Round three of the ongoing 2018 National Chess Championships produced another shock of the tournament when Florent Niyongira defeated Valentin Rukimbira in the open section at IPRC-Kigali, in Kicukiro.
After the opening three rounds, unbeaten Niyongira led with 3 points followed by Dr Ben Karenzi and Joseph Nzabanita, each with 2.5 points.
Niyongira, playing black, was then paired against Nzabanita in what was set to be the main match of round four Sunday afternoon. It was still underway by press time.
Karenzi, and Sandrine Uwase, 16, are trying to defend their titles in the open and ladies sections, respectively.
Karenzi and Uwase were crowned 2017 male and female National Chess Champions, respectively, last December but now face tricky ties in an attempt to keep their titles.
In the ladies section, a single round robin format is being used and all eight contenders know who they are to face in each of their seven rounds.
Sandrine Uwase, a teen from the Kigali suburb of Gikondo, on Saturday defied the odds when she defeated her neighbor, Woman FIDE master (WFM) Joselyne Uwase, 15, in round one. Most observers had put their money on the WFM to win the tie considering her recent form.
Fresh from the 43rd Chess Olympiad in Georgia where the World Chess Federation (FIDE) confirmed her title – the first in Rwanda – Joselyne was considered to be the biggest threat to the reigning champion but it was not to be.
In round three, Sandrine tamed Françoise Uwimana, 16, and waited for her tough round four encounter with Anna Ngarambe, 16, captain of the Lycée Notre Dame de Cîteaux (LNDC) chess club, in the afternoon.
During last week’s U-18 championships, Sandrine escaped narrowly when the LNDC captain nearly snatched a win in their round six meeting. Their second competitive meeting, in a space of seven days, was also still going on by press time.
During round three, WFM Uwase beat Happiness Mutete to make two points after three games.