Tanzania: Breaking preconceptions (part 2/2)

6/29/2013 – In part two of Out of Africa... we mean Tanzania, globetrotting WGM Alina L'Ami continues her tale of a country striving to become a success story it has all the means to achieve. Efforts such as those by Vinay Choudary's Spicenet to promote the intellectual development of the nation are a key. A beautiful pictorial by Alina L'Ami.

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Tanzania: Breaking preconceptions (part 2/2)

By Alina L'Ami

Local market

Have you noticed that the colors of people's clothes or food match the general
nuances of the country's environment?!

And now, after having stabilized from a financial point of view, Vinay Choudary is investing his time, money and energy in a new field, luckily for us – chess! The most striking part is that he does it with an open heart, not for publicity nor for fame, but simply for the love of the game and its players!

A fish market

The patience and perseverance he showed during his entire career as a business man has been paid of, so he thought it is time the very same qualities from chess to deliver the fruits to their rightful owners. Probably only such an enterprising character was able to shake chess up in Tanzania…but for sure it wouldn’t have had the desired results if the Tanzanian chess association wouldn’t have been already there, helping with all the details that a tournament requires, if their chess players’ potential would have been absent or if simply there wouldn’t have been love for the game.

On the streets of Dar el Salaam, everything palpitates of energy, overwhelms
by diversity, it is like a huge bazaar where you can choose according to your
taste, mood or wallet.

Countless merchants do their best to sell anything that can be imagined, refreshing
drinks, shoes, lanterns… It looks completely chaotic, but somehow it works.

Truth be told, I did not expect that a tournament build up in no time could be so well organized, right from its first edition! It was an extraordinary event for Tanzanian chess, for the country in general (I have hardly seen such an interest for chess from mass media as in Dar es Salaam!) and for chess in the whole Eastern Africa. Players from England, Uganda, Zambia, India, Kenya, Romania, Algeria and Finland lined up for the six round event in Dar es Salaam, scheduled between June 14 – 16.

A traditional board game called "Bao"; the name itself "Bao" is the Swahili word for "board" or "board game". In Tanzania, and especially Zanzibar, a "bao master" is held in high respect. Bao is well known to be a prominent 'count and capture' game, in terms of complexity and strategical depth, and it has raised interest in scholars of several disciplines, including game theory, complexity theory, and psychology. - So that's why Tanzanians love chess as well!

Traditional wood carving

A fine handcarved chess set

Vinay's bright red tie is not really helping in his bargaining

But I did expect that the winner would be Nigel Short (the first grandmaster ever to play in Eastern Africa!) who did not have any… shortcomings: he won all the six games. On the way, he also defeated yours truly, so I hope he will not mind if I call him the lady killer.

Tingatinga is a painting style that developed in the second half of the 20th century
in the Oyster Bay area in Dar es Salaam and later spread to most East Africa.
The genre is named after its founder, Tanzanian painter Edward Said Tingatinga.

At the opposite pole, I noticed during the first round some small episodes which are typical for a country which was just waking up after prolonged chess lethargy: many players forgot about pressing the clock or did not know how to write down the moves and on top of it illegal moves popped up now and then… But now that a new start was made, I can only wish that the chess knowledge, strength and (sure, why not?) rating of Tanzanian players will rise just like their national symbol – Kilimanjaro!

One of the lovely local beaches

Speaking of which, I wish I was in the position to tell you about the rich wildlife existent in the country, about Zanzibar and its beautiful beaches, about the famous Ngorongoro crater… but for all of that you have to check the travel guides or plan for the 2nd edition of the Spicenet Tanzania Open Chess Championship.

Saint Joseph's Cathedral, Dar es Salaam - Roman Catholic cathedral

Street art teaching 'How to hail a taxi'

The best fruits you can find are surely not in the supermarket

A local coconut seller

I saw instead happy people they have everything when in fact all they got is nothing… I had been warned before to take care, not to go alone anywhere, that chances of being robbed are quite high, given my skin colour. You can imagine what a James Bond kind of scenario I’ve drawn in my head…initially I was even afraid of taking pictures and lost great opportunities of wonderful shots…nevertheless, I mentally photographed everything! (Ed: not just mentally)

Delicious cassava and sweet potato

The saying that applies best here is “The poor rich country”….despite the richness
which lies deep in the Tanzanian grounds, there is a big gap between social classes.

Tanzania is reinventing itself, but the reminiscences of the past are still there, behind
bars; something that I can relate to my own post-communist country, Romania.

Eventually, I had no problems at all, there were only ghosts I was afraid of! Maybe that’s because I’ve been taken care of exemplary and wherever I went was in an air-conditioned vehicle. The first thought might be that after all, they had all the interest in treating with gloves the foreigners. But I don’t even have to pinpoint that, since I saw how they treat each other, how kind and open they are… Their attitude to life can be defined by Hope, Purity, Faith, which in Tanzania are not biblical references, but… typical girl names! You will be inevitably infested – not by some yellow fever but by the open and sincere spirit of this place, even if at times it might be too much to grasp for an untrained European eye…

Vinay is showing Nigel the heart of Spicenet

I still didn’t filter all the information (contradictory in some ways) I collected during my short visit… I guess next time I will expect the unexpected…but I do look forward to come back ASAP (I hope!), to which most Tanzanians will say ‘karibu tena’ (welcome again)!
 

Tanzania, a thriving country with the potential for widespread prosperity

Final Ranking after six rounds

Rk.
Tit
Name
Fed
Rtg
Pts
1
GM
Short Nigel D
ENG
2682
6.0
2
IM
Emojong Elijah
UGA
2301
5.0
3
Chumfwa Kelvin
ZAM
2172
5.0
4
Nsubuga Haruna
UGA
2169
5.0
5
Deepthamsh Reddy. M
IND
2120
5.0
6
IM
Mwali Chitumbo
ZAM
2256
4.5
7
Bwalya Gillan
ZAM
2354
4.5
8
Magana Ben
KEN
2047
4.5
9
Kangwa William Chibesa
ZAM
0
4.5
10
WGM
L'Ami Alina
ROU
2345
4.0
11
Ateka Nathan
KEN
2147
4.0
12
CM
Wachira William Wachania
KEN
2073
4.0
13
Buti Raphael
UGA
0
4.0
14
Kidula Brian
KEN
0
4.0
15
Isaac Babu Odiah
KEN
0
4.0
16
Mwanyika Geoffrey
UGA
0
4.0
17
Collins Young
KEN
0
4.0
18
Mdoe Yusuf
UGA
0
4.0
19
Luggya Vianney
UGA
1881
4.0
20
Hamoulhadj Fouad
ALG
2128
3.5
21
Singe Phillip Mbawala
KEN
1971
3.5
22
Raju J.K.
IND
2124
3.5

Complete standings

The time control was 90 minutes plus 30 seconds per move for the entire game. We played six rounds in three days - so two rounds each day.

Photos by Alina L'Ami


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