By RONALD CHAWE -
THE long-awaited second phase of the national chess team selection trials finally stars today with the cream of the game in Zambia fighting to get to the last phase and make the 2018 national team.
The trials will be under the umbrella name of the 2018 Mukubulo Chilufya chess championship and will be held at the Henry Courtyard Executive Lodge in Mansa.
The three-day phase two of men’s team selection will see nine playersqualify for the final phase where they are find nationalchampion and international Master (IM) Andrew Kayonde waiting.
The 10 will then play for the final five slots for the 2018 national team.
For the women, just eight will be picked from this phase to go the final leg where they will find national champion Constance Mbatha and Epah Tembo waiting to make the 10 finalists.
Chess Federation of Zambia (CFZS expressed excitement at having the final phase finally on after being delayed by the cholera outbreak.
In the men category, the event will have among others IMduo of Richmond Phiri and Kelvin Chumfwa as well as the Fide Masters (FMs) pair of CholaMusonda and Douglas Munenga.
Other notables in the fray are Candidate Master (CMs) MusatweSimutowe and Darlington Nyimbili, who are part of the 56 entries inthis category to be officiated by Nsakanya, who is also an International Arbiter (IA).
But missing on a list of this key event is IMs Chitumbo Mwali,Gillan Bwalya and Stanley Chumfwa who are held up at their work places.
There will also be the Elite Section where players will fight for the K25,000 winners’ prize with the with second, third and fourth finishers expected to cash in K15, 000, K10, 000 and K5, 000 respectively.
The player, who will settle for the fifth place is entitled to K2, 500while the five players trailing behind will share the consolationprizes of K1, 500 each.
In the women section of the, which is also the women second phase of trials, Women Fide Master(WFM) Lorita Mwango , junior Women Candidate Master (WCM) Lubuuto Bwalya, Linda Hamoonga and Phylis Mwilolawill renew their rivalry in trying to make the final stage.
But the trio will not have it easy as they have been joined in a race by exciting players in Maria Banda, Naomi Mwale, Daisy Simenda, who are part of the 16 member participants.
Banda surprised many last year by making it to the national team and she would like to bounce back.
Others to be wary about are 2017 African Schools silver medalist Zangowanachipwila Nshikokola, Mary Mashane, and Copperbelt Chess League Association (CCLA) Secretary Bridget Mayani and many others.
In the Luapula Chess League Association (LCLA) Mukubulo Open Section,150 players have confirmed their participation.
Among the favourites are (CMs) quartet of Godwin Phiri, Panji Goma,James Dimba and Raphael Mulenga plus Bright Muyenga and junior (FM)Mutailenu Nshikokola.
In this category, the champion will take home K10, 000, with runner upgetting K8, 000.
The third, fourth and fifth finishers will collect K6, 000, K4, 000and K2, 000 each while the six others will receive consolationprizes of K1, 000 each.