, Michael Kaoma and Kaulule Siame Kela respectively.

Bwalya, popularly known as ‘Captain Chalie’, managed the draw he needed in the last round against Zimbabwe’s Emarald Takudzwa Mushore, to end the tournament on 7 points out of 9 rounds. Full standings below.

Chitumbo Mwali vs Gillian Bwalya during the 2015 ZIM Open

Chitumbo Mwali vs Gillian Bwalya during the 2015 ZIM Open (Photo by Linus Katebe)

The humble and unassuming chess genius’ win extends the iron grip Zambians have had on this trophy with IM Kelvin Chumfwa having won it last year. This year saw Zimbabwean players push till the last round with their patriotism to their country translating to their gallantry on the chess board to try and “bring trophy home” or ensure “the Zimbabwe Open trophy remains in Zimbabwe”.

This is the second major title the Nkwazi Chess Club talisman has won since he came back from police training at Lilayi mid last year. In October, he beat the whole stellar field of Zambian chess players to win the tightly contested 2014 Zambia Open Chess Championship held at OYDC in Lusaka and walk away with K10,000 and a winner’s trophy.

However, in December he performed badly when he failed to make the national team that went for the Africa Individual Chess Championships in Namibia having lost all his games during the trials.

Gillian Bwalya being interviewed by GM Susan Polgar

Zambia’s Gillian Bwalya being interviewed by GM Susan Polgar (Photo by Susan Polgar)

Gillian Bwalya probably became known to the world after his creditable 7/10 performance at the 2012 World Chess Olympiads which netted him the FM title. The Zambian chess player then went on to do well at such tournaments as the Botswana Open, Capablanca Open Prestige before winning the Zone 4.3 tournament in Botswana to earn his IM title.

That gave him the right to represent Zambia and Africa at the August 2013 Chess World Cup in Tromso, Norway, where he faced chess legend and former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik. His world cup appearance made him the third Zambian to do so after GM Amon Simutowe and IM Stanley Chumfwa.

Vladimir Kramnik on the move against Bwalya

Vladimir Kramnik on the move against Bwalya

Final standings:

1 IM Bwalya Gillan ZAM 2294 – 7
2 IM Makoto Rodwell ZIM 2327 – 6.5
3 IM Chumfwa Kelvin ZAM 2189 – 6.5
4 IM Oatlhotse Providence BOT 2200 – 6.5
5 Mushore Emarald ZIM 2231 – 6
6 FM Phiri Richmond ZAM 2143 – 6
7 IM Mwali Chitumbo ZAM 2293 – 5.5
8 Kaoma Michael ZAM 2046 – 5.5
9 Masango Spencer ZIM 2146 – 5.5
10 Kaulule Siame Kela ZAM 2136 – 5.5
11 Kahoba Lewis ZIM 0 – 5.5
12 Janyure Farai ZIM 0 – 5
13 Sibanda Castro ZIM 0 – 5
14 Phiri Godwin ZAM 2167 – 5
13 Mangono Mufaro ZIM 0 – 5
16 Chimanzi Ronald ZIM 0 – 5
17 CM Moyo Dion ZIM 2161 – 4.5
18 Chimbamu Elisha ZIM 2117 – 4.5
19 Sithole Gift Never ZIM 0 – 4.5
20 CM Dimba James ZAM 2103 – 4
21 Maketo Albert ZIM 0 – 4
22 Elisha Thabo ZIM 0 – 4
23 Katebe Linus ZAM 2123 – 4
24 FM Thato Olebile BOT 2207 – 4
25 Sagonda Phineas ZIM 0 – 4
26 Sibanda Kudakwashe ZIM 0 – 4
27 Gumbe Farirai ZIM 0 – 3.5
28 Ziome Munashe ZIM 0 – 3.5
29 Mudzingwa Takunda ZIM 1479 – 3.5
30 Mandeya Hamilton ZIM 0 – 3
31 Moyo Lloyd ZIM 0 – 3
32 Chivende Isaac ZIM 0 – 3
33 Mpofu Edmund ZIM 0 – 1
34 Manyanya Kudzaishe ZIM 1828 – 0

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