CHESS OLYMPIAD qualifiers started yesterday in search for five players who will represent Rwanda in the biannual International Chess Olympiad set for August in Tromso, Norway.
The Rwanda Chess Federation (FERWADE) president Kevin Ganza is optimistic that the country will be well represented.
The qualifiers were held at KIST featuring the top eight players in the country led by the reigning national champion, Godfrey Kabera. The eight were selected from 20 competitors that participated in a national tournament in December last year. Kabera is ranked at 1909 internationally.
“The eight players are the cream of Rwanda’s chess society and I am very confident that they will be tough to play against and have the quality to pull off a surprise in the Chess Olympiad,” said Ganza.
Rwanda has participated in several previous Chess Olympiads but failed to impress - and the country is currently ranked 145 by the World Chess Federation, behind regional giants Uganda at 105, Burundi at 128 and Kenya at 139.
Meanwhile, the vice president of World Chess Federation, Ali Nihat Yazici and president of African Chess Confederation, Lakhdar Mazouz, are expected to visit Rwanda in May this year to gauge preparations for the international competition as well as inspire contestants.
Last year in July, Grandmaster Gary Kasparov visited Rwanda and announced his foundation’s program to provide equipment, training manuals, coaching experts and material support to improve the sport in schools for a period of four years.