Rongin Munyurangabo has continued to hold onto the top spot and sealed his slot in the next round in the qualifiers for the 2020 Chess Olympiad after beating Eugene Kagabo in round 3 and sharing the spoils with Fidele Mutabazi in round 4, on Sunday.
Munyurangabo, 19, leading with 3.5 points, is unbeaten after four games.
The next phase of qualifiers is scheduled for March.
After the final two rounds scheduled to be played on Sunday, January 26, the top eight will qualify for the subsequent but tougher matches in the second round.
“Nothing is guaranteed yet, I will fight hard till the end. I know the contest has just begun, and there will be tougher games ahead. But, I will give it my all and hope for the best,” said Munyurangabo.
The youngster proved the ability and drive to brawl with tougher and senior opponents last month when he emerged second, narrowly missing out on the national championship title.
Candidate Master (CM) Godfrey Kabera – who was level with Munyurangabo at 6.5 points – clinched the coveted title courtesy of a tiebreak advantage.
Rwanda chess federation president Kevin Ganza said: “The first four rounds were mainly marked by outstanding performance from Rongin and senior player Fidele (Mutabazi).”
He added: “Munyurangabo has all the chances to be part of the five players on the national team [open]. This is based on his current performance; where he is unbeaten in the last 11 games played, in the national championships last month and the first four games of the qualifiers.”
The qualifiers will help the chess federation select one team in Open Section and one team in the Women’s Section. Each team comprises five players.
Qualifiers in the women’s category will start in March.
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.
The final phase of qualifiers will be played in May.
Munyurangabo is eager to follow in his younger sister’s footsteps this year if he makes the national team for the first time.
Two years ago, his sister, Woman FIDE master (WFM) Joselyne Uwase, 16, made history during the 43rd Chess Olympiad in Batumi, Georgia, when the World Chess Federation (FIDE) confirmed her WFM title – the highest chess rank by any Rwandan.Follow https://twitter.com/KarhangaJames