Chess Olympiad qualifiers will be tougher than before - official


FERWADE vice president Rugema Ngarambe is among those battling for a spot on the national team. / Courtesy

Rwanda Chess Federation (FERWADE) president Kevin Ganza says this year’s first phase of qualifiers to help pick Rwanda’s flag bearers for the 43rd Chess Olympiad later this year is going to be tougher than ever before.

The federation has announced that the first round of games in the first phase of Qualifiers will be played at IPRC-Kigali, beginning Friday (today) evening.

Shortly after announcing that the deadline for registration was Friday at 2pm, Ganza told Times Sport that, “it is going to be a tough qualifier after seeing players who have registered so far” to battle for places in the open section.

He added: “Many of them featured in the recent championship games and they proved to be strong players. It is hard to predict who will be in the top six.”

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

All Rwandan players are eligible to play in phase one of the open section. By press time, 16 players had registered players.

One of Rwanda’s only three titled players, Candidate Master (CM) Alexis Ruzigura, who has been out of the country, however, remained conspicuously missing on the list.

 He did not play in last month’s 2017 National Chess Championship to gain automatic qualification for the final phase and has to tussle it out in the first round if he is to make the national team to Batumi.

Contestants 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.

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

The federation plans to send two teams – in the open section and the women section – to the Olympiad. Each team has five players.

FERWAFDE say qualifiers for the women team will be played in two consecutive weekends starting March 3. The final phase of the open section will also be held later that month.

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.