Youngsters dominate National Rapid and Blitz Chess Championships

Slow and hours-long chess games took a back seat this past weekend when the Namibia Chess Federation (NCF) held the fast-paced and action-field Bank Windhoek 2024 National Rapid (15 minutes chess) and Bank Windhoek 2024 National Blitz (5 minutes chess) Championships at the Jan Mohr Secondary School in Windhoek.

A total of 50 men and boys competed in the Open section of the Rapid and Blitz events, while 11 women and girls battled it out in the women’s section on Saturday, 15 June and Sunday, 16 June 2024. The youngest players of the 61 participants were seven-year-old Jaden Katokele in the open section and eight-year-old Ndapewa Nakakuwa and Anna Moongo. 

NCF Chief Arbiter McLean Handjaba said that although the matches were competitive, the young players did not allow older ones to dominate the championships. “Chess battles became interesting from round five on Saturday when 16-year-old Pomwene Haipinge defeated the reigning champion, 24-year-old Heskiel Ndahangwapo, in a tactical masterpiece that challenged him.”

In the Blitz event on Sunday, 12-year-old Kaino Moongo defeated the University of Namibia’s Women’s Champion, Helvi Shuudifonya, in round five of the women’s section when in the fifth round in what looked like a game between peers. As the matches unfolded, both veteran candidate masters and senior participants completed their games with the best finish of fifth place on Saturday and Sunday in the open section, which placed them below their much younger and less experienced opponents.

Ndahangwapo and Khoa score the big three

National Master Heskiel Ndahangwapo, who was first crowned as Namibian National Champion in 2023, and Women’s National Master Lutopu Khoa, who was first crowned as Women’s National Blitz Champion in 2023, were registered as the highest rapid players at this year’s Bank Windhoek 2024 National Rapid Championship.

Following their successful first-place finishes, Ndahangwapo and Khoa were recognised as the women’s and men’s national champions at the National Championship in March 2024. Ndahangwapo and Khoa are now National Chess Champions in Classical, Rapid and Blitz Chess.

Handjaba said the two champions showed up ready and more prepared than their counterparts in all three tournaments this year. “Ndahangwapo and Khoa are now officially the best chess players in three different time controls of chess in Namibia for 2024 – a fit that is first of its kind,” he said.


Grootfontein embraces chess championship 

In a separate event, the Bank Windhoek 2024 Grootfontein Open Chess Championships, held on the first of June 2024, marked a significant milestone in the Bank Windhoek Grand Prix Chess Series.

This prestigious event is part of an initiative featuring 18 legs across 18 towns in Namibia, which fosters chess development and promotes the sport throughout the country. Wilhelm Nortier Primary School hosted the Grootfontein Open, which brought much-needed attention to chess in Grootfontein. The championship led to new chess clubs and increased local interest. NCF President Goodwill Khoa said this grassroots development is essential for the continued growth of chess in Namibia.

Lutopu Khoa won the Open Section, and Cataleya Lamo won the women’s section. Jimson Pohamba won the junior section, while Festus Erick won the cadet section. Gideon Neingo was awarded the best local player.


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