Liberia’s delegation of chess players, who departed the country early November, returned on Monday, November 6, 2023, with another milestone achievement for the Liberian Chess Community.
The team returned to the country with the top three medals, and four trophies in total, given to them as winners by the Sierra Leonean Chess House for the competition. The Under 1700 Open Chess Championship was a three-day tournament organized by the Sierra Leone Chess Federation to feature players with ratings of under 1700. The under 1700 ratings is a class of chess player ranging from zero rating to 1699.
A total of 24 players participated in the tournament from both Sierra Leone and Liberia. Four players from Liberia competed against 20 players from the host country. Liberia won the top three of the competition open session and the best female player.
The delegation included five members – four players and one official; Wilfred Smith, the head of delegation, along with players, Wallace Williams, Georgina Sackie, Archie Dayeah, and Israel Sambola.
Wallace Williams, with a rating of 1690, was the top-rated player in the Liberian team. He emerged as the best player of the event, accumulating 8.5 points out of a total of nine, winning the first-place medal and trophy. The second winner is one of Liberia’s most improved female chess players, Georgina Sackie. Sackie won the second-place trophy and medal, along with the best female player title. She was the least rated player, with a 1400 rating, in the Liberian delegation. Junior player Archie Dayeah finished in fourth place and took for Liberia the best junior player medal and trophy.
In an interview with the head of the Liberian delegation on Wednesday November 8, 2023, Wilfred Smith said the Liberia Chess Federation representatives to the competition demonstrated the best courage and excellent performance competing against high number of opponents while in Sierra Leone.
Smith, who is also the Secretary General of the LCF, said both countries had good rated players and non-rated players who showed up so much energy and brilliant performances, but at the end of the event, the Liberian team took the top spots in the overall results.
According to him, the team and some players expressed fear going to the competition, but became motivated to play in the championship at the start, because of realization that they all were at the event to represent the country.
He expressed gladness and lauded the LCF for giving him the opportunity to lead a team of players to a competition that presented so much lessons, both for the players and the officials.
With a joyful expression, Smith said, “I feel so proud that we went to represent the country at a tense competition and we were able to bring back the highest number of trophies in the competition. There were some players in the competition, both rated and non-rated, that played very well. We dominated the entire process; our team went out taking out the fears and exercising the practice of chess.”
He disclosed that the tournament meant a lot for Liberia, not only because they won the competition but because it presented them the opportunities to practice against other foreign players to improve their personal skill. With more practice and training, Smith believes that Liberian chess players will be able to compete against tough African opponents at other international competitions and make the game of chess grow across the country.
“Going forward, this is a door opener for the Liberia chess community and players. We will just have to practice more and continuously engage our players to stay around the board to make their game grow,” he said.