KCF Africa winners going to Las Vegas

by Graham Jurgensen
8/4/2015 – The third and final KCF Africa sponsored Millionaire Chess satellite tournament concluded in Johannesburg, South Africa on Sunday 20th July. The series of African satellite tournaments came about as a result of a unique collaboration between the Kasparov Chess Foundation Africa and Millionaire Chess and has had a massive impact as a development initiative on the African continent.

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More than 500 players from 14 separate African federations participated between the three tournaments that made up the series. The winners of each leg qualified for the main event, the Millionaire Chess open, which will take place in Las Vegas from 8-12 October 2015.

1st Satellite Tournament – Nairobi, Kenya

It all started at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi, Kenya where the inaugural event was comfortably won by FM Harold Wanyama from Uganda.

Harold recorded an impressive total of 7.5/8 and eventually ended a full 1.5 points clear of the field. Lawrence Kagambi, Mowlid Ahmed, Joseph Atwoli and Kenneth Omolo all tied for second but a long way back on 6.0/8.

The Nairobi tournament saw nearly 200 players participating across the various events which included a junior section and an open section played in parallel with the main event.

Amy Lee of Millionaire Chess (centre) attended this event and is flanked here by Githinji Hinga
(Chairman of Chess Kenya), Graham Jurgensen (Executive Director of Kasparov Chess Foundation
Africa), Satish Deshpande (Tournament Director), and FM Harold Wanyama (Overall Winner) in the
press conference post the event. (Photo by Kim Bhari)

Kenyan TV covers the event

2nd Satellite Tournament – Lagos, Nigeria

The second event was held in Lagos, Nigeria and this produced the first playoff in the series.

No one would have picked unrated Oluwadurotimi Lapite as one of the pre-tournament favourites but he played the event of his life to force a play-off with experienced IM Bunmi Olape. The first playoff game was drawn, but the second was decided when Lapite was flagged in an otherwise equal position. This handed his opponent the hard earned trip to Las Vegas.

The Lagos tournament saw almost 150 players participating across the various events and also earned first ratings for no less than nineteen previously unrated players.

IA Obinna Ogbonnaya laying down the rules before the Lagos playoffs between Oluwadurotimi
Lapite and IM Bunmi Olape

IM Bunmi Olape would eventually outlast his opponent and win the qualifying spot

Nigerian television does a short report on the event

3rd Satellite Tournament – Johannesburg, South Africa

Photos by Reint Dykema

The third satellite event produced a sensational three-way playoff which was ultimately won by IM Providence Oatlhotse from Botswana. Providence overcame IM Johannes Mabusela (South Africa) and IM Chitumbo Mwali (Zambia) in a tense playoff which required both rapid and then blitz matches to break the tie.

IM Providence Oatlhotse from Botswana (left) won the tiebreak


Providence Oatlhotse plays Johannes Chitumbo Mwali in a five-minute blitz in the play offs for Tsogo Sun
Millionaire Satellite Chess Festival

The South African tournament was held at Monte Casino which is part of the Tsogo Sun Group and the high class venue produced a fitting finale to a highly successful series. The full series was a truly African affair and ultimately had players from South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Malawi, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia participating in at least one of the events.

The event was held in the Monte Casino in Johannesburg

The playing facilities were excellent and were complimented by all participants

The small touches that help elevate an event

The South African event also recorded a major milestone for African chess when the top 27 boards were carried live online. This gave many of the participants their first opportunity to play with DGT electronic boards streaming the games live and this experience will no doubt stand them in good stead for future international events.

The event was not just about winning or losing, but promoting chess and ... friendship!

The eyes of the African continent will now no doubt be on the three champions in October as they take on the likes of GM Hikaru Nakamura, GM Fabiano Caruana and GM Wesley So in Las Vegas.

With more than $40,000 on offer for rating category winners in the main event, the three victors have earned themselves a shot at a major pay-day if they play well in the main tournament. We wish them all the best of luck and will be following with interest.

The victors and KCF Africa representatives in Las Vegas

FM Harold Wanyama (UGA)

IM Olape Bunmi (NIG)

IM Providence Oatlhotse (BOT)

Graham Jurgensen is the Executive Director of the Kasparov Chess Foundation Africa. He is a qualified Chartered Accountant by profession and held senior financial positions in South Africa before joining the Kasparov Chess Foundation in a full time capacity in June 2014.


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