Chess Olympiad 2018: Can youngster Uwase bring the WFM title home?

Joselyne Uwase will be back in action today after being rested on Wednesday. She has already won 5 games. File photo.

In round 9 on Wednesday, the newly titled Woman Candidate Master (WCM) Joselyne Uwase, 15, was rested following her successive wins on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, at the 43rd Chess Olympiad 2018 in Batumi, Georgia.

According to Rwanda Chess Federation president, Kevin Ganza, the youngster was notably fatigued during Tuesday’s hard fought victory over Lesotho’s Likhomo Malehloa – her fifth win at the two-week competition.


The World Chess Federation (FIDE) on Monday conferred the WCM title to the young Olympiad debutante from Gikondo, a Kigali suburb, soon after her seventh game.


By Monday, she had played seven games and won four, crossing the 50 percent win mark in the 11-round tournament.


This was enough to grab the WCM title and make history as she became the first Rwandan girl, or woman, to earn a FIDE title.

With two more rounds to go, however, and after sitting out during round 9 against Mozambique on Wednesday to recharge her batteries, there is a chance she could achieve something even bigger and set the record bar higher.

In an Olympiad, a 50 percent winning rate in a minimum seven games earns a player the WCM, or CM for men. A 65 percent rate in 9 games brings the higher Woman FIDE master (WFM) or FIDE master (FM) title.

After winning her round 8 game on Tuesday, her performance stood at an encouraging 62.5 percent.

But she was too tired to carry on after long hours of deep heart-racing thinking and high tension on a chess board at a global event. She had to, by all means, miss the Mozambique clash.

Her title was awarded conditionally until she gets a rating of 1800. She went into the tournament rated 1551.

Rwanda chess federation president, Ganza, insists that Uwase’s “chances are high as she has capabilities to win all her remaining games.”

“It is good that she rested today [Wednesday] so that she returns when fresh. Her performance is, so far, very good; stronger in end games. Her confidence is also at its peak. And, most importantly, she is enjoying her stay here. Everyone’s become like a family member of hers and she is free with everyone.”

FIDE arbiter Peter Duke Michieka, a Kenyan, says Uwase has a good chance to get the WFM in the remaining games.

He said: “If she gets 65%, she gets WFM.”

Michieka so much wanted Uwase to play in round 9 and attempt to get the title as early as possible.

“She may last ages with the WCM unless Rwanda has more rated events and she gains rating points tremendously. But if there’s a chance for a direct WFM like this one, I wouldn’t rest her.”

When informed about her need for rest, he understood and said, “That is good; it’s not always good to put pressure on players. It can backfire.”

He added: “She just needs one more point. I hope she gets it in the last two games. Rwanda missed round one, remember! That was very costly. And then, Sandrine [Uwase] also at the very least would have grabbed the WCM depending on which board she would have played. Chances for WFM for both would have been very highly achievable.”

Sandrine, 15, crowned Woman National Chess Champion last December, did not travel with the team after failing to have her passport processed in time.

For a direct title to be awarded immediately, an applicant has to have achieved at some time a minimum rating of 1800 for WCM and 2000 for CM; as well as 1900 for WFM and 2100 for FM.

For the third most important title, the International Master (IM) and Woman International Master (WIM), a player must have achieved the minimum rating of 2200 and 2000, respectively.

For Grandmaster (GM) and Woman Grandmaster (WGM) titles, the minimum is 2300 and 2100 rating points, respectively.

If an applicant is rated lower the title is awarded conditionally and will be awarded finally as soon as the requisite minimum rating is achieved.


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