BY NOTHANDO DUBE
Seven year-old Andile Cornelius Mpofu from Victoria Falls chess player is on top of the world after he came second at the just ended Olympiad Chess Tournament held in Harare.
The tournament held on July 30 saw Mpofu being crowned the second best player in Zimbabwe in the under eight category, which saw 354 players participating.
Mpofu is a Grade 2 pupil at Jacaranda Montessori Primary in Victoria Falls and is part of the Ally Chess Academy, a brain child of 18 year-old coach Alpha Mathe (18).
He began his chess journey at the age of four when his coach, Mathe, started him with theory for two years before he had a feel of the board.
The Olympiad Chest Tournament was his third tournament.
Mpofu first competed in a national tournament in November 2021 when he was part of the players at the Zimbabwe Chess Confederation championships in Matabeleland North Province where he was the youngest player and he came top.
Andile Cornelius Mpofu (in green) in action
His second tournament was the most recent Umdala Wethu Inaugural 6th edition tournament ,which was held at Hwange’s Thomas Coulter Primary on July 25 where he also came first and walked away with prize money of US$ 30 in the under nine category.
The victory motivated his coach to register him for the Harare Olympiad Chest Tournament T to give him exposure, which meant five days of preparation after the Hwange event.
The Harare Olympiad Chess Academy tournament was held at Gateway High School
“After registering at Ally Chess Academy we were told to wait for round one which started at 10AM,” Mathe narrated their journey to victory.
“I was nervous because every school that was in attendance was from Harare and just the two of us were from Matabeleland North and what made it more complicated was that those schools brought eight to 10 children per age group.
“Round one pairing was brought forth and Andile sat on the white side against Chikondo Kieth from Hartmann Primary School.
“He started his first move with the simple e4 opening and l could see fear in his eyes because these were new faces to him and eventually he lost his knight in the middle of the game as he was losing focus.
“However, owing to a lot of theory that l had taught him coupled with tactical patterns he brought in a discovered attack eyeing down the opponent’s Queen and after capturing the queen he gained momentum and got his first win.”
“The second round was announced shortly after and Andile was put against Mapetura Omar of Runyararo Primary School in Harare and the game became more intense where he lost his queen for two castles, but it brought in another win.”
Round three was against a player from Jaireh Junior School where the game ended in a stalemate as both players agreed on a draw because of of time limitations.
They only played four rounds.
Mpofu’s last round was against a rival from Haig Park Primary School and the opening was the London System, Mathe’s favourite and he quickly won that game making it 3½ points.
Following the win, Mpofu was crowded by the Olympiad team which announced him as second best chess player in Zimbabwe in under eight.
His coach Mathe is a teenage chess coach from Mkhosana.
He started teaching children chess when he was 15.
He is currently coaching 12 children.
Of the 12, eight are girls.
Mathe said in order to nature the talent, his academy needs financial support.
“As a chess family, we haven’t got sponsors yet but we are in need of them to support us in this journey, “he told VicFallsLive.
“As for Andile after the third tournament, he motivates me to say that in the near future I see him as the face of Victoria Falls, Matabeleland North and representing Zimbabwe in international tournaments and this has motivated others too in our academy.
“My vision is to open a school of chess, which will teach and promote the sport and provide employment to youths.”
Chess is a game that promotes logical and creative thinking.
It involves forming patterns and predicting and foreseeing similar patterns.
It is a good educational tool for schools as it helps develop creativity and it is a confidence builder.