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Youngster Uwase lands Rwanda’s first WCM title

Joselyne Uwase, 15, is Rwanda’s first and only female chess player to reach the feat. She is seen here in action during a past local tournament in Kigali. File photo.

The World Chess Federation (FIDE) on Monday conferred the title of Woman Candidate Master (WCM) to Rwandan youngster Joselyne Uwase. The 15-year- old is one of the ten players representing the country at the ongoing Chess Olympiad 2018 in Batumi, Georgia.

Uwase and 49 other ladies from different countries earned their WCM titles last night at the end of round 7 of the competition. She is the first Rwandan female to earn the title.


In the men’s category, Rwanda has three Candidate Masters (CMs).


Uwase’s historic feat came after registering her fourth win, out of six games, in the 11-round tournament.


Speaking from Nairobi, Peter Duke Michieka, Kenya’s FIDE arbiter who has observed Uwase in action during past local tournaments, said “if the team continues performing well, other higher titles and norms are up for grabs. What Uwase achieved – in just 7 rounds – is incredible.”

At a Chess Olympiad, the minimum of 50 per cent wins earns the WCM or CM title. A 65 per cent individual winning performance earns the higher Woman FIDE Master (WFM) or FIDE Master (FM) title.

Uwase’s title, like many others, is awarded conditionally until she gets a rating of 1800. She went into the tournament rated 1551.

Michieka said: “If an applicant is rated lower the title is awarded conditionally and will be awarded permanently on request by the federation as soon as the minimum rating is achieved. Any player with a conditional title may take a lower title when they reach the required rating for that lower title. If Uwase gets 65% wins, she gets WFM.”

Michieka is full of praise for the teen-dominated Rwandan women squad at the tournament and said they could have done far better had they travelled with Sandrine Uwase.

He said: “I can imagine the impact Sandrine would have had had she been on the team; she herself would have won a title and more points for the team considering her strength.”

Sandrine Uwase, who was crowned Woman National Chess Champion last December, did not travel to Georgia with the team after failing to have her passport processed in time.

On Monday, while the Open team continued to suffer, teenagers Christelle Uwamahoro, 14, Uwase and Layola Murara Umuhoza, both 15, trounced opponents from Bermuda as Rwanda’s women team put up yet another impressive showing.

Chess Olympiad, held every two years, is the world’s biggest team contest. More than 180 countries are represented at the 43rd edition in Georgia.


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