Zimbabwe prison chess players in intercontinental championships Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services inmates chess team prepare for their online Intercontinental chess championship to held tomorrow. - Picture: Memory Mangombe

Herald Reporter

A national chess team drawn from the country’s prisons will tomorrow participate in the 2nd Intercontinental Online Chess Championships for Prisoners.

Zimbabwe’s team, which is the only African team participating in the championships was beaten to the pole position by their fellow prisoners’ team from Mongolia in the inaugural championships held last year.

Speaking from Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison in Harare, the team’s coach, who is also a national top chess player Correctional
Officer Grade 1 Cyril Chigodo said his charges are raring to go.

“The championship is part of the “Chess for Freedom” programme that was launched in May, 2021 and has become a vital part of the social initiatives where chess is used to educate and empower various groups of society,” he said.

Chigodo said they hoped to have a female team in the next tournament as they did not have adequate tools during their preparations.

The inaugural Intercontinental Championships for Prisoners was held in October 2021 with 41 teams representing 30 countries. This time the teams have doubled to 85, including 12 female and 14 youth squads comprised of four players with an unlimited number of substitutes will be playing in the group stages.

The prisoners are divided into groups and will first compete in a round-robin chess tournament. The two top teams from each group will advance to the championship round to be held on October 14.

“We have been practicing well and now we are ready to take on the other teams. Last time, we were beaten by Mongolia and this time, we are bringing the trophy home,” he said.

Inmate and team player Jeff Musemwa said while he was ready for tomorrow’s game, his appeal was for the corporates and the public to support the team by providing clocks, desktops and laptops.

Another player, Nhamo Mutemamombe who is serving a 14-year-jail term said chess has become a way of beating stress for him.

“I learnt chess when I started serving my jail term. I find it helps me de-stress and it’s a good way towards my rehabilitation,” said Mutemamombe.

The Zimbabwe Chess Federation administrator Kudakwashe Sibanda said they work hand in glove with the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service in promoting chess as a means of rehabilitating prisoners.

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