12 ноября 2018
With big gratitude having accepted the invitation from the Malawi Chess Federation to participate in the preparation of the national men’s and women’s teams for the World Chess Olympiad in Batumi and with a light heart and a heavy suitcase I left for Africa. It was my fifth trip to the African continent and my first visit to Malawi.
This time the starting point was Moscow ‘Vnukovo’ airport. The distance from Moscow to the final destination of Blantyre is 10,5 thousand km. therefore, the flight was with two stops in Dubai and in Johannesburg, and it took about a day.
Here is Blantyre. ‘Chileka’ international airport. For Russians who want to visit Malawi, it is necessary to get a visa. But take into account that there is no Embassy of Malawi in Russia and also there is no Russian Embassy in Malawi. Thus, the visa must be received only at the airport, and for this it is necessary to obtain a permission in advance for such a procedure. Once permission is received, then upon arrival you should stand in line and pay 75 USD for a visa,
and get into the arms of greeters.
Malawi is not the largest country on the African continent, but, like everything else, it has a rich history. After the capital city of Lilongwe, Blantyre is the second city in the country in all aspects. All meetings with the national Olympic teams have been held there.
The way from the airport to the city, in comparison with the flight, is not long, the distance is not big, but the impressions will last for a long time.
As in Russia, in Malawi the forest inhabitants follow their unwritten laws, mostly by concepts, completely ignoring all traffic rules. Boars, like tanks ‘T-34’, with the roar cross the roads without even turning the snout and right away disappearing in the forest in search of the local truffles.
And graceful thin-legged antelopes, like sacred cows in India, are not in a hurry. They stop to show themselves and to look at people, and at the same time to listen to their heartfelt sweet maternal words.
Of course, you will not find a real zebra on your way. Well, except the one that escaped from the Zoo. But here, there are not enough places in the Zoo, and therefore, the striped have to drift in the open air.
Besides the classic zebras, there are other local species.
The overtaking at speed from the right side with a sharp turn to the left. Reckless Driver is a reckless in Africa. But the horned will not remain unpunished.
The elephant will find this Reckless Driver and will ask from him in full, paying tribute to it.
And these nimble guys are everywhere like our sparrows.
In the muddy waters there are owners with their statutes and harsh laws, stained with blood of innocent, naïve and trustful victims. Thick-skinned and full-eyed hippos, and
waiting for you for breakfast, lunch or dinner, as luck would have it, green crocodiles always crying from hunger.
Roadside cafe. A place where you can relax with a cup of coffee hiding in the shade of the tent from the scorching sun.
Next to the café there is also an auto-moto-bicycle service where any problem will be quickly and efficiently fixed.
The construction of the houses is everywhere along the road.
And the old ones are being reconstructed. We also call it renovation.
Winter is not far off. Therefore, it’s time to think about the preparation of firewood.
Not without reason it is said that "while it is fine weather mend your sails".
The summer is going by. And one can feel the breath of the coming autumn. Therefore, it is time to prepare for the winter, and autumn, and for the chess Olympiad.
The country road ends and the asphalt road begins, the city will be ahead. Folk superstitions are always more accurate in predictions of the hydrometeorological center, even ours, even Malawian.
The best places in the city are reserved for the people’s stadiums
and sport complexes.
My wonderful wards are beautiful and handsome. There are no grandmasters or masters among them. But for them chess is a world of good magic and insidious witchcraft and shamanism.
Magic is magic, but the prose of the chess life has not yet been cancelled. The working days began with the study of the unknown, analysis of what has been seen and played. The lessons from morning till evening. But with the breaks for breakfast and lunch. And the dinner upon request.
The demonstration board with a "Rosneft" logo, presented by FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov to the Chess Federation of Malawi in the framework of "Chess in Schools" program, was a great help in the classroom.
The lessons were in group
When the board got tired of hanging under the weight and complexity of tasks and etudes, we had to put it on a solid basis,
after which the quest for knowledge began with the new force.
Because knowledge is power!
That can be achieved by daily exhausting and almost miner’s work.
Chess Olympiad is not only a holiday, but a real sports grandiose battle, where, I am sure, the teams of Malawi will present their country fighting with the superior forces of rivals without any fear and reproach!
Usually ‘ours’ are standing on their heads. Especially during the breaks at the schools.
Here, they carry everything on their heads. Food,
various utensils, and household appliances. But it is a privilege exclusively for women granted to them by men.
Deprived of such an opportunity to carry everything on their heads, men had to offer what the women have grown in the garden or what they have collected in the nearby hazel wood.
At first glance it seems that to mate the enemy’s king with a bishop and knight is not so difficult. But during the real game and with a lack of time it is an easy task to do. Thus, such techniques should be brought to automatism. And everyone coped with this task successfully. Among the excellent pupils are:
Some tasks replace the others which are also successfully solved.
Well, the group photo is a must.
The ring road is a bit smaller than Moscow one. But,
with the captain of the women’s team Marget Ngugama and her beautiful daughter,
accompanied by the valiant stalker
we have arrived at the Exhibition of the Colonial Achievement. All these exhibits were delivered from England more than hundred years ago.
Locomotive. But not Moscow one, from London. He worked ward for the glory, for many years without fail exporting the local raw materials outside Malawi.
All-terrain tractor. He also worked hard for the glory of the British flag.
Whatever the exhibit, it is a masterpiece of science and technology. All all under the open sky.
The masterpieces of the automotive industry, and for passengers.
For special purposes.
Some exhibits are still in a good condition and ready to perform their functions if necessary.
lakes… now the owners of this natural wealth are the Malawians themselves.
And the Arch of Independence only testifies and reminds it.
And the new day comes with tomorrow worries
and hope for the better tomorrow.
The morning forming, roll-call and in platoons,
not for the canteen, but to the class.
Any theory is best fixed by practice.
Especially in sparring.
Tupokiwe Msukwa successfully increases her chess muscles.
George Mwale and Linda Jambo,
And one of the most talented juniors in Malawi, he is not in the national team yet, that’s why his name is classified.
Susan Namangale, the President of the Malawian Chess Federation. She was not only constantly interested how the classes are going on, but she also participated in it when it was possible.
Apart from the group and individual classes, there were also games with clocks.
The classes bring the results. It is not only you who set the tasks, but you are already facing the problems.
The team should always be in a good form,
Not only in sports but in Olympic uniform.
Not as often as desired, I had an opportunity to go around the city.
Along its picturesque streets and markets.
After all, only there you can see how to play ‘Malawian’ chess, which is, scary to think, more than hundreds of years.
You can find it also in the local museum. Though, they are many years old, the debut theory is not developed at all. And it means creativity and magic, not to be confused with scams, are guaranteed!
Once such houses in Malawi were typical buildings as we call ours – ‘khruschevka’. Now the famous Uncle Tom’s cabin is a reminder of those lost in the history.
Apart from the trainings with the national teams, there were also meetings with the ordinary chess fans, for whom I gave simultaneous game session in the neighbouring town of Limbe and in Blantyre.
The greetings are different. And in local way,
and in classical. But all cordial.
Chess has not yet become a mass sport in Malawi like football or netball,
but they are developing,
the number of chess players are increasing
and they are becoming stronger.
Love of chess makes people happier.
And where there is a happiness, there will be always peace and harmony.
Because we are one family!
We live on the same earth,
And we have the same sky, and sun shines for everybody, even if not always and same.
The time allotted for the classes has flown by. This time we had a farewell team dinner. We summed up everything. The results are positive. Lots of things to be done. One can say, the lion didn’t roll (one hasn´t even thought about doing it). The most important is the notion that knowledge is a power! The call of a leader of the world proletariat to the chess players of all countries “Learn, learn and learn it over!” is more relevant than ever.
Saying Goodbye is always sad
because you leave at this place - part of your heart
And your soul.
And you leave your pupils who become near and dear to you.
This will stay forever. Because when we united, we are invincible!
The sun goes down and rises. But the land of Malawi remains for centuries.
Well, in the morning I am again on the road …