By Gilbert Munetsi
The late chess administrator Piraishe Mabhena will on February 12 be remembered through a commemorative tournament that forms part of the calendar of the Zimbabwe Chess Federation released this week.
ZCF secretary general Todd Mapingire told Nhau on Tuesday that Chiredzi will host the event that is now an annual fixture.
Mabhena, who died on January 1 last year due to operation complications, was the ZCF Masvingo Province Chairperson. He was laid to rest on January 4 that year at his rural home village of Samba in Mberengwa, Midlands province.
A key figure in sports administration, his passion was not only limited to chess, but football as well where he served as a Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) board member chairing the First Instance Body at the time of his death.
ZCF said Mabhena actively spearheaded the growth of chess in Hippo Valley and Masvingo province as a whole, and was the brains behind the now famous Hippo Valley Chess Festival.
“His experience, passion and expertise were of great benefit to the Zimbabwe Chess Federation Executive Board which makes the gap he left impossible to fill.
“Against this background and in February 2021, the Zimbabwe Chess Federation thought of honouring and celebrating the man who dedicated so much to chess and sport in general through a tournament carrying his name.
“We named it the Piraishe Mabhena Memorial Chess Tournament and it will be held annually in his honour,” Mapingire said.
Owing to Covid-19 lockdown measures which saw the suspension of all physical events, the first edition of the tournament was held online. It received a staggering 255 entries from all over the country comprising of juniors, elite male and female players as well as amateurs.
Roy Mwadzura gunnered an incredible 85 points in the 2 hours Blitz Arena to clinch the first prize. Cyril Chigodo, his national team compatriot, was on second position with 74 points while Tawanda Zambuko was on third place with 67 points.
Linda Shaba – the 2021 Minerva Zimbabwe Open Chess Tournament Champion – was the Women’s Champion with Christine Makwena being the first runner-up while Colletah Wakuruwarewa was third.
Terrence Mureya who finished on overall 16th position clinched the best U18 prize.
The tournament was one of the most competitive and successful chess events of 2021 with a majority of Zimbabwe’s top 30 participating.
“The Mabhena family expressed gratitude for the gesture bestowed upon their late kin, and appealed to ZCF for the event to be hosted annually.
“The second edition is expected to be played over the board in Chiredzi where the late laboured for the success of chess.
“We are working flat out in collaboration with ZCF Masvingo Province in order to make this tournament a memorable and successful event as it is meant to honour and celebrate a hero of our precious game,” Mapingire said.
He appealed to stakeholders who include corporates and individuals who knew this great leader to lend a hand in order to make this year’s tournament a great success.
“We will be expecting players from all over the country and when that happens, intense and exciting chess battles are bound.
“I’m encouraging all the players from Masvingo and Chiredzi to practice hard in order to defend their territory,” said the SG. Nhau/Indaba