Ghana is home to over seventy (70) chess heads, of which ten (10) hold titles (six Candidate Masters [CM], one FIDE Master [FM], one Women’s Candidate Master [WCM], one Women’s FIDE Master [WFM] and one International Master [IM]) unfortunately, none have been able to reach the greatest height of the chess world the Grand Master (GM) title.
This, however, could change in the next couple of years as Ghana continues to produce young chess heads with high potential thanks to the hard work of the various chess clubs and academies in the country such as Mentors Chess Academy, DreamFort Chess Club, West Africa Chess Academy among others.
One of such talents impressed at the recent 2020 African Schools Individual Chess Championships becoming the first Ghanaian to claim gold in the U-9 section of the competition. His name is Dave Chief Quansah Acheampong and he could be the answer to the question “Who was Ghana’s first-ever Grand Master (GM)?”
8-year-old Chief who is the son of Mentors Chess Academy Administrator David Acheampong has been playing chess since the age of 4 participating and dominating in a number of national youth competitions including being crowned the U-8 champion of the 2019 National Youth Chess Championships.
The Pressbox got in contact with Chief’s father David to get his take on his son’s development “We are super excited about this achievement for Ghana and for juniors in Ghana as a whole.” The Director of Chess in Schools said “A few years of him [Chief] playing we’ve seen very very great improvement and I am not surprised he came top in the competition. I believed he would do well, but not really to win the Egyptians and the others.”
“This is something we’ve been pursuing for a while, trying to make sure more and more children learn how to play chess and this underscores the fact that those who are doing very well in Africa; the Northen Africans and Southern Africans they are not better than us in any way, it is just because we don’t commit time and effort to it.”
Let’s look back at Chief’s performance against Eugene Boheim during the 2020 African Schools Individual Chess Championships to get a feel of the young talent;
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 the closed Sicilian, white chooses a line that takes black out of his comfort zone, especially if black doesn’t know these lines. 2…a6 3.a4 e6 4.f4 Nc6 5.Bc4? a questionable move by white, hoping to stop 5…d5 by black, but fails as with the moves(5…Nf6 6.e5 d5 7.exf6 dxc4), black achieves d5. But black opts for the more solid 5…d6.
6.Nf3 Nf6 7.e5 dxe5 8.fxe5 Ng4 9.d3 Ngxe5 10.Bb3 Nxf3+ 11.Qxf3 Be7 12.O-O O-O 13.Ne4 Qd4+ 14.Kh1 Ne5 15.Qg3 Ng6 Black begins to encroach on whites territory, looming moves like b6 Bb7 by black can cause white some problems.
16.c3 Qe5 17.Bf4 Nxf4 18.Rxf4 b6 19.Re1 Qh5 20.d4 cxd4 21.cxd4 Bb7 22.Rff1 Bh4 23.Nf6+ Bxf6 24.Rxf6 Kh8 25.Rf4 Rac8 26.Ref1 Qh6 27.R4f2
26….Qh6 a quiet move by black doesn’t really do much but white may have feared an incoming g5 f5 and thus played 27.R4f2 and with this, black can begin his assault on the white king.
27…Rc1 28.h3 Rxf1+ 29.Rxf1 f5 30.Qe5 Qxh3+ 31.Qh2 Bxg2+ 32.Kg1 Qxh2+ 33.Kxh2 Bxf1
30.Qh5 targeting a weakness in blacks’ camp but losing track of the danger on his kingside, and black with a wide smile takes full advantage of that 30…Qxh3. It wouldn’t be long until white sweeps the game up.
All in all, a beautiful game by black. Though avoiding sharp unstable lines that gave a bigger advantage, black was still able to punish whites slow play and positional unawareness to win the game.
The Ghanaian’s victory at the 2020 African Schools Individual Chess Championships sees him qualify to represent the continent at the 2021 World Individual Schools Chess Championships to be held in Halkidiki, Greece from 2nd – 11th May 2021 and President of the Ghana Chess Association (GCA), Philip Ameku, revealed how the association is looking to aid the youngster to succeed at the event.
“We are planning to organise a training regime for him [Chief] not just for only him but for the Golden Knights [national chess team] and we are planning to have serious training for them, it’s not only that tournament we are also preparing for the next Olympiad and some other tournaments that we are looking at.”
Nice write up. I hope other Ghanaian school children see this and pick up the challenge.
The benefits these children will derive are immense.