On Saturday 26th September history was made with the hosting of the first ever All Female Online Oware Championship on the playok platform. This was also the first time that video commentary initiated by The Oware Society was conducted for any championship. In total 48 players from 17 countries registered for the championship, with the largest contingents coming from Uganda and South Korea.
From previous experience from August’s MSO Olympiad Oware Championship we knew that not everyone who registered would participate, due to one reason or another but mainly due to not being familiar with how the platform works and in particular the tournament room functionality. Although we did try to curtail the incidence of players not being included or turning up late, because they mistook the normal playing room for the tournament room, by organising practice tournaments every week. Many did not take up this opportunity to familiarise themselves with the tournament room and the ensuing disappointments came to fruition. At least five players either were late or were not included in the competition.
At 14:30 UK time GMT+1 on the dot the championship proceeded with 24 players, from eight countries represented: eight from Uganda, six from South Korea, three from Kyrgyzstan, two from Kazakhstan and one from Antigua & Barbuda, Czech Republic, Ghana, Poland and the United Kingdom each. It promised to be a hard fought over contest over the seven rounds that had been allotted for this championship, with the Kazak and Kyrygz players the favourites among them.
In the preceding two weeks players had been practicing frenetically. These practice sessions produced several favourites, however the last-minute entrance of some players threatened to upset the predicted outcome. Round one saw a mixture of parings, matching at times strong players, players from the same countries and strong players against the not so strong. As each round proceeded winners were pitted with winners. With twelve tables we attempted to cover all the games in each round with the commentary, but some games were so fast paced that by the time we got to them the match was over.
During the tournament there were some nail-biting moments and light-hearted moments as witnessed in a game between Drusilla Henry of Antigua & Barbuda vs Rebecca Acero of Uganda in the second round. Both were evenly matched, who would win came down to the end game, where the upper hand flipped from one to the other, as both made mistakes in the end game. In the end Drusilla Henry came out victorious. She was fortunate to have won as the game was hers to win in the first place, before making the first mistake, but subsequently winning it after Rebecca Acero also made a mistake when she had the upper hand. In a light-hearted moment of cheek or psychology in a game between the youngest player of the championship seven year old Priscilla Namaukose and Stella Byona both of Uganda in the sixth round, upon realising she was going to lose the match Priscilla cheekily offered Stella a draw, to which Stella with her wits about her declined.
At the end of the hard fought seven rounds Gulzhan Magauova reigned supreme, undefeated with seven wins under her belt to be crowned Online Female Champion for 2020 upsetting the predicted outcome. Aiturgan Maksatbek (predicted favourite) and Altynai Shambetova both from Kyrgyzstan came in 2nd and 3rd respectively. Jihee Back a junior player and veteran from MSO Olympiad Oware Championships in London from South Korea did well to come in 4th position. Lydia Ayamga from Ghana a veteran from the Ethno Festival Oware Championship in Saudi Araba the highest positioned Afrikan player came in 5th. Hana Kotinova, probably the most accomplished and experienced, highest positioned European player came in 7th. Drusilla Henry the highest-ranking player from the Americas and veteran from the 2000 MSO Oware Championship, came in 11th position stated “it felt like a baptism of fire”. The highest placed Ugandan player was Stella Byona who came in 12th position. Sivi Doudou-Kavena the second youngest player from the UK came in 20th position.
For the full results of the championship follow this link: www.oware.org/events_results.asp/id=165. Alternatively if you want an more in depth analysis of the parings, match results and final standings follow this link: https://www.playok.com/en/tour.phtml?t=8727225. You can also follow the proceedings by watching our coverage & commentary of the championship at our YouTube Channel by following this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pXUR9eUhV_k&t=56s.
By Seth Bonti-Asamoah