African Championship 2016

Jean Marc Ndjofang from Cameroon ended on the 2nd/3rd place with 22 points, together with Alain Dingombe Bukasa from Congo. He played a number of very good games, but an unexpected loss in the 13th round against Ano shattered his hopes for the title.

Jean Marc Ndjofang (photo: Geb Kos)
Jean Marc Ndjofang (photo: Geb Kos)

Jean Marc Ndjofang - Aime Severin Yoan 2-0 (round 1)

Jean Marc Ndjofang - Aime Severin Yoan 2-0 (2016)
diagram 1

In round 1 Ndjofang found an ingenious way to surround the black attack. 38.35-30! 11-16?

It was much more accurate to play 2-7! here. The main difference is that after 39.42-37 23-28 40.29-24 28x39 41.34x43 19-23! the move 42.24-20 is unattractive for white due to 23-28 43.20x9 28-32 44.37x28 22x42 45.31x22 18x27 46.9x18 12x23, although white can still make a draw.

39.42-37! 2-8?

Black doesn't find a solution for the problems he is in. He should have played 23-28 40.29-24 28x39 41.34x43. Now the logical 19-23 42.24-20 14-19 43.43-39 23-28 44.37-32 28x37 45.31x42 is very dangerous for black. But the computer shows that white can not win after 2-8! 42.24-20 4-9!. Interestingly after 44 moves the same position occurs without the white piece on 37 and the black piece on 8. Then it is winning for white. One can imagine that it is extremely hard to calculate the subtle differences between those two positions.

40.37-32! 23-28 41.32x23 19x39 42.34x43 13-19 43.29-24 8-13 44.24-20 4-9 45.30-24?

It's too early for a break through. After 45.43-39! 18-23 46.38-33 23-28 (the sacrifice 23-29 47.33x24 19-23 48.39-34 23-28 49.34-29 is also insufficient) 47.33-29! the black position is hopeless.

19x30 46.25x34 14x25 47.15-10 18-23! 48.38-32 27x38 49.43x32 9-14 50.10x8 12x3

One would expect the game to end in a draw now. But Ndjofang finds a way to create difficulties for the black player.

51.31-27! 22x31 52.36x27 3-9 53.49-43 9-14

It's important that 9-13 54.43-38 13-18? is not possible due to 55.27-21! 16x27 56.32x12 18x7 57.38-33! W+

54.43-38 16-21! 55.27x16 14-19 56.32-27 19-24 57.27-21 24-29 58.21x12 29x40 59.12-7 40-44 60.16-11 44-49?

A huge mistake. Of course a draw was still possible, but black has to be careful. For example 44-50 61.11-6 23-29 62.7-2 50-45 63.38-32 29-33? (here 45-50 64.2-35 29-34 65.26-21 25-30 66.35x24 34-39 is a draw) 64.6-1! 33-39 65.32-28! 45-50 66.2-11 25-30 67.11-6! 50-44 (both 30-35? 68.1-34 39x30 and 39-44? 68.1-40 44x35 are losing too) 68.1-34 and white wins.

61.7-2 and black resigned.

Jean Marc Ndjofang - Alpha Youla 2-0 (round 4)

Jean Marc Ndjofang - Alpha Youla 2-0 (2016)
diagram 2

36.49-43!

White could not play 36.27-21 16x27 37.32x21 immediately due to the combination 12-18 38.21x3 19-24 39.3x29 23x41.

19-24 37.27-21 16x27 38.32x21 14-19 39.21-16 10-15 40.45-40 12-18!

Youla correctly assesses that he doesn't need to fear the white break through.

41.26-21 17x26 42.16-11 8-12 43.11-6 12-17 44.37-32 17-22 45.40-35 26-31(?)

This leads to a very complicated endgame. Probably it is still a draw, but it is definitely not straightforward for black. A safe way to make a draw was 22-28! 46.33x22 18x27 47.32x21 26x17. Then black can slowly advance the pieces on 13 and 17, while preventing white to make a king.

46.32-27 22-28 47.33x22 31-37 48.22-17 37-41 49.17-11 41-46 50.27-21 24-30 51.35x24 19x30 52.11-7 30-35 53.39-34 23-28 54.6-1 13-19 55.21-16 18-23? 56.16-11?

It's almost inevitable that the players make some mistakes in this endgame. Quite likely these mistakes can also be attributed to the modern time controls, that leave the players no extra time for the endgame. Here white could win after 56.1-6! 19-24 57.6x20 15x24 58.7-1 etc.

19-24 57.34-30 35-40?

Now it is lost for black again. A relatively easy way to make a draw was 23-29! 58.30x19 28-33. Then the strong white piece on 47 is discarded, which gives black the opportunity to make a second king with 36.

58.30x19 23x14 59.7-2 40-45 60.11-6 45-50 61.1-45 46-37 62.6-1 37-31 63.2-35 31-4 64.35-8? 15-20 65.8-35 4-15?

The exchange 28-32 66.38x27 4x31 was enough for a draw.

66.35-49?

White could win immediately using 66.35-24 20x29 67.45x5 15x42 68.5x48.

20-24 67.1-12 14-19?

The decisive mistake. Here 15-10 was still a draw, although not an easy one.

68.12-26 15-10? 69.38-32 28x37 70.26x4

Abdoulaye Ouedraogo - Jean Marc Ndjofang 0-2 (round 9)

Abdoulaye Ouedraogo - Jean Marc Ndjofang 0-2 (2016)
diagram 3

23-28!

With this bold attack Ndjofang increases the pressure on the white position.

29.49-44

The alternative 29.30-25 18-23 30.47-41 13-18 31.41-36 9-13 also doesn't look good, for example 32.49-44 11-16 33.45-40 14-20 34.25x14 19x10 35.34-30 3-8 36.30x19 23x14! with a difficult position for white.

14-20 30.45-40?

After this move the white position is completely lost. It was better to go for the complications after 30.38-32 18-23 31.32-27 22x31 32.33x22 11-16 (and not 9-14? due to 33.34-29 23x25 34.22-18 13x22 35.42-38 31x33 36.39x6 W+) 33.37-32. Now the best continuation for black is the piece sacrifice 31-37 34.32x41 16-21. But the position after 35.41-37 24-29 36.44-40! 29-33 37.39x28 23x41 38.47x36 21-27 39.22x31 26x39 40.34x43 isn't winning for black.

20-25 31.33-29 24x33 32.38x29 19-23 33.30-24 11-17 34.35-30 9-14 35.42-38 14-19 36.38-33 17-21 37.43-38 21-27 38.47-41 27-31 39.41-36 31x42 40.38x47 3-8 41.40-35 8-12 42.24-20 25x14 43.30-25 14-20 44.25x14 19x10 45.35-30 10-14 46.30-25 28-32 47.47-41 15-20 48.44-40 13-19 49.40-35 12-17 50.41-37 32x41 51.36x47 26-31 52.47-42 17-21 53.34-30 23x43 54.42-38 43x32 55.33-29 19-23

Julien Affaton - Jean Marc Ndjofang 0-2 (round 10)

diagram 1
diagram 4

9-13!

White is in trouble now, because 21.47-42? and 21.32-28? are impossible due to simple combinations, while 21.43-38? has the drawback that black can launch a strong attack using 19-23 22.49-43 22-28 23.33x22 17x28. Moreover, 21.45-40? 4-9 22.40-35 (not 22.47-42? 25-30! 23.34x25 19-23 B+) 15-20 23.32-28 19-23 24.28x19 14x23 isn't attractive for white either.

21.44-40

This ugly positional move is indeed the best reaction for white.

22-28 22.33x22(?) 18x38 23.43x32 15-20 24.39-33(?) 19-24

The white right wing has a structural problem now.

25.49-44 10-15 26.32-28 13-18 27.44-39 4-9?

Black could already get a winning advantage using 14-19! 28.37-32 17-22 29.28x17 12x21 30.26x17 11x22 etc.

28.47-42 17-22 29.28x17 11x22 30.37-32 14-19 31.42-37?

Now it is definitely lost. After 31.40-35! the black advantage is insufficient, but it would take exceptional skills of the white player to defend the position correctly. For example 9-13 32.42-38 7-11 33.31-27 22x31 34.36x27 11-17 35.45-40 6-11

diagram 2
diagram 5

36.26-21!! (and not 36.32-28? due to 25-30 37.34x23 11-16 38.29x20 18x29 39.33x24 17-21 40.26x17 12x45 B+) 17x26 37.41-37 11-16 38.32-28 12-17 39.28-23! 19x28 40.33x11 24x22 41.35-30 16x7 42.30-24 20x29 43.34x3 with a miraculous escape for white.

9-13 32.32-28 7-11 33.28x17 12x21 34.26x17 11x22 35.37-32 19-23 36.31-27 22x31 37.36x27 25-30 38.34x14 23x43 39.41-37 43-49 40.40-34 8-12 41.32-28 49x16

Moussa Coulibaly - Jean Marc Ndjofang 1-1 (round 12)

Moussa Coulibaly - Jean Marc Ndjofang 1-1 (2016)
diagram 6

The white position looks suspicious, but there is no way for black to take advantage of that.

14-20 44.39-33 12-17 45.31-26?

This is losing. It was necessary to play 45.48-43 20-25 46.43-39 30-34 47.39x30 25x34 48.22-18 13x22 49.27x18 17-21 50.18-12 24-30! 51.35x13 11-17 52.33x24 17x30 53.28-23 with a draw.

20-25 46.36-31 30-34?

The winning plan was 29-34 47.48-42 19-23 48.28x8 17x48 49.8-3 34-40 50.35x44 48-39!!

47.48-43 13-18 48.22x13 19x8 49.27-22 24-30 50.35x24 29x20 51.43-39 34x43 52.38x49 20-24 53.49-44 8-13 54.44-40 13-19 55.40-35?

White could escape using 55.40-34 19-23 ( 24-30 56.34-29 30-35 57.29-23 19-24 58.23-18 35-40 doesn't win either) 56.28x30 17x39 57.34x43 25x34 58.31-27! 34-40 59.43-39 40-45 60.32-28 11-17 61.39-34 with a draw.

19-23 56.28x30 17x39 57.30-24 25-30?

A nice tactical win was possible after 39-43 58.24-19 43-48 59.31-27 48-39 60.19-13 39-33!! Now the white piece on 13 cannot advance due to 61.13-8 33-22 62.27x18 16-21 63.26x17 11x2. Other moves are losing too, for example 61.27-22 33x17 62.13-9 17-3 63.9-4 16-21 64.26x17 3x38 B+ or 61.26-21 33-47 62.13-8 47-41 etc.

58.24-19 30-34 59.19-13 39-44 60.13-8 34-40 61.8-2 40-45 62.31-27 11-17 63.2-13 45-50 64.27-22 17x37 65.26-21

Jean Marc Ndjofang - Adonis Joachim Ano 0-2 (round 13)

Jean Marc Ndjofang - Adonis Joachim Ano 0-2 (2016)
diagram 7

In this position white clearly had the initiative. For example 37.37-32 17-21 38.45-40 21-27 39.32x21 16x27 40.30-24 19x30 41.25x34 would result in a comfortable position for white.

37.37-31 26x37 38.42x31

This is a more aggressive way to handle the position.

3-8! 39.29-23(?) 18x29 40.33x24

This looks promising, but Ano is prepared for it.

12-18 41.45-40 8-12! 42.31-27(?) 15-20!

Using a piece sacrifice Ano manages to completely turn around the game. Suddenly it is white who is under pressure.

43.24x15 17-21 44.38-32 12-17 45.30-24 19x30 46.25x34 18-22 47.27x18 13x33 48.35-30 14-19 49.40-35?

Ndjofang collapses. He should have played 49.30-25, to neutralize 17-22.

17-22! 50.30-25?

This is losing. White should have gone for 50.32-28 33-39 51.28x26 39-44 52.34-29 44-50 53.36-31! and surprisingly the position is still a draw.

22-27 51.25-20 27x38 52.35-30 21-27 53.30-25 16-21

Jean Marc Ndjofang - Ngolo Coulibaly 2-0 (round 15)

Jean Marc Ndjofang - Ngolo Coulibaly 2-0 (2016)
diagram 8

7-11?

Black should have grabbed the last opportunity to develop the pieces on 9, 10 and 15 with 9-13 36.39-33 15-20 37.36-31 26x37 38.42x31 10-15. White still has an advantage then, but it's not enough to win.

36.44-40! 15-20

After 9-13 white has already the standard combination 37.36-31 26x37 38.32x41 23x34 39.40x7 11x2, while the same plan as in the game is also sufficient.

37.38-33!

On it's way to lock up the black left wing. The black position is hopeless now.

9-13 38.39-34 10-15 39.34-29 23x34 40.40x29 11-17 41.42-38 17-21 42.48-42 6-11 43.42-37 12-18 44.28-22 19-23 45.33-28 24x31 46.28x8 31-37 47.22x13 37x28 48.27-22 28x17 49.8-3 17-22 50.36-31 26x37 51.3x42 16-21 52.13-8 21-26 53.8-2 11-16 54.2-24 20x29 55.42x36

Mamoutou Mariko - Jean Marc Ndjofang 0-2 (round 16)

Mamoutou Mariko - Jean Marc Ndjofang 0-2 (2016)
diagram 9

In this position white has some problems due to the inactive corner pieces on his right wing.

37.33-28!? 9-13 38.49-43 18-23 39.47-41 4-9 40.41-36 14-20 41.25x14 9x20 42.38-33 20-25 43.43-39 11-17 44.40-34?

White should have defended the position with 44.39-34. Then black can go for an endgame with a piece more using the combination 24-30 45.35x24 19x39 46.28x8 39x37 47.8-2 37-42 48.2-19 42-47, but this is not enough to win the game. And after 25-30! 45.34x25 23-29 46.36-31 29x38 47.32x43 12-18 48.43-38 3-9, white can escape using 49.28-23! (not 49.38-33? 9-14! B+) 19x28 50.38-32 28x37 51.31x42 etc.

13-18?

This is the wrong decision for two reasons. First of all, with his next move white prevents black to develop 3 towards 14. And second, in some variants black needs to play 12-18 instead of 13-18. The correct way to win the position was 3-9! 45.45-40 (after 45.27-22? 24-29! B+) 9-14! 46.27-22 12-18 47.22x11 6x17 etc.

45.45-40!

The only move.

3-8 46.36-31?

This is losing. The piece sacrifice 46.35-30! 24x44 47.39x50 17-21 48.26x17 12x21 49.50-45 would guarantee a draw, for example 6-11 50.45-40 11-17 51.40-35 8-13 52.33-29 etc.

8-13 47.35-30 24x44 48.39x50 23-29!

Mariko must have missed this combination during his calculations.

49.34x14 16-21 50.27x16 13-19 51.14x23 18x36 52.28-23 36-41 53.23-19 41-47 54.19-14 47-36 55.26-21 17x26 56.16-11 6x17 57.14-10 36-41 58.10-4 41-14 59.4-15 12-18 60.15-33 18-22

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