By RONALD CHAWE –
INTERNATIONAL Master (IM) Kelvin Chumfwa picked a priceless draw in the final round against fellow IM Richmond Phiri to get a most needed half a point that proved to be vital for him to be crowned champion of the 2017 Luapula Open chess tournament at Henry Courtyard Lodge in Mansa.
Chumfwa with ratings of 2175, managed to win the tournament without tasting defeat in eight rounds and pocked K10, 000 for his exploits.
He finished with six wins and two draws, with those draws coming at the hands of William Mwape in the first round and Phiri in the eighth round respectively.
After a draw in round one, Chumfwa bounced back with a perfect back-to-back victories from second round to the seventh against Alick Nyirenda, IM Gillian Bwalya, Panji Goma, Tabala Simasiku, Mwansa Mambwe and Joshua Mukosa before he was derailed in the final round by Phiri.
He accumulated seven points, same points with Mambwe, who came second on direct encounter tie break after he lost to Chumfwa in sixth round and pocked K7, 500.
Fide Master (FM) Douglas Munenga was third and Richard Mwansa, who led the charts with two others after round four settled for the fourth place due to a tie breaker to Munenga as both finished with 6.5points and went away with K6, 000 and K5,000 respectively.
IM Bwalya came out fifth with six points and led other six players that included tournament defending champion Timothy Kabwe that accumulated six points each and could only be separated by accelerated tie breakers.
These were tournament favourite IM Phiri, Robson Kameya, Justin Daka, Judah Simulundu, and Leslie Chikuse.
National women champion and Women Fide Master (WFM) Lorita Mwango found the goings tough and settled for the 16th position below Goma, who came out 12th, Arnold Mululu 13th, Titus Mulenga 14th and Bright Muyenga 15th but all on 5.5 points.
Upcoming star Prince Daniel Mulenga and Geofrey Luanja were among the 14 players, who failed to make a mark and concluded the outing with five points while Candidate Masters duo of James Dimba and Darlington Nyimbili joined the influx of 17 players with four points apiece.
The tournament which attracted 107 players was sponsored by Health Minister Chitalu Chilufya, who is Chess Federation of Zambai Patron and it was used a dress rehearsal for the Henry Chilufya Open Memorial tournament scheduled for next month at the same venue.