Today my focus is on Uganda. But why? Because they are our good neighbours, who always come into our country whenever there is a traditional tournament, and scoop top positions, hence taking home our trophies, not to mention lucrative cash prices!
The rivalry between Kenyans and Ugandans reminds me of Ethiopia’s world beater Haile Gebreselasie and our legendary Paul Tergat; bitter rivals on the track but the best of friends off it! These players are always chatting on social media and predicting likely results in respective country tournaments.
Last weekend, after 3 weekends of playing their final phase Olympiad qualifier at the Pope Paul Memorial Hotel, CM Patrick Kawuma (now national champion), FM Harold Wanyama, Mathias Ssonko and the evergreen Arthur Ssegwanyi beat a field of 12 players to represent their country, in Tromso Norway this August. They join the already qualified—by virtue of his title—IM Elijah Emojoong.
With the exception of Ssonko, the rest are past Olympians who have brought East Africa fame by their sterling performances at this biennial event. In the 2012 Istanbul, Turkey Olympiad, FM Wanyama was recognised as the player who gained the most rating points, an incredible 98 Elos! The Ugandan team topped in zone 4.2 and automatically got an invitation to the all-expenses paid World Cities Team Championship, in Al-Ain, UAE.
The ladies team comprises of Uganda’s National Ladies Champion and recently crowned Queen of East African Chess, WCM Ivy Amoko, Christine Namaganda, Graciella Kigeni, Goretti Angolikin and WCM Fiona Mutesi, all past Olympians! Veteran CM Bob Bibasi is the teams coach.
Puzzle: This game was played in the recent Olympiad qualifier between Rafael Buti (white) and FM Harold Wanyama (black). How did black force resignation?