A total cash prize money of 2.5 million Naira will be on offer at the Grand Finale of the second edition of the Mindgames Premier Championship scheduled to hold at the Lagos Country Club from November 10 to 11 this year.
Contestants will compete in chess and scrabble where winners have been guaranteed a cash prize of 500,000 each in both sports while the first runners up will go home with 250,000.
Organisers said players who finish in the top 10 position will also get various cash prizes.
Regional qualifying tournaments were held in Sapele, Port Harcourt, Abuja and Lagos earlier in the year to determine players who will qualify for the Grand Finale.
The Mindgames Premier Championship is the brainchild of former Scrabble World No.9 Lukmon Owolabi who said the tournament was designed to deepen and develop the intellectual capacity of individuals especially students in
the country and beyond.
The Chess Pro tour will enter a crucial stage with the commencement of the Masters’ Series (a.k.a Battle of the Titans) event between IM Olufemi Balogun and IM Oladapo Adu, the battle between Former Nigerian national Champions which will hold at the Orchid Hotels and Event Center Lekki on the 12th of May, 2018.
Amongst the notable achievements of the seasoned Olufemi Balogun who has a 2255 FIDE ratng, and he’s also Chess Pro Tour Card holder as well as the highest ranked on the Pro Tour. He also holds the distinction of being the only African or Nigerian to play against a current world champion, although he eventually lost the match against Magnus Carlson, the current FIDE World Champion during the 2017 Fide World Cup.
On the other hand IM Oladapo Adu, who has a 2273 FIDE rating is also a former national champion who has represented Nigeria in many Olympiads. Adu qualified to play in the 31st Chess Olympiad in Moscow and became the Nigerian national champion in 1995. Adu also qualified for the 32nd Chess Olympiad, but Nigeria withdrew due to lack of resources. He has since played in further Olympiads for Nigeria,
including the 33rd Chess Olympiad.
In 2015, Adu qualified for the Chess World Cup 2015, but he was knocked out in the first round by Veselin Topalov.
The Pro Chess Tour is an elite program developed to transform chess into a professional sport in Africa and especially Nigeria. The tour comprises of the following circuit of events; Q-SCHOOL, OPEN CHESS CLASSICS (OCC), the Premiere League, the Masters’ Series and the Grand Slam
A private initiative to stimulate the pool of talents Nigeria is blessed with in the sport of Chess has introduced a series of championships that will throw up established and budding chess players in the country.
The championships tagged “Chess Pro Tour” will begin on the 30th of March and end on the 16th of December,2018 offering Chess enthusiasts the longest event calendar in the history of the sport in Nigeria.
At the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the sport property owner Fijiventures and Orchid Hotels that is the official venue partner of the tour, the events for the year were also revealed to the admiration of other stakeholders present.
The Managing Director of Fijiventures Limited Mr Joachim Idada who is the brain behind the tour is excited to be back after a long hiatus from the sport he promoted years back in primary and secondary schools in Lagos
“Chess is life and it is a dream come true to be introducing professionalism into chess again, the chess tour will be giving the youths of Nigeria the opportunity to play the game, learn and also earn something for a living as you can see that the theme for the tour is “Changing lives”.
On his part, Reverend Jonathan Ordega who is the Chairman of Orchid Hotels canvassed more support for sports that have the potential to develop the nation like chess.
“Chess is one game I love a lot because it teaches you about the reality of life, when it appears you are winning watch your back, so as a nation we must embrace what will develop our capacity to compete favourably with other nations,it is quite unfortunate that in Africa we spend so much money on dance and music but we need to realise that the world is going STEM an acronym for Science,Technology,Engineering and Mathematics”which are part of the values Chess embedded in the the game of Chess”.
The tour will adopt its own ranking system according to the head of technical team Obinna Ogbonaya “we won’t be using the FIDE ranking for the tour rather we have chosen an innovative way to rank the players which is by their earnings through out the tour”.
Entries from all over the country are welcome by the organisers who are ready to go all the way in the tour which comprises Players Championship, Masters’Series, Grand Slam and the Premier League.
The organisers have also concluded plans with an online media organisation ASENN TV to transmit Live some of the Championships that made up the Tour on Facebook and YouTube.
Last week Sunday was another mile stone for dominant National Female Chess Champion, Toritshemuwa Ofowino, when she emerged as the winner of the First Lady’s Chess tournament organised for all female chess players in the country.
The one week event, which was held at the Obafemi Awolowo Stadium in Ibadan was sponsored by one of the legions of the brain game from USA, Mr. Ayo Oguntuase, in honour of the wife of the President of Nigeria Chess Federation (NCF), Mrs. Adebola Adeyemi, to raise the gender awareness of the game in the country, had the dominant female star maintained her status among her peers.
The tournament which was a combination of Swiss and knockout pairing had Ofowino led the pack till round five with 3.5 points to move into the money spinning knockout phase starting with the quarter final stage alongside Labake Coker, Peace Sampson, Assa Oluwaseun, Vivian Dzaayem, Deborah Akintoye, Doris Adebayo and Nkem Omishogbon.
While Ofoniwo edged out veteran Dzaayem, former national female champion, Coker proved better against Sampson just as Akintoye won against Omishogbon and Adebayo lost to Assa.
In the semi final setting, it was a clash of the former and current female champions as Ofoniwo had to dig deep to edged out Coker in 1.5-1.0 result just as Akintoye was better in the other semi final match against Assa before the dominant chess star in the final match in a grand style in the presence of large number of chess enthusiast present at venue and thousands who followed the daily live streaming of the cerebral sport online.
In his closing remarks, the NCF President, Mr. Lekan Adeyemi, commended the sponsor, Mr. Oguntuase, for coming to the aid of the federation in the development and promotion of the game in the country. He advised all the participants not to limit their chess prowess at playing against each other but needs to play in the stronger pool of men as a step towards international domination.
Cash prizes were given out to all the winners in the main event and those who continued to complete the Nine-round Swiss event.
International Master Oladapo Adu showed shades of his genius on the big the big stage following the massive victory at the just concluded Millionaire Chess Championship at the Chevron Recreation Centre, Gbagada, Lagos.
Playing in the pool of best players in the country, Adu opted something different, he played different openings in the tournament, with the English opening as white and Queens Gambit most used during the grueling nine-round Swiss event pairing which he won convincingly to pave way into the final knockout phase which he also won.
The feat means that Adu who has triumphed in six previous tournaments among his contemporaries, has won the ticket to represent the country at the forth coming Millionaire Chess Open in Atlantic City, USA this October.
“Its the Lord’s doing for all the successes I have achieved in the last one year in Chess. This is the seventh time that i will emerge top in a major tournament among my other rivals,” Baku Chess Olympiad bound Adu commented after the victory.
After securing a quarterfinal slot by scoring 7.5 points from nine rounds to lead other contenders in to the final knockout phase, Adu dismissed Udeme Edet in three straight wins to hit the semifinal and won against fellow Baku bound chess Olympiad Dr. Adeyinka Adesina with same result.
The defining moment of his triumph came in the final match against ambitious FIDE Master Daniel Anwuli. The champion had to dig deep after being down to half out of two points in the rapid, I needed to win the two blitz games to become the overall tournament champion with a 2.5-1.5 thereby securing the ticket to the Millionaire Chess championship in Atlantic city, New Jersey, USA.
In his closing remarks, the President of Nigeria Chess Federation (NCF), Mr. Lekan Adeyemi, commended all the participants including the other category of players for their comportment all through the four-day event.
He enjoined them not to lose focus on the plans the present board of NCF has for them inspite of non availability of funds from the Sports Ministry since the inception of the current board of the federation.
“We hope to organise more rated tournaments event even after the World Chess Olympiad aimed at making more aspiring players to improve on their ratings and earn titles,” he remarked.
The 2nd edition of the much anticipated Millionaire Chess Championship gets underway from today with all the notable chess players in line for particpation at the Chevron Recreational Center, Gbagada Lagos.
As expected, it will be a fierce battle among the top ranked players to pick the sole winner of an all expense paid trip to USA and participate at the forth coming Millionaire Chess Open in Atlantic City USA in October.
International Master Bunmi Olape who won the maiden edition and was part of the galaxy of chess stars that participated in the main event held Las Vegas last October will no doubt have stiff opposition from the emerging rank of players who are aiming to dislodge the old order.
“It was a unique experience last year in Las Vegas and I will be glad if I can win again but knowing fully well that the road to glory just like in the last edition will be tough but I am equal to the task,” he responded in a telephone interview last night.
Top players like International Master Oladapo Adu, Bomo Kigigha, Abimbola Osunfuyi, Daniel Anwuli, Adeyinka Adesina, Ochuko Emuakpeje, Adebayo Adegboyega, Ademola Sorungbe are among players likely to be part of the event.
According to the President of Nigeria Chess Federation (NCF), Mr. Lekan Adeyemi, “the event is an initiative of Kasparov Chess Foundation (KCF) which also intends to put promising chess players on the continent to play at tournament on the global level aside the regular World Chess Olympiad and annual World Chess Championships,” he remarked.
However, only players registered with African Chess Federations are eligible to win the satellite ticket to the Millionaire Chess Open in Atlantic City which will come up from 6th-10th October this year.
Aside the main event, there are also side tournaments such as top two finishers in the youth category will qualify to represent Nigeria at the World youth 2016 Russia and African youth 2016 South Africa but the players need to be members of Nigeria Chess Federation prior to 10 July 2016 in order to be eligible.as well as chess prizes.
In the prize list made available last night, the second placed player will recieve a cash prize of N50, 000 just as N40, 000, N30, 000 and N20, 000 would be available for other winners respectively.
Consolation reward of N10, 000 each to 6th-10th placed winners are on the card just as Best Lady will receive a cash prize of N30,000 and N20, 000 for runner up while best junior player will take home N10,000
a International Master Oladapo Adu (2314) and FIDE Master Bomo Kigigha (2328) are among other eight players that will represent the country at the forth coming 42nd World Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan later this year.
According to the statement from Nigeria Chess Federation (NCF) yesterday, the duo alongside three other male players namely; the rave of the moment and FIDE Master Daniel Anwuli (2338), Candidate Master Adeyinka Adesina (2286) and Ochuko Emuakpeje with elo rating of 2272.
The five female players that qualified for the tournament are; Omolola Sadiku (1910), Deborah Akintoye (1856), Toritsemuwa Ofowino (1779), Olufunmilayo Akinola (1751) and Mandy Enarevba (1710).
The following top players however missed out in the Olympiad train namely; Adebayo Adegboyega (2271), Olufemi Balogun (2262), Odion Aikhoje (2253) and Ademola Sorungbe (2246). Some top female players that missed out are Omolabake Coker (1660), Sandra Aramide (1648), Doris Adebayo (1612) and Olabisi Rabiu (1609).
The tournament will hold in Baku, the birth place of former World Chess Champion, Gary Kasparov from 1st-15th of September this year and most pundits have seen the method of selection by NCF as a clear departure from the past when a traditional Olympiad trial hold sway.
However the Technical Director of the federation, Alhaji Bode Durotoye, explained that the qualification process of the team was based on the current FIDE rating list released on the 1st of June and the activeness of players in tournaments in a stipulated calendar year.
“In the past, we have invited players for either open trial or selected trial based on their ratings but we have realized that it’s more like a tournament that only produce winners by any means of a tournament rather that genuine form of individual players that will give the country a good representation at the biennial tournament,” he explained.
In the last two years, the Lekan Adeyemi led board in collaboration with the Chess Players Association of Nigeria (CPAN) has organized several rated tournaments which is unprecedented in the history of the cerebral sport in the country and players have been more active in the recent times to give way to selection based of merit over time rather that producing winners to the the tournament which most time is subjective.
NCF boss, Lekan Adeyemi also explained that with over 30 FIDE rated tournaments in the last one and a half years is quite enough to get the best players put them in camp for training for a period of time before the Chess Olympiad.
“We need to get the players in camp before the event in Baku and based on the report from the Technical Committee all hands must be on deck to ensure good outing by the players. As a former athlete, I feel for all those who missed out but we can only be fair enough to everybody,” he explained.
Plans are underway to get the team in camp in mid August but the venue of the camp is yet to be decided as at the time of this report.