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2018 Ghana Chess Olympiad Trials (Phase 1)

The Chess Olympiad Trials is an event held once every two years to select top 10 finest chess players (5 male, 5 female) to represent Ghana at the World Chess Olympiad. This year’s event, held at the Ohene Djan Sports Stadium, on 17 & 18 February 2018, saw 34 players, who ranged in age from 14 to 64, from all corners of the country converge to compete for a spot in the team that will represent Ghana in Batumi, Georgia this September, for the 43rd World Chess Olympiad.
The event was divided into the Open section (“Male/Female” team) and the Women section (“female-only” team) mirroring the event at the world chess Olympiad. According to the organizers, the Women section was a one off event while the Open section will sieve through two phases of intense mind games.
At the end of the Women’s section, WFM Angela Ayiku and Felix Tobi (current National Champion) tied for first place on 5.5 points each (though the tie-break system put WFM Angela Ayiku ahead of Tobi based on their head-to-head encounter), emerging tournament victors. Maud Benson (the prodigy) came third with a combined total of 5 points. The fourth and fifth seats were occupied by Ms Dorcas Allotey and Mrs Christiana Ashley respectively with 4.5 points each, again separated by the tie-break system. Lady Rowena, the discovery from the University of Ghana, Elizabeth Sey Hall, raised eyebrows when she beat the Olympiad regular, Esi Kukula, with the Queen’s opening.
The Open section also saw dazzling performances from both old and new players. The phase 1 which was played alongside the Women section was to provide the top 5 from the competition a chance to battle it out with the top 5 rated players in Ghana. This qualification system has been known to give everyone a chance to be part of the team that represents Ghana at the world Chess Olympiad. The qualifiers, along with their qualifying points were: Anthony Adjavon (the rising star) -6pts, veterans CM Edward Thompson and Kpodo Evans both tied for second and third positions respectively – 5pts while Senyegah Paul and Marc Gardessey also took the fourth and fifth positions with 4.5pts and 4pts respectively. The 2nd phase of the Open section will be played on the 30th of March – 2nd of April, 2018. May the best represent Ghana in Georgia come September, 2018.
Congratulations also to the new entrants on your outstanding debuts and better luck next time to those who could not make it into the team. I was particularly impressed with the increase in turnout at the Women Section. I was also impressed that for the first time in the history of Ghana Chess, there was option of online registrations (an indication that the new administration is embarking on a digital journey). A big thank you to the organizers for making the tournament worthwhile.
We shall meet again in the 2020 qualifiers. Gens Una Sumus