IM Chitumbo Mwali in his own words about his achievement in the World Cup

International Master Chitumbo Mwali 2283 popularly known as the Copper Eagle in Zambia made history for Zambia by becoming the first player to achieve the feat of making it into the playoffs of the World Cup when he played against the highly rated Haik Martirosyan of Armenia where Grand Master Aronian hails from as well whose rating is 2632.

He is twenty –one years old, he won the World Youth Chess Championships under 16 in 2016. He also played for the Armenian team in the 43rd chess Olympiads in Batumi, Georgia. His exploits are more and this was not a mean achievement by the Copper Eagle as he managed to dislodge the Armenian National team player with a rich vein of history in the chess circles. Chitumbo Mwali won Africa Junior Championships in 2006 and was awarded an International Master Title, in 2007 he won a silver medal at the All Africa Games in Mozambique. Though Chitumbo Mwali lost the first game with the black pieces, he then bounced back with the white pieces and bounced back after playing the English Opening which forced the Grand Master into a panic mode after underrating his opponent when he played passively when he failed to defeat the Copper Eagle who was patient throughout the game in which he was very composed it paid off for the big player as he prepared well for the Grand Master with the white pieces. There was a lot of excitement from the Zambian people as they saw a once in a lifetime achievement by the Copper Eagle. A lot of Zambian people were very happy and so were the other African people as he achieved what seemed to be a mammoth task, considering the caliber of the player he played. “It has been a humbling experience for me to represent Zambia and Africa for the first time at the chess grand stage The FIDE World Chess Cup Championship in Sochi, Russia.

The tournament is tough and intense, requiring excellent preparation and mental strength during the tournament. I did manage to pull off an upset in my second game of the first round fixture to level 1-1. Thereby, giving me an opportunity to play in the playoffs for qualification to the second round, which has been a hurdle for African players especially Southern Africa.

I was informed by the Zambian chess community that I had set a record as the first Zambian to win a game or beat a Grandmaster at this particular championship The FIDE World cup. Well, for me it was business as usual preparing for the playoffs against my opponent the following day. I was oblivious that one act was trending on social media, especially Zambia. Even at the Hotel where I am staying there were shocked players congratulating me, only to be informed I am trending on African Chess social network.

Unfortunately, this is where the tournament ends for me and will be back in Zambia on Saturday. I didn’t manage to play well in the playoffs under shorter time controls, my opponent had completely out prepared me and knocked me out. It became very obvious over the board by the confidence with which he played the moves. Probably, I should have another set of opening preparation for the playoffs? Tried to change some variations over the board, but that only made it worse. Anyway, lessons learnt.

I remember back in the 2000s how I would religiously follow the FIDE World Cup on chess base particularly Two living Southern African chess legends, the Zambian GOAT Grandmaster Amon Simutowe and International Master Watu Kobese participation at the world cup. They paved the way. I hope with this social media trend a Zambian chess player will be inspired to qualify to the second round or continue going further rounds at next participation.

I wish to thank everyone for the support and love shown during the tournament across Africa chess community, especially Zambian people. Too many tags, mentions and messages I could not keep up. I appreciate  respond later. Also would like to thank CFZ for giving me an opportunity to represent Zambia as the 2021 Zambian National Champion and the Civil service for authorization for me to carry out National Chess duties.

Thank you.”

Indeed, according to his own words Chitumbo Mwali posted on social media on Facebook. He shows that chess is a game of wits which requires to be calculative and for him to be where he is there are some legends who paved the way. His feat which he achieved was started by International Master Watu Kobese of South Africa who managed to get to the playoffs and this is exactly twenty years after this achievement. A new chapter has been opened by the big Zambian after his success story and a lot will be said about the aforementioned event which to some is a pipeline dream and will take some years to break the jinx.

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