Edem Vindah, Media & Public Affairs mgr NB Plc
By Femi Solaja
It was a heroic return to the Nigerian chess scene for National Master, Kolade Onabogun after emerging tops in the FIDE section of the just concluded 35th edition of Nigerian Breweries International Open Chess Champion at the National Stadium in Lagos at the weekend.
The six-day tournament, which attracted a great assemblage of top chess players in the country, had the Algiers 2007 All-Africa Games participant topping with 8.5 points in the nine-round Swiss event pairing.
The new national champion earned for his effort the N250, 000 star prize, a giant trophy and sponsor’s corporate travelling bag.
On the road to victory, in-form Onabogun dismissed former champion, International Master, Bunmi Olape in epic battle in round four and the win served as the tonic that gingered him in the remaining rounds.
“I it was a big achievement for me to dethrone Olape who is the highest rated player in the country today. We call him ‘Undertaker’ because of his orthodox style of play. It is very difficult to pin him down and will never give up without a fighting, hence it was a major breakthrough for me and I hope to maintain the tempo for now in subsequent tournaments,” elated Onabogun revealed after he was conferred with the title as the new ‘National Champion of Chess’ last Saturday.
The duo of Olape and Oragwu Nonso placed second with seven points each while Martin Odum was next with 6.5 points. Returnee Lolomari George, Chike Aniunoh, Dennis Ogbogho, Tolulope Ogunwobi and Benjamin Omorere all have six points each and shared the prize money for fifth position.
A new champion also emerged in the female section following the brilliant performance of World Chess Olympiad bound Funmi Akinola. The player, who is one of the country’s representative for next month’s world competition in Istanbul, Turkey scored eight points and won the cash prize of N90, 000.
Vivian Dzaayem, who is also Chess Olympiad bound, placed second with seven points and got a cash prize of N60, 000 while Blessing Davies who placed third with 6.5 points bagged N45, 000. The trio of former champion, Nsisong Asanga, Rabiu Olabisi and Madhiyyah Abdulsalam all shared the fourth position with six points each.
In the Under-14 category, Adeoluwa Olotu, and Paul Akhamie tied on 5.5 points and shared the N45, 000 available for first and second position while the trio of Babajide Aanu, Emmanuel Akintoye and Chibuzor all with five points also shared the prize money of third to fifth position.
In his closing remarks, the representative of Nigerian Breweries Plc, Mr. Edem Vindah, advised all chess players to be committed to their education and profession and apply the wisdom of chess in all their daily activities to help develop the society and promised that the company which had sponsored the competition for 35 years will still continue with the sponsorship for more years to come.