Interview with Bassem Amin, African Champion

by Priyadarshan Banjan
6/8/2015 – In May Grandmaster Bassem Amin, with an Elo of 2634 Egypt's number one, won the African Individual Chess Championships for the third time. Priyadarshan Banyan used the opportunity to ask the new African Champion who currently is doing military service in the Egyptian army to comment on his career, chess in Africa, and chess in Egypt.

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An Interview with GM Bassem Amin

Bassem Amin (black) on his way to became African Champion

Priyadarshan Banjan: How do you feel about winning the African Chess Championships?

Bassem Amin: Of course, I feel  happy to have become the African chess champion for the third time (2009, 2013, 2015). The African Individuals Championship is the strongest tournament on the continent and by winning it I qualified for World Cup.

PB: When did you learn chess?

Bassem: I started to play chess when I was five years old. My father taught me how to move the pieces, and when he saw my great interest in the game, he started to bring professional coaches. That was the start of a wonderful chess journey that brought many pleasant memories and a number of titles. Most notably, I became Arab Men’s Champion three times (2005, 2006, 2013), African Champion three times, and Mediterranean Chess champion in 2014. In the World Youth Championship U18 in 2006 I won the bronze medal, and two years later, I won bronze again at the World Juniors.

Bassem Amin at the Chess Olympiad 2014 in Tromso

PB: What are your plans now?

Bassem: I am currently in the Egyptian army doing one year of military service. I joined the army on 28th January, 2015. It's a new experience and during the first two months it was quite hard. Then I joined the sport center in the army and was able to get back to chess: in April I took part in the World Team Championship, then I played the African individuals. These were my first tournaments since last November!

PB: Could you share some of your thoughts on chess culture in Egypt with us…

Bassem: Chess is getting more popular in Egypt, however, the government could support it more. We have no coach for the National team, and the players in the national team get no fees for team events like the Olympiad or the World Team Championship.

PB: What would you recommend to promote young talents in your country and in Africa?

Bassem: I think the best way to get new young talents is to introducing chess in schools programs. I think this should be a top priority for the Egyptian Chess Federation and all African federations willing to make chess more popular.

Impressions from the African Individual Championship

The African Individual Chess Championship 2015 took place from 2nd to 12th May in Cairo. It was a nine round swiss event with a time limit of 90 minutes for 40 moves followed by 30 minutes to finish the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move from move one. The Egyptian Chess Federation organized the event on behalf of the African Chess Confederation and FIDE. 30 players started in the open, 22 in the Women's tournament, among them almost all top players from the continent. The winner of the open section qualified for the World Cup 2015.

An Egyptian painting depicting the ancient game ‘Senet’.

Unfortunately, due to FIDE sanctions against South Africa the defending champion GM Kenny Solomon from South Africa could not make the trip to Cairo. But he congratulated the winner: “Definitely, despite the sanctions there is hope. The people working on chess are good at heart! I think the problem is related to the system within rather than people. All chess players who would like to represent SA and play internationally are affected and are troubled by this. I am very positive that I will get another chance someday. I am happy that GM Bassem Amin won the event. He is a great champion and Africa’s best!"

Second seed GM Ahmed Adly (right, playing black) from Egypt finished second for
the second year in a row. In round six he lost a crucial game against Algerian
GM Mohamed Haddoucche. In the end Adly shared first place with 7.0/9 but was second on tie-break.

The Algerian IM Adlane Arab (left, playing with White) remained undefeated and finished third with 6.5/9.

Third seed GM Mohamed Haddouche (right, playing black) scored 6.0/9 and became fourth.

GM Samy Shoker finished ninth with 5.0/9.

Final Rankings (Open)


Rk.   Name FED RtgI Pts.  TB1   TB2 
1 GM Amin Bassem EGY 2633 7.0 0.5 50.0
2 GM Adly Ahmed EGY 2593 7.0 0.5 49.0
3 IM Arab Adlane ALG 2439 6.5 0.0 48.0
4 GM Haddouche Mohamed ALG 2492 6.0 0.0 48.0
5 IM Belouadah Saad ALG 2351 6.0 0.0 40.0
6 IM Abdel Razik Khaled EGY 2430 5.5 0.0 47.0
7 IM Ezat Mohamed EGY 2474 5.5 0.0 45.0
8 IM Farahat Ali EGY 2390 5.5 0.0 43.5
9 GM Shoker Samy EGY 2484 5.0 0.0 47.0
10 IM Abdelnabbi Imed EGY 2421 5.0 0.0 44.5
11 IM Ameir Moheb EGY 2290 5.0 0.0 43.5
12 IM Elgabry Mohsen EGY 2325 5.0 0.0 43.0
13 IM Adu Oladapo NGR 2238 5.0 0.0 42.0
14 CM Kigigha Bomo NGR 2301 5.0 0.0 40.5
15   Nafri Khalil MAR 2230 5.0 0.0 36.0
16 IM Hesham Abdelrahman EGY 2389 4.5 0.0 47.0
17 GM El Gindy Essam EGY 2450 4.5 0.0 47.0
18 FM Kayonde Andrew ZAM 2374 4.5 0.0 42.5
19 CM Nadir Samir SUD 2136 4.5 0.0 39.5
20 FM Amdouni Zoubaier TUN 2338 4.0 0.0 41.5
21 IM Oatlhotse Providence BOT 2271 4.0 0.0 35.5
22   Choukri Adel MAR 2231 3.5 0.0 41.5
23 CM Abuzied Ahmed SUD 2187 3.5 0.0 40.5
24   Dzilani Abel BOT 2049 3.5 0.0 33.0
25   Almahjoub Mokhtar LBA 2110 3.5 0.0 33.0


In the decisive game of the women's tournament WGM Mona Khaled won against top seed and defending champion, WGM Wafa Shrook from Egypt.

Playing with white did not help Wafa Shrook (left) against Mona Khaled.

In the end Mona Khaled won the tournament with a phenomenal  result of 9.0/9!

Final Ranking

Rk.   Name FED RtgI Pts.  TB1   TB2 
1 WGM Mona Khaled EGY 2125 9.0 0.0 49.0
2 WIM Mezioud Amina ALG 2083 6.5 1.0 49.5
3 WIM Latreche Sabrina ALG 2037 6.5 0.0 45.0
4 WGM Wafa Shrook EGY 2160 5.5 0.0 50.0
5 WCM Elansary Eman EGY 1863 5.5 0.0 47.0
6 WIM Wafa Shahenda EGY 2101 5.0 0.0 51.0
7   Mohsen Hend EGY 1754 5.0 0.0 46.0
8 WFM Mwango Lorita ZAM 1968 5.0 0.0 44.5
9   Rania Sbai MAR 0 5.0 0.0 44.5
10   Elgohary Myada EGY 1708 5.0 0.0 44.5
11   Ehab Tasneem EGY 1760 5.0 0.0 39.0
12   Mayar Elidrissi Firdaous MAR 0 4.5 0.0 42.5
13 WIM Hamza Amira ALG 1944 4.0 0.0 42.0
14 WIM Francis Onkemetse BOT 1759 4.0 0.0 33.5
15 WCM Rabiu Olabisi NGR 1543 4.0 0.0 31.5
16 WIM Botlhole Kgalalelo BOT 1785 4.0 0.0 30.5
17 WGM Sabure Tuduetso BOT 1879 3.5 0.0 40.5
18   Matoussi Amani TUN 1610 3.5 0.0 33.0
19   Ibrahimi Khadija MAR 0 3.0 1.0 31.0
20   Ibtihal Mohammed SUD 1410 3.0 0.0 30.5
21   Tayseer Mohammed SUD 1459 1.5 0.0 31.5
22 WCM Nasreldin Zeinab SUD 1577 1.0 0.0 34.5


WIM Kgalalelo Botlhole (Botswana)

WCM Rabiu Olabisi (Nigeria) vs. WFM Mwango Lorita (Zambia)

The winners GM Bassem Amin, WGM Mona Khaled and GM Ahmed Adly with their trophies, flanked by dignitaries

All photos from the Facebook page of the African Chess Confederation

Priyadarshan Banjan is a 23-year-old club player from India. He works as an editor for ChessBase News and ChessBase India. He is a chess fanatic and an avid fan of Vishy Anand. He also maintains a blog on a variety of topics.


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