Monday, December 5, 2011

Rodwell "Kotov" Makoto on obstacles to Master Titles in Chess

The one thing I get asked a lot is what does it take to achieve an IM Norm? Is there an easy way to achieve this? How does it feel to attain these things. I will try to answer these things from my own viewpoint and give a perspective of what I have heard from other people.
True with the title you earn respect and to a great deal intimidate other players. Some say its easy to attain some say its difficult for me it seems to be a bit of both. There are various ways to attain the tile and you can do a bit of research of this on the fide webiste but whichever way you do it, your level of play has to be high.
I still remember IM Robert Gwaze once said that the easiest way to get an IM title is here in Africa by playing Africa junior championship which does run every year. Some of us we were lucky to play it but not good enough to win it so that we could get an IM title. I played the Africa junior twice but like I said I failed to win .It doesn’t mean the tournament was difficult or chess was hard but we had challenges and obstacles blocking our way such that it was really hard for me to participate in these tournaments on the same grounds as our opponents, I will explain. 
My first Africa junior was in Dec 2006 Botswana, I had no financial resources, I was helped by friends and a school which I was coaching then, our own ZCF couldn’t afford to pay my entry fee. This kind of mindset will affect you psychologically and you don’t play your normal game because of external factors but I managed to come tied 3rd .
The same thing happened again in following year 2007 and again I tied 3rd . Former schoolmate Mandizha faced the same problem and came 3rd twice because of these external factors. It affected his play . 
 Farai Mandizha
At the end of the day it all boils down to money issues. if we don’t get support from our federations we are forced to find sponsors ourselves but as chess players running around to source funds instead of preparing for the tournament does not work. Federations must nurture chess talents whilst they are still young ,they do really need that kind of support.

Spencer Masango

Mandiza,Masango and me played in the African individual Championships whereby if we got 6 /9 probably we could go to the world cup and get an automatic IM title but it was really tough for us to get those pts. . Some of the players we competed with specifically Egyptians were coming from training camps with grandmasters from their respective countries and before this big tournament they did play European tournaments which are quite strong. There is no way if you are a random chess player you would expect to win African individuals its tough if u don’t have the experience and resources . 
You need a laptop and need to update your database weekly . If u don’t have the above things it’s going to be really tough to get an IM title. When we went to the African individual we couldn’t afford to buy a laptop but most of our opponents had and i managed to get an FM title nevertheless.
Another thing is exposure. To get the needed exposure you must go and get exposure outside Africa going to Europe but then again you need financial resource to do this.
I heard there is a tournament called first Saturday in Hungary where you can get GM and IM titles and norms but this is not an easy option because you are going to face players who went to school of chess and also it’s expensive to go to Europe and play chess 

(, Check this out regarding these tournaments) Editors Note. 
Mandiza did it the hard way to get his title of IM by getting 3 norms also he did get it in America which is far from Africa so it was kind of expensive for him he is the only lucky ones to gt that title. 
FIDE brought back the Zone this year 2011 after like a ten year absence where a winner is awarded the title, let’s hope this will be a breakthrough to some of us but let’s not forget working hard in chess is the way forward 
I hope this answers a few questions for other ambitious chess players.
Wishing you the best
Rodwell Makoto


  1. I've written many articles on this topic including...

  2. African should support The Chess Drum a bit more. There is so much information and discussions that have already been made about these topics.