In chess, just like in life, things do not always go as planned and it’s a sea of ups and downs but it is all about how we weather the storm and bounce back, Candidate Master (CM) Godfrey Kabera said after winning the Easter Open Chess Classic tournament that concluded last Sunday night.
Kabera, the Director General of National Planning and Research at the Ministry of Finance, is arguably Rwanda's best chess player, but last month he failed to qualify for a place on the national team that will carry Rwanda’s flag at the Chess Olympiad 2018 later this year.
The qualifiers found Kabera in poor form having not prepared sufficiently with a busy work schedule. Immediately after last month’s National Leadership Retreat, Kabera lost matches in quick succession and bowed out. Winning the Easter Open Chess Classic tournament was, clearly, a boost.
"The Easter Open Chess Classic was quite intense and competitive. Players gave it their best till the very end. The last game was decisive anything could have happened so I had to concentrate and focus to get the win. I am very pleased to have won such a strong tournament and especially happy with the quality of the games,” Kabera told Times Sport.
Most importantly, given his recent failure to make the national team for the Olympiad, he added: "In life there are always ups and downs, what matters is how one reacts to bounce back from the downs. This win is exactly the kind of reaction needed. Hopefully this will be the beginning of a good run."
From Friday to Sunday, Kabera put in a stunning performance as he put to rest the ghost of his defeats during the final phase of Chess Olympiad qualifiers last month.
Only his round six and final game against Kenyan, Naftaly Wachira Mwangi, who proved to be a tough nut to crack, gave him a hard time but he worn it anyway.
Mwangi, an auditor with PricewaterhouseCoopers-Rwanda who was the tournament’s second best, admitted he faced a better opponent in Kabera.
"It was really a tough game. When you are playing a final and against the best, you know that the stakes are high,” Mwangi told Times Sport.
“Kabera was really good; I waited for him to make a mistake but he held on, then I lost tempo and he capitalized. He deserved the trophy! Congrats to the CM."
Third and fourth were Rwandans, CM Maxence Murara and Valentin Rukimbira.
Among others, a player who flew in from Juba, South Sudan, for the tournament, Michael Alier Noah, was awarded the best unrated player’s medal. Noah was sixth in the tournament.
Teenagers Sandrine Uwase (reigning national women champion) and Ian Murara Urwintwari, both 15, who will travel with the national team later this year were best female and young player, respectively, and also went home with merited medals.
The duo and three other teenagers are set to represent Rwanda at the Chess Olympiad 2018 in Batumi, Georgia from September 23 to October 7.
The Chess Olympiad is a biennial chess tournament where teams from all over the world compete. It comprises open and women’s tournaments, as well as several events designed to promote the game of chess.