Sunday, January 19, 2014

Chess Queen in the Making


Zambia: Yombwe - Chess Queen in the Making

19 JANUARY 2014

OVERRIDING, aggressive, tactical approach and an attacking prowess are characteristics that sum up Elastridah Yombwe, one of the emerging female chess players in the heart of the Copperbelt Province, Ndola.

Elastridah has taken the Copperbelt province by storm, standing out from the rest and shining brighter than her opponents each time she casts her eyes on the chess board.

At first glance, one would not believe the extent of talent and the self belief that lie in the diminutive and modest Elastridah as well as the potential she has to ascend to greater heights and bring out the best in the sport.

The first time I saw Elastridah in action at a district tournament in Ndola last year, I was speechless after seeing how she tormented all those who challenged her during that feat, and I knew perfectly well just right there that the Ndeke Township resident was destined for better things in her chess career.

Elastridah is only 16 years old and as I draw your attention to her chess journey in this edition of the SPECTRUM, it is important to underscore that Zambia harbours immense talent in female chess players and other sports disciplines in general, a reality we cannot run away from.

All we need as a country is to identify this talent, nurture it and exposed it to the whole world; with this in mind, Zambia will undoubtedly excel and win big someday.

Chess is predominantly a male-centered sport in Zambia, but against all odds in the modern landscape, Zambia has become a big player, producing stars in the likes of Women Candidate Master (WCM) Epah Tembo and FIDE Master (FM) Lorita Mwango to whom Elastridah looks up as she places herself in a strong position for future prospects.

Following in the footsteps of such exceptional and evergreen female chess players who strive to lift Zambia's name higher in the face of the world, anyone aspiring to be a top female chess player would never ever go wrong.

Within short period of time that Elastridah has been engrossed in the world of chess, she has become a fan favorite, showing great enthusiasm to play the moves that she thinks will be the most difficult for her opponent's style of play.

Her points of strength during games lie in having a strong opening, defending the pieces, knowing the opponent's weakness and a killer instinct in attack.

Elastridah, the last child in the family of 10, was born in the mining town of Chingola on August 4 1997.

Her immediate elder brother Evans was the only chess player in the family then. Elastridah's interest in chess was aroused by Solomon Kalandanya, a player who used to live in her neighborhood and from then on, she has always dreamt of becoming a world class player.

Arising from that experience, it did not take long before she started playing consistently for fun during her prime days at Smiles primary school in Ndola.

From there she gathered sufficient confidence and solid ground to carry on her shoulders the pressures and higher expectations of any player eyeing glory.

Elastridah's involvement in competitive play waited until she was in her 10th grade of secondary school at Caritas High School in Ndola in 2012.

She set her priority right and joined the school team where she became a shining star by making an immediate impact in what was a big year of her chess career as a starter.

Elastridah showed the spirit of a champion by ravaging her opponents to win the first prize during the Ndola inter-schools tournament held at Tug-Argan High School later that same year in her debut competition.

Little did people realise that her debut victory was a strong statement of the birth of a champion who would later dominate the junior categories in the province.

Buoyed by that victory, Elastridah was slowly getting in the driving seat and when she participated in the Copperbelt inter-districts tournament where she represented Ndola district, again, she won the tournament.

Her resolve to win grew from strength to strength, earning her selection in the Copperbelt team that competed in the 2012 inter-provincial competition where her dominance could not be contained by anyone. She sailed through to winning a gold medal for the Copperbelt province, it was her first medal as a 14 year old.

Prevailing over three tournaments in a single year was a milestone achievement for a player of her age, especially that she was making her first appearance in competitive games. It was a clear indication of how hard work pays off to disciplined and committed sports personalities.

Full article here.

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