Chess: Olympiad qualifiers continue Saturday, women section pushed to May

CM Godfrey Kabera, the reigning national champion, is joining the race in phase 2 of the Olympiad 2020 qualifiers. / Craish Bahizi.

The second phase of qualifiers to pick Rwanda’s flag bearers – in the open section – for the 44th Chess Olympiad continue this weekend at Classic Hotel in Kigali, the chess federation announced Friday.

However, the initial qualifiers round in the women's section, which was earlier set to start this Saturday, has been pushed to May 16-17.

 

This came as the federation realized that most of the country’s top women chess players are secondary school students now preparing for end of first term exams.

 

Only 12 players are competing for the five available slots on the national team in the open section.

 

In the open section, eight players who made through the first phase in January will join four higher-ranked players who had a bye in the preliminary phase.

Like the previous stage, this second phase will be played over two consecutive weekends.

There are, however, last minute changes to the lineup after two players dropped out on Friday.

Fidele Mutabazi informed organizers that he could not make the second phase games as he was out of the country. That meant that number nine from the January event, Kevin Ganza, automatically came back into the race.

Ben Tom Zimurinda, who was number six in January, also announced he was withdrawing, implying that number 10 from the previous contest, James Karuhanga, rejoins the contest.

By press time Friday, it was not clear if there would be any more abandons.

New list

After the abrupt exits of Mutabazi and Zimurinda, the new list of contestants had: Rongin Munyurangabo, Eugene Kagabo Mugema, Ian Murara Urwintwari, Elysée Tuyizere, Ben Patrick Cyubahiro, Methode Twizeyimana, Ganza, Karuhanga and the four players who did not partake in the preliminary phase.

The four are Candidate Masters Godfrey Kabera and Maxence Murara, as well as Maranatha Nduwayesu and Joseph Nzabanita – the only active players with Elo ratings above 1800.

Named after its creator Arpad Elo, a Hungarian-American physics professor, the Elo rating system is a method for calculating the relative skill levels of players in zero-sum games such as chess.

When the second round of qualifiers ends, on March 22, only eight best players will continue to the third and final round of qualifiers.

The next phase, in May, will also mark the beginning of the qualifiers in the women’s section.

Five players are selected in each section.

The final phase starting on May 16 – and running for two consecutive weekends – will be in a single round robin format.

Organized by the world chess federation (FIDE), the Olympiad is a biennial chess tournament bringing together teams from all over the world.

The 2020 edition will be held in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, from August 5 to 18.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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