Chess in Afghanistan

2/4/2006 – Chess arose in this region a millinum and a half ago. In the turbulences of recent years the game was sadly neglected, but now is slowly returning to Afghanistan. The country has five chess clocks, two FMs and one 2200 player. At the Olympiad most of the team was recruited from ex patriot Afghanis during the rounds. Ali Nihat Yazici tells the tale.

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Afghanistan, a country with some
sad stories but many successes ...

By Ali Nihat Yazici

We all know the great troubles that Afghanistan has faced in the last three decades : wars, earthquakes, poverty and more... Located in Southern Asia, north and west of Pakistan, and east of Iran with a population of around 30 million people the country has seen a great deal in the last years.

However, throughout all this strife the Afghanistan Chess Federation has managed to overcome lots of problems to establish a presence both locally and in the international arena.


Bekkat Azeddinn on the right in Istanbul – World Juniors 2005 – the young future of Afghanistan

None of these problems have affected the Afghan chess lovers to forget our eminent game of chess. They have returned back to chess arena at the first moment there was an opportunity.


Asefi Zaheeruddeen, FM, Elo 2055, first board for Afghanistan

The Afghanistan Chess Federation has become very active in the last three years. They participated in the 36th Chess Olympiad with the men’s team. As every other team in the Olympiad they were able to make up a team of 4 + 2!! But two means only the players they actually had. Asefi Zaheeruddeen, the board one of the Afghanistan National Team told us following story.


Asefi plays against GM Nguyen Anh Dung from Vietnam in Esfahan Asian Team Championships

In Calvià during the beautiful Autumn of 2004, the Afghan national team could not make it to the first and second rounds. The team (!) with only two boards arrived and started to play in round three. Although they had managed to choose the team for the Olympiad, the Federation could not afford the travelling cost to Calvia. After round three Asafi and his team mate Jamshedy Mohammad Ismail started to call Afghans in Europe. They found some other chess talents and soon they had a third board, Ayyoubi Saifudin. Then the fourth, Alemyar Mohammad Aziz, who arrived in time for round five.


Asafi tells the story about Calvia in Iran in the Hotel lobby.

Asafi did not give up with trying to find a full team. He called around all his contacts every day. Do you know whom he found for the fifth board? It was the ex-Deputy Prime Minister of Afghanistan, the Hon Kooshani Mahboobullah, current leader of SAZA party in Afghanistan and a great chess fan.


Afghan Delegation in Esfahan getting their lunch

The Ex-Deputy PM joined the Olympiad in Calvia by the 6th round. Now the wonderful news is that he has made 7 out of 9 and got both a title and rating. He has also made 5th place overall on the 5th board.

Rd. Name Elo FED Rp Pts Res Brd
6 Charlotte Dynise 0 SEY 1193 0.5 w 1 4
7 Freeman Nigel 0 BER 1699 2.0 s 1 4
8 Saleem Zayd 0 ISV 1223 0.0 s 1 4
9 Flanders Cander 0 AHO 1983 4.5 w 1 4
10 De Asa Virgilio 2205 FIJ 1327 0.5 s 1 4
11 Edirisinghe Dulan 2175 SRI 2166 4.5 w 0 4
12 Seegolam Pradeep 2200 MRI 1873 5.5 w 1 4
13 Lorne Malaku 2110 JAM 2020 5.0 s 0 4
14 Hakizimana Jean Baptiste 0 RWA 1642 2.0 w 1 4

You can check all results of the Afghani team here

The Rated players of Afghanistan in the FIDE rating list on the 1st January 2006 were:

Name Title Fed Rtg B-Year
 Ibrahim, Ismail   AFG 2200  
 Ayyoubi, Saifudin   AFG 2148  
 Kooshani, Mahbuboollah FM AFG 2115 1945
 Asefi, Zaheeruddeen FM AFG 2055 1965
 Jamshedy, Mohammad Ismail   AFG 2001 1944
 Nuristani, A. Dr.   AFG 1982 1933
 Faiz, Mohammad Faizi   AFG 1934  
 Sarwary, Hamidullah   AFG 1925  
 Safi, Zarif   AFG 1876 1964

Osman Babrak, The General Secretary of Afghanistan Chess Federation has told me that they have only five clocks in country. Five mechanic clocks!! Our motto is Gens Una Sumus! What kind of family are we or what kind of family have we become? Will we close our eyes and be happy with the situation of countries like Afghanistan?


Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan

There is so much that needs to be done and this has to be done through concrete programs to develop chess and understanding the problems that these countries face. It takes a high degree of commitment from FIDE but moreso it takes a proper recognition of the priorities in the chess world. We must all be willing to dedicate our efforts to bringing about change in these countries since the game of chess apart from the pleasure it brings, also helps develop a nation starting from young children and going up to the highest levels.

Ali Nihat Yazici is a electronics and communication engineer and is the head of the Turkish Radio Television Corporation. As the president of TCF Ali has succeeded in making chess part of the curriculum in all primary schools in Turkey. He is the running mate to Dutch businessman Bessel Kok for the FIDE Presidential election next May. Full details can be found at:

Previous ChessBase reports on Afghanistan


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