KAMPALA. 2018 will forever be memorable in the chess circles as one of the best years for the sport.
During the year, Uganda shone both locally and internationally, winning junior, youth and amateur continental tourneys and also making a statement on the world stage.
Hence, leading to the rise of a new generation of stars that will give Uganda a competitive edge on the continent and beyond.
Uganda Chess Federation (UCF) president Emmanuel Mwaka described 2018 as “the best year in Uganda’s chess history.”
Nansubuga the surprise at the Olympiad
Even though there was no team glory at the World Chess Olympiad in Batumi Georgia, 17-year-old Gloria Nansubuga, a student of St Mbuga Vocational Secondary School who also features for SOM Academy on the local stage, made an individual statement to keep the Ugandan flag flying high.
With no titles and bearing the least rating amongst the team, Nansubuga shocked everyone as she finished the nine-game series unbeaten defeating and forcing even the fierce opponents to settle for a share of spoils.
She won five games and two draws against Russia’s Woman International Master Van Zyl Charlize and Canada’s WFM Demchenko Svitlana to fetch six points at her maiden appearance on the World stage.
Nansubuga featured alongside; Queen of Katwe and World Candidate Master Phiona Mutesi, Penina Nakabo, Shakira Ampaire, and World Fide Master Christine Namaganda.
Nansubuga’s impressive show at the Olympiad earned her the Woman FIDE Master title and she is the fifth and youngest female WFM title holder in Uganda.
She follows in Ivy Amoko’s footsteps who earned the same title at the 2014 Olympiad in Norway.
Nansubuga’s teammates Shakira Ampaire and Peninah Nakabo, who were also making their maiden appearance at the event, finished with 4.5 points each. While Woman Candidate Master (WCM) Phiona Mutesi and WFM Christine Namaganda ended the contest with 2.5 and 1.5 points respectively as Uganda’s team finished in 96th out of 150 teams.
Away from the Olympiad, Uganda was also a force to reckon with on the continent. Peninah Nakabo won gold at the African Amateur Chess Championship in Zambia back in March and she continued her impressive show at the World Amateur Championships in Italy where she scooped bronze.
After her impressive show at the two major international events, the 25-year-old Kireka Panther player was named the Nile Special/Uganda Special Press Association (USPA) personality for April and she has now set her eyes on earning the WFM title.
The National Junior team captained by 12-year-old Maria Nakanyike was also dominant at the Africa Youth Championship in Kisumu where they won silver.
At the same event, 14-year-old Victor Kanyike won himself Candidate Master title after finishing second.
Kireka chess club A made it four in a row after beating Lweza chess Club 5-0 on the last day to break the deadlock. Both Kireka Panthers and Mulago Kings were locked on 12 points after 13 rounds and the title race was still open to all the three clubs. But Kireka would stand tall in the final round to take the league crown.
Away from competitions, at the 43rd FIDE Annual General Meeting held in Batumi Georgia, UCF president Mwaka was elected as an executive board member representing Africa at the global chess governing body.
“The position allows us to lobby for more support for Uganda and Africa at large,” Mwaka told this paper.
Uganda was also nominated to host the Africa youth championship which is slated to start on December 28 this year.
2018 chess in brief
Peninah Nakabo becomes African Amateur champion in March after winning gold in Zambia. Later in May, she won the world amateur bronze in Italy.
Maria Akaike is USPA ladies player of the year.
IM Arthur Segwanyi is national champion.
Victor Kanika won Candidate Master title at African Youth chess championship in Kisumu.
Gloria Nsubuga won Woman Fide Master at Batumi Georgia Olympiad.
FM Patrick Kakuma won the Rwabushenyi Open chess championship.
Kireka A are national league champions.