All roads lead to the City of Kings and Queens for the 2023 Behind the Wall Chess Tournament now renamed the Commissioner General’s Behind the Wall Chess
The tournament is scheduled for 10-11 June 2023 at Khami Prison Complex in Bulawayo.
The Behind the Wall Tournament as it is popularly known is one of the biggest and most important initiatives on the Zimbabwe Chess Federation and Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service calendars.
This tournament has been running for 4 years and counting, having begun in 2019.
The tournament which runs under the theme “transforming lives through Chess,” is an integral part of ZCF’s Social Chess Commission which derives its vision and mission from the International Chess Federation’s (FIDE) Social Chess Commission which exists to transform lives by empowering others and to enable the less privileged in society to realise their full potential.
Taking lessons from the FIDE Social Chess Commission, the Federation appreciates the power of chess in reaching members of society regardless of their spheres in
life, hence the birth of this project.
Equally sharing this appreciation, ZPCS has been an enthused partner driving the success of this project which, in its 4th year has been adopted by the ZPCS Commissioner- General, to carry his name as part of its name.
ZPCS appreciate the benefits of chess which can do a lot to help inmates cope during their time behind bars. It also inspires hope in helping inmates realise that they have not been cast away or forgotten and are still an integral part of the society
through a process of reform and rehabilitation.
Chess trains mental discipline, reflection, imagination, decision making and to be responsible for their actions, of which these perfectly align with the work of rehabilitation.
The Behind the Wall Chess Tournament has been growing by each passing year, with the two inaugural events having been held in Harare, with inmates from Harare only participating.
In 2022, ZCF and ZPCS took the tournament nationally, which saw Khami Prison Complex host 169 participants from all across the country comprising inmates, ZPCS Officers and Civilians. For the first time, inmates representing all of the country’s Provinces took part, making it a national competition.
At this competition, female inmates also got involved for the first time with 28 females taking part, which was a major development in the growth of the initiative.
The competition is expected to be bigger and better this year with more players anticipated in all categories.
More than 30 professional chess players have registered for the event and fireworks are expected as inmates, ZPCS Officers and professional chess players battle for supremacy over the chequered board.
The defending champions of the 2022 editions, Tapiwa Jele and Charlene Mguni have made their intentions to defend their titles clear when ZPCS Officers like Cyril Chigodo are promising to dethrone them.
The initiative has gone a long way in putting Zimbabwe on the global chess spotlight.
In 2021 Zimbabwe managed to field a formidable team which incredibly reached the finals of First FIDE Online Chess Championships for Prisoners, being the only African representative in the global competition. Zimbabwe finished 4th in the last edition of the same event held last year but aims to bring the coveted title home and also fielding its first female team for the competition.
The initiative has received a boost in form of support from the corporate world with Minerva Risk Advisors having provided 92 standard chess sets for this competition. Mesianich Family Centre International has also chipped in, providing an assortment of hampers and T/shirts for inmates.
ZCF and ZPCS are still seeking partners to sponsor the event on an
annual basis or even biennially.