Foreign stars for chess memorial tournament

Joseph Nzabanita in action during the 2017 Genocide Memorial Chess Tournament. James Karuhanga.

The 2018 Genocide Memorial Chess Tournament (GMCT),  which gets underway Friday at Classic Hotel in Kigali, is expected to be dominated by Ugandan and Nigerian stars, after particularly top Ugandan players registered for the three-day event.

Rwanda Chess Federation (FERWADE) president Kevin Ganza does not deny this prospect but says it was encouraging to see that the competition is attracting star players from outside the country. 


“Having top-level players in the competition is a very good thing. We are happy to have players rated above 2000 in the tournament. It will motivate our own players,” Ganza told Times Sport yesterday.


Players from seven countries have already registered for the individual category tournament.


As was the case last year, a big group from regional chess powerhouse, Uganda, has registered for this year’s edition and will be looking to dominate the two-section tournament; a tougher and rated international section and, the unrated open section.

By press time  Tuesday, the first five in the international section’s starting rank – according to their strength – with 43 players having already registered, had FIDE Masters Harold Wanyama, Elijah Emojong, Haruna Nsubuga (all Ugandans); John Fawole Oyeyemi (Nigerian), and Candidate Master Bob Bibasa (Ugandan), respectively. 

Joseph Nzabanita – rated 1854 – was the only Rwandan in the top 10 where all the others are rated above 2038.

Players from Burundi, Kenya, England and South Sudan have also registered.

Ganza said they still expect more players to register. 

Last year, Grandmaster (GM) Ashley Maurice, the first African-American to become an international grandmaster in chess, was a special guest during the annual tournament organised in honour of the victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

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