The final phase of the Chess Olympiad qualifiers meant to select the country’s teams for this year’s 43rd Chess Olympiad start on Saturday at IPRC-Kigali in Kicukiro, according to the Rwanda Chess Federation (FERWADE).
It will be a tough encounter in which 10 already known players, all of them men, will vie for five places on the open team. Women and girls will also tussle it out, separately, for the five slots on the women’s team.
At the end of the next two consecutive weekends, Rwanda’s flag bearers for the 43rd Chess Olympiad scheduled to be held in Batumi, the second-largest city of Georgia, from September 23 to October 7, will be known.
The 10 set to tussle it out for places on the open team include the top four winners – Dr. Ben Karenzi, Joseph Nzabanita, Valentin Rukimbira and Candidate Master (CM) Godfrey Kabera, respectively – of last month’s National Chess Championship.
Others are; Alain Patience Niyibizi, Eugene Kagabo Mugema, CM Maxence Murara and his son Ian Murara Urwintwari, Asad Ndangiza and Fidele Mutabazi, respectively, who made it through to the final phase of the qualifiers in January.
Urwintwari, 15, is the only contestant under 32 years in the open section.
Four teenage girls
By press time Friday, four ladies – including four teenagers, Christella Uwamahoro and Layola Umuhoza, both 14, as well as Joselyne Uwase and Sandrine Uwase (reigning national women champion), both 15, were known as set on competing. Odile Kalisa is the other contestant.
Four years ago, Umuhoza, Christella Rugabira, Marie-Faustine Shimwa, Monique Uwinkesha and Aline Niyonsaba represented Rwanda at the 41st World Chess Olympiad 2014 in Tromsø, Norway.
By and large, the final phase is anticipated to be a much tougher event as players have been training hard. The Chess Olympiad is a biennial chess tournament where teams from all over the world compete.
It is organized by the world chess federation (FIDE) and it comprises open and women’s tournaments, as well as several events designed to promote the game of chess.
In 2016 the national team did not make it to the 42nd Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan, due to financial difficulties and hitches in travel preparations.