Qualifiers for 2020 Chess Olympiad start Saturday

Ben Patrick Cyubahiro, 15, is one of the players to watch. Craish Bahizi.

The first phase of qualifiers to select Rwanda’s flag bearers, in the open section, for the 44th Chess Olympiad begins Saturday at the University of Rwanda’s Gikondo Campus – formerly SFB.

The Chess Olympiad is a biennial chess tournament in which teams from all over the world compete. The 2020 edition will be held in the Russian city of Khanty-Mansiysk from August 5 to 18.

Four rounds will be played this weekend. Two other rounds in this preliminary six-round contest will be played on January 26 at the same venue.

Eventually, the best eight in the upcoming open section contest will join Rwanda’s top four chess players – rated above 1800 – in the second phase of qualification competitions in March.

According to the Rwanda Chess Federation, qualifiers in the women section will also start in March.

The final phase of qualifiers – both in the open and women sections – will be played in May.

Only five players are selected for the national team in both sections.

Two years ago, at the end of the 2018 Chess Olympiad held in Batumi, Georgia, the World Chess Federation (FIDE) confirmed two titles on two Rwandan teenage girls, a feat that gave hope to the local chess federation.


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