Chess Olympiad 2018: Uwase shines as Rwandans endure rough round 4

Joselyne Uwase, 15, could earn a title if she wins 50% of her games in the ongoing Chess Olympiad in Georgia. The teen is seen here playing with a friend at her home in Gikondo last year. File photo


Women:  Rwanda vs Iraq              

Odile Kalisa Kayitesi             vs           Sami Abbas Al-Attraqchi Nabaa (1831)               

Layola Murara Umuhoza  vs          WFM Sali Abbas Abdulzahra (1848)               

Joselyne Uwase (1551)         vs          WCM Yamama Asif Abdula (1604)                      

Aline Niyonsaba                   vs          Jamal Mohammed ALQamachi (1515)        

Open: Rwanda vs Jamaica

Fidele Mutabazi (1818)       vs          FM Warren Elliott (2206)

Joseph Nzabanita (1849)    vs          FM Ras Malaku Lorne (2161)

Ian Urwintwari (1677)        vs         CM Duane Rowe (2147)

Alain Niyibizi (1756)           vs         CM Shreyas Smith (2193)

Fifteen year old Joselyne Uwase was the only Rwandan victor yesterday as the Women team lost to Malawi while their compatriots in the Open section were humbled by South Korea in round 4 of the ongoing Chess Olympiad 2018 in Batumi, Georgia.

Teammates’ games were still midway when Uwase delivered an extra touch of skill, checkmating Malawi’s Anne Simwaba after 43 moves.

Uwase then left the playing hall – as per tournament regulations – hoping that all or at least two of her teammates would win also.

She joined reserve player Christelle Uwamahoro, 14, in the exhibition area of the Sport Palace, a very spacious modern complex that is the tournament’s venue, and played on a giant chessboard.

Unfortunately, however, one by one, her teammates – save for Layola Murara Umuhoza, 15, who battled to a draw versus Desiderata Nkhoma – surrendered after grueling hours of deep thinking.

In the Open section, no Rwandan managed a win, or a draw, against the South Koreans.

Uwase now has two wins in three games after also winning her round 2 encounter with a Burundian opponent, on Tuesday. Rwanda missed the opening round on Monday.

“Josée is doing super good!” said the Rwanda chess federation president, Kevin Ganza, when asked how the teenager is coping in her new environment.

Uwase’s win and Umuhoza’s draw on Thursday implies the Women team has 4.5 points as it heads into round 5 today against the Iraqis who have 6.5 points.

In the Open section, Rwandans still have 3.5 points as they face the Jamaicans who have collected 5 points so far.

Ganza who accompanied the team in Batumi, told Times Sport in a telephone interview that in the Open section, “our match with South Korea seemed to be another opportunity for Rwanda to gain points, although they were ahead of us on rating average.”

“For Women, we missed a perfect win because on the four boards, our players were clearly leading the game but [lack of] experience to handle pressure in a big tournament caught up with them.”

Ganza added: “I am happy that our young players are fighting well, and still confident that they will get titles.”

Ganza did not say much about the Rwandan teams’ opponents today but acknowledged that Jamaica “is very strong,” and, “we shall only hope the four days exposure will yield good results. Iraq is also a good team; same applies.”

In the Open section, team Captain Valentin Rukimbira, has rested Candidate Master (CM) Maxence Murara and brought in reserve player Alain Niyibizi to play on board four.

Held every two years, Chess Olympiad is the world’s biggest chess tournament – equivalent to FIFA World Cup in football. It is contested by the best players from all over the world, and is comprised of Open and Women’s tournaments as well as other events to promote the game.