The knights of Africa (part 2)

by Alina l'Ami
8/14/2018 – Photojournalist and IM ALINA l'AMI continues her reflection (see Part 1) on the Ivory Coast Rapid & Blitz Invitational, with gorgeous photos and a unique story recounting what the tournament winner, Bassem Amin, calls "the best tournament in Africa". | All photos: Alina l'Ami

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Ivory Coast Rapid & Blitz Invitational

...Continued from Part 1

To get smarter you must face smart opposition and this is one of the many boxes the tournament in Ivory Coast ticked. For the first time ever on the African soil, some of the very best players from North to South and East to West gathered in the same room to measure their forces.

Kenny Soloman

It's not an experiment if you know it's going to work

IM Andrew Kayonde:

"By its very nature, the CIV Rapid and Blitz Invitational Tourney was a mini school of hard knocks which has opened my eyes to some of the things I took for granted in my chess. The rare opportunity of ten champions gathering in one single event and all bringing different skill sets to the table has really showered lessons that are bound to transform me into a totally different and stronger player than I was prior to the event".

Andrew Kayonde

IM Andrew Kayonde left Abidjan an inspired man

Being accustomed to winning everything across the continent, the players were really pumped up for the race. Some used their peaceful assets, Bassem means “the smiley one” in Arabic, while others took out the "assault rifles" as it was the case of "AK47" (based on the previously fallen GMs scalps) — also known as Andrew Kayonde.

Keeping the proportions, it was a kind of Grand Chess Tour in black and white (and in long sleeves)!


Professional tournament, professional look

A more subtle difference though came in the shape of the players' hyperactive and supportive WhatsApp group. It may well be a cultural thing but also a beautiful example of, as Kenny Soloman said, "how chess impacts positively on the lives of those who play it".

group photo

The spirits were high regardless of the results

To my shame, before the tournament, I couldn't attach a face to seven out of the ten names on the players' list. After the tournament, we parted friends.

crazy fish dinner

Caption competition anyone?!

local food stalls

The grilled chicken, fish and even (massive!) snails ended our days on a delicious note

But I digress...the chess!

OK, let me return to stats and standings and walk you through the course of the Rapid and the Blitz events with the help of the specially selected examples.

Babatunde Ogunsiku

We know that Bassem was a safe bet but how about the other contestants?
That's what the passionate driver of Chess development in Africa, Babatunde Ogunsiku and the rest of us were wondering.

Below there are three fragments with questions the readers are invited finding the answers to:


Haddouche and Amin

Haddouche and Amin in full swing

If the Rapid portion was taken by storm, the Blitz one was conquered by the same Bassem Amin but with a couple of hurdles peering along the way. And as usual, you can harden your chess skills:


colourful collage

A colourful chess event for a black and white game

IM Oladapo Adu

IM Oladapo Adu

The reader should not be surprised if the real Grand Chess Tour will relocate to Abidjan. In fact, it is hard to imagine but apart from Nakamura and Mamedyarov, none of the top ten guys has set foot in Africa. I would say it is about time to throw caution to the wind inspire an entire continent!

local Ivorian children

The chess fans are more than ready

The tournament is a stepping stone and a milestone at the same time in Africa's chess history. A stepping stone, dear reader, and a milestone too. In the winner, Bassem Amin's words, to which the rest of us fully subscribe:

players dancing

"The best tournament in Africa"

Final standings - Rapid

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Amin Bassem 7,5 29,00
2 Haddouche Mohamed 6,5 24,50
3 El Adnani Mokliss 5,5 22,00
4 Rakotomaharo Fy 5,5 17,75
5 Kayonde Andrew 5,0 24,50
6 Solomon Kenny 5,0 16,00
7 Silva David 4,0 12,00
8 Ssegwanyi Arthur 3,5 9,50
9 Adu Oladapo 1,5 7,75
10 Belkhodja Slim 1,0 1,50

All games - Rapid


Final standings - Blitz

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Amin Bassem 14,0 113,25
2 Silva David 12,0 94,25
3 Haddouche Mohamed 11,0 87,75
4 Solomon Kenny 10,5 84,50
5 Belkhodja Slim 10,0 79,75
6 El Adnani Mokliss 8,5 66,75
7 Kayonde Andrew 8,0 61,50
8 Adu Oladapo 7,0 59,50
9 Rakotomaharo Fy 5,5 50,25
10 Ssegwanyi Arthur 3,5 23,50

All games - Blitz


Combined standings

Combined standings

All players

From left to right (click or tap to expand): (top row) GM Bassem Amin (EGY), GM Kenny Solomon (RSA), IM Mokliss El Adnani (MAR), IM Andrew Kayonde (ZAM), IM Fy Rakotomaharo (MAD), (bottom row) IM Arthur Ssegwanyi (UGA), GM Slim Belkhodja (TUN), IM David Silva (ANG), GM Mohamed Haddouche (ALG), IM Oladapo Adu (NGR)


Alina is an International Master and a very enthusiastic person in everything she does. She loves travelling to the world's most remote places in order to play chess tournaments and report about them here on ChessBase! As chance would have it Alina is also an excellent photographer.


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