Dr Ben Karenzi, who was crowned the national chess champion for 2017 on Sunday, has pledged to use his title to promote the sport among the country’s youth.
The former head of Rwanda Military Hospital, Kanombe, along with Sandrine Uwase, a 15-year old, were crowned men and women national champions, respectively, after trouncing their opponents during the individual contest over the last two consecutive weekends at the University of Rwanda-Gikondo campus.
Dr Karenzi, a retired Colonel, who had been inactive in chess for several years said it is “always a nice feeling” when one wins.
“I feel good that I am back into competitive chess. Chess is a great game. It is essentially a strategy game that can be applied in all aspects of life; business, studies and daily life’s challenges. Chess focuses brain power on systematic analysis and approaches to problem-solving,” he said.
Added the fresh champion: “I will use my time as champion to promote chess among the youth. Chess should be promoted and played competitively in universities and other institutions of higher learning. Secondary schools should also give chess room in their sports curriculum.”
Karenzi said he will encourage government to use chess in the campaign against substance abuse and drug addiction. “Chess helps in the rejuvenation of brain capacities in the rehab process,” he said.
Rwanda Chess Federation (Ferwade) president Kevin Ganza told Times Sport that, “It is a good comeback for Dr Karenzi, who has been away for long due to work. He really deserves the title. He ran over his opponents with ease.”
Karenzi’s journey to winning the converted title saw him dispatch Asad Ndangiza before losing to Candidate Master (CM) Godfrey Kabera. On day two, Dr Karenzi thrashed Eugene Mugema Kagabo before dispatching his son, Kevin Gisa Karenzi.
The last four rounds last weekend were the most decisive. And, in round five, Karenzi proved his determination against CM Maxence Murara.
Kabera, who was by then leading, suffered a shock defeat against Ben Tom Zimurinda and things changed dramatically at the top of the table. Dr Karenzi defeated Zimurinda in round six and consolidated his advantage in the open section.
After conquering Joseph Nzabanita in round seven, Karenzi drew with Valentin Rukimbira in the final round, thus winning the contest with a total 6.5 points out of eight games.
Besides the national title, Karenzi also bagged 159 precious rating points that will see his standard FIDE rating considerably go up. Alain Patience Niyibizi and Marie Faustine Shimwa are the outgoing champions in the male and female categories, respectively.