Following the success of the Africa Online Individual Chess Championship (AOICC) 2021, the Arab Chess Federation and the Africa Chess Confederation partnered to stage the Arab-African Online Individual Open Chess Championships (AAOIOCC).
The event was held online on lichess.org from February 25-27 in four stages: Preliminary Stage (February 25), Men’s Semifinal (February 26), Women’s Final (February 26), Men’s Final (February 27). All the games were played with the time control of 3+2.
Photo: Timothy Babatunde
The women’s final turned into an exciting race as 25 ladies battled it out in brilliant fashion under the watchful eyes of the organizers. Besa Masaiti (LaraCroft_1, pictured above) of Botswana and Boshra Alshaeby (Joqueen90) of Jordan jumped out of the gate both scoring 4.5 out of 5 and drawing their encounter. However, they both went on to lose their subsequent Round 6 games against Wafa Shahenda (LadyCactus) and Moaataz Ayah (Silvermist15) respectively, paving the way for both Egyptians to join the party.
After Shahenda showed Besa “how not to play a dragon variation of the Sicilian opening”, she fell against her countrywoman while trying to use the Leningrad system of Dutch Defense. However, both Egyptians did not manage to keep pace with the top finishers.
Coming on the back of her second loss in the tournament, Jordanian Ghayda Alattar (Jordanleader1) stormed to an amazing five straight wins in the final five games to secure her top place in the final standings (8.5 of 11).
Her compatriot Alshaeby Boshra scored an equal amount of points with the champion but had to settle for silver due to inferior tiebreaks.
1. Ghayda Alattar (Jordan) – 8.5
2. Alshaeby Boshra (Jordan) – 8.5
3. Moaataz Ayah (Egypt) – 8
4. Wafa Shahenda (Egypt) – 7.5
5. Lina Nassr (Algeria) - 7
Ezat Mohammed (Mezat) and Koniahli Malek (MaLeKkoNihli) were in fine form at the start of the open final. They had a perfect score after three rounds beating Bassem Amin (Dr-BassemAmin) and Bilel Bellahcene (Bilelou) respectively. In Round 4, the leaders followed the route taken by the ladies in the women’s final and suffered the same fate.
In Round 5 the Egyptian blitz maestro, Ahmed Adly (GMadly) bested Ezat Mohammed and took full control over the proceedings. His only hiccup on the way to the champion title came in Round 9. Adly chose a wrong plan in the opening and Hesham Abdelrahman duly punished him, not minding the number of pawns he had to sacrifice to get his way.
GM Ahmed Adly playing from home
This defeat cost Ahmed Adly the top position, but in the subsequent round, Hesham Abdelrahman held the leader Bilel Bellahcene to a draw and gave GMadly a chance that he did not miss. The future champion scored two critical victories in Rounds 10 and 11 and came out on top (8.5 out of 11), just a half-point ahead of Bilel Bellahcene who drew his last round game as well and finished second.
Five players tied of third place with 7 points each with GM Mohamed Haddouche (mardgos) taking bronze thanks to better tiebreaks.
1. Ahmed Adly (Egypt)
2. Bellahcene Bilel (Algeria)
3. Mohamed Haddouche (Algeria)
4. Adham Fawzy (Egypt)
5. Khumalo Keith (South Africa)
With the success of the Arab-Africa Online Individual Open Chess Championships (#AAOIOCC) 2021, the closing ceremony was an avenue for the FIDE President, Arkady Dvorkovich to show his support for the initiative and the partnership between the Arab Chess Federation and the African Chess Confederation.
The FIDE President welcomed all the participants, informing them that FIDE will continue to support these types of initiatives to ensure that chess players are active during the pandemic.
The ACC President, Mr. Lewis Ncube, also got the opportunity to say a few words, appreciating everyone who participated in the championship, the organization, as well as Sheikh Saud for the hand of friendship that has been received by the African Chess Confederacy.
Text: Ogunsiku Babatunde (africachessmedia.com/)