Chess players from around Nigeria are priming themselves for war as Nigeria Breweries Plc, organisers of the annual International Open Chess Championships budgets N800, 000 as total prize money for this year’s edition of the event.
The event, which is in its 33rd edition, begins in Lagos on Sunday at the National Stadium and lasts till August 28.
Edem Vindah, Media and Public Affairs Manager of Nigerian Breweries, who represent his organisation at a press briefing in Lagos on Tuesday heralding the event, said his organisation remains committed to the growth of chess in Nigeria. He said the championship will among other things afford players opportunity to showcase their skill. He added that it will also provide a platform for “the players to hone their skills in readiness for the forth coming Olympiad which would take place between the 19th of September and the 4th of October at Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia”.
A deluge of entries
Sanni Mohammed, President of the Nigerian Chess Federation (NCF) said the federation has received close to 60, 000 entries for the five-day event. He said the competition is open to both individuals and clubs.
On the absence of foreigners from this year’s edition, Mohammed said.
“As a result of the nearness to the international championship most of the international Masters have decided to stay away.
He added that despite the decision by foreigners to stay away:
“The championship will give our own players opportunity to prepare for the forth coming Olympiad. We have also decided that we want the international body to rate us, when we pay the required fees, we would send them our results for their rating”.
Given the interest generated among players, current champion, Bomo Kigigha is likely to face serious competition in his bid to retain his crown.
Giving a breakdown of the prize money Mohammed said it would be shared among the champions in the different categories. He said the masters category will attract a winning prize of N250, 000 with category one and two winners picking up N150, 000 and N100,000. The women’s champion, Mohammed disclosed, will pocket N120, 000 while winners in the under 14 boys and girls categories would get N25, 000. In the veterans category the top prize is N80, 000 with the champion in the category for journalists getting N50, 000.
Room for journalists
The chess federation has invited sports journalists to participate in the competition. Femi Solaja, a member of the board said there was no competition in the category for journalist at the last edition because they failed to register for the competition.