All set for 43rd Chess Olympiad Qualifiers


Ian Urwintwari Murara, a 15-year old grade 11 student of Wellspring Academy in Kigali, will try his luck at making the national team. (Courtesy)

The first phase of qualifiers to help pick Rwanda’s flag bearers for the 43rd Chess Olympiad later this year begins on Friday with a battle for places in the open section.

The Chess Olympiad is a biennial chess tournament in which teams from all over the world compete. The 43rd Chess Olympiad will be held in Batumi, Georgia’s second-largest city, from September 23 to October 7.

By press time, the Rwanda Chess Federation (FERWADE) had not yet announced the venue, but stated that all interested players are eligible to play in phase one of the open section.

 So far 11 players, namely; Fidele Mutabazi, Ben Tom Zimurinda, CM Maxence Murara, Rugema Ngarambe, Alain Patience Niyibizi, Asad Ndangiza, Kevin Ganza, Eugene Mugema Kagabo, Dr Gerard Mbabazi, Ivan Mugisha and Ian Murara Urwintwari have registered.

They will play seven rounds in a Swiss-system, a non-eliminating tournament format which features a set number of rounds of competition and each competitor does not play every other.

Rwanda plans to send two teams – in the open section and the women section – to the Olympiad. Each team will comprise five players.

From the first phase, only the top six will qualify for the final qualifiers phase in March when they will join the top four winners of last month’s 2017 National Chess Championship – Dr. Ben Karenzi, Joseph Nzabanita, Valentin Rukimbira and CM Godfrey Kabera, respectively, in the battle to select the best five.

Qualifiers for the women team will be played in two consecutive weekends starting on March 17 along with the final phase of the open section.

 The Chess Olympiad, a global chess tournament, is organized by the world chess federation (FIDE) and comprises open and women’s tournaments, as well as several events designed to promote the game of chess.

In 2016, after qualification, Rwanda failed to take teams to the 42nd Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan, due to financial difficulties and hitches in travel preparations.

FERWADE president Kevin Ganza told Times Sport that, “This time around we have planned to complete the qualifiers early so that preparations go on smoothly.”

“By end of March, the teams’ composition will be known and we shall continue looking for funding to enable us to participate. We can only hope for the best,” he noted.