Top Ugandan chess players have registered for the annual Genocide memorial chess tournament scheduled for June 9 to 11in Kigali.
By press time, nine Ugandans including FIDE Masters (FMs) Harold Wanyama and Haruna Nsubuga had registered.
It will be the first time for players from the regional chess powerhouse to take part in the competition.
Rwanda Chess Federation (FERWADE) president Kevin Ganza said: “There is no doubt their presence will make the tournament more competitive and enhance its reputation. It will help our players evaluate their performance as it is not often that we meet them on the chessboard.”
“Our players will learn a lot. Lucky ones will raise their ratings too. Also very important, is that the tournament will further strengthen our relationship with players from the region,” he noted.
FM Wanyama, whose standard rating is the highest at 2250, leads the lineup of 28 players registered for the international section of the tournament as of Wednesday afternoon.
Ten players – four Americans and six Rwandans – have registered for the open section which will not be rated. Earlier on Tuesday, FM Wanyama told Times Sport that he is excited about his first trip to Rwanda.
He said: “It’s exciting considering that I’ve heard good things about Kigali. In addition, I have a few friends here I would like to meet.”
Simon Gonza, Thomas Katairo, Joshua Katumba and Joseph Kaamu – all rated above 1820 – are the other Ugandans already registered by yesterday. Ivy Kayesu is the only Ugandan lady, who has registered so far.
Kenya too is expected to be represented. On Wednesday, Mehul Gohil (2092) was the first Kenyan player to register with World Chess Federation (FIDE) arbiter, Peter Duke Michieka, who will take charge of the tournament.
Organizers also expect more including Candidate Master (CM) Ben Magana, to register for the three-day tournament, which is organized to remember the victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Rwanda’s highest rated player Fidele Mutabazi (1888) has registered as well as compatriot Eugene Mugema Kagabo (1773), the winner of last year’s edition.
The Genocide memorial tournament is the second international tournament organized by FERWADE, after the Rwanda Open in February 2016, which had competitors from Kenya, DR Congo and Burundi.
Grandmaster (GM) Ashley Maurice, the first African-American to become an international grandmaster in chess, will be a special guest.