South African players crowned in Mauritius

5/12/2016 – The Africa Zone 4.3 Chess Championships under the auspices of the African Chess Confederation took place in Mauritius at the RIU Le Morne beach resort from the 23rd April to 2nd May 2016. The tropical Indian Ocean Island is more famed as a beach holiday destination than as organiser of FIDE continental chess tournaments, yet the result was an event in a paradisiacal setting.

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South African players crowned in Mauritius

By Patrick Li Ying

Photos by Paras Gudka/Patrick Li Ying/Ronald Raimbert

The venue RIU le More resort

Le More beach

The Mauritius Chess Federation took the challenge to invite players from the sub-Saharan region to its shores for its maiden international debut, and it was a resounding success for both the organizers and the players.

The chess event attracted 16 players in the Open section and 10 players from the Women section from five countries: namely Mauritius, Madagascar, South Africa, Botswana and Angola. Half of the field boasted FIDE titles ranging from Candidate Master, Fide Master and International Master, making it the strongest chess tournament ever held on the island. The top seed in the Open category was the two-time African Junior Champion, International Master David Silva (2342) from Angola and Woman Fide Master Jesse February (1891) from South Africa in the Ladies category.

Angolan team led by two times Africa Junior Chess Champion International Master David Silva

Technical meeting in the Kulinarium Playing hall

Bangalore playing hall

South African delegation

The players enjoyed playing in the two beautiful venues, the Kulinarium and Bangalore restaurants, unperturbed by the scenic view of the Indian Ocean. Local player Fide Master Roy Phillips (2223) was in the leading pack in the Open section till the sixth round when he stumbled into defeat against CM Manuel Alberto (2195) from Angola. Untitled player from South Africa, Ryan Van Rensburg (2178), took a lead which he never relinquished after beating two of his closest rivals CM  Barileng Gaealafshwe (2203), the current Botswana national champion, and Paulino Domingos (2178) from Angola. Ryan drew against the two Angolans, IM David Silva and Erikson Soares (2265) before finishing with two fine wins against young Milanto Harifidy Ralison (2132) from Madagascar and Jeroen Koster (1866) from Mauritius. Ryan Van Rensburg finished clear first on 7.0/9, thereby earning the International Master title and the US$1,000 first prize.

South Africa official players: Jesse February and Ryan Van Rensburgh

Ryan Van Rensburgh in deep thought in his game against IM Erikson Soares

Madagascar player Milanto Ralison

The Angolan delegation took the next four places, with IM Erikson Soares in the runner-up position with 6.5/9 and Paulino Domingos, CM Manuel Alberto and IM David Silva finishing on 6.0/9. Paulino and Manuel obtained FIDE  Master titles for their efforts as the FIDE Zonal tournaments are one of the rare opportunities for African players to get international titles directly.

The open air backdrop of the beach and Indian Ocaen made for a paradisiacal setting

IM Erikson Soares (Angola) ponders his move with a scenic back ground of the Indian ocean

In the Women's section the winner was WFM Jesse February (South Africa) who just edged on tie-break her compatriot WIM Anzel Laubscher, with both finishing on 8.0/9. Jesse was undefeated in the tournament and she was  deservedly crowned as the winner and a newly minted Woman International Master.

In third place we saw young Inge Marx (South Africa) who threatened to run away with the title after an explosive 6.0/6 start but she ran out of steam after facing the top three seeds WFM Jesse February, WIM Anzel Laubscher and WIM Onkemetse Francis in the last three rounds. Inge held on to finish in third place on 7.0/9, earning the Woman Fide Master title.

Inge Marx had a perfect start but could not maintain the rhythm against her higher-rated rivals

The Kulinarium playing hall

WIM Onkemetse Francis

A special shout out must be made to the arbiters who ran a smooth operation

The closing ceremony took place in the presence of Mauritian Minister of Youth and Sports Mr Yogida Sawmynaden who remitted the trophies, sponsored by the Mauritius Commercial Bank, to the winners. Mr Hurrynarain Bhowany the President of the Mauritius Chess Federation was pleased that the organisation of a first international chess tournament on the island went smoothly and that the foreign guests enjoyed very much the exotic RIU beach resort venue and he hopes that in a near future an International Open tournament could be held there.

Beach, sun, crystalline water.... what more could you want?

Chief Arbiter Stephen Kisuze of Uganda (far left) relaxing in company of Vincent Masole, Barileng
and Onkemetse from Botswana as well as Aamirah Beekhy (Mauritius) during the free day

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Topics Africa, Mauritius
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