Uganda: Picking up the pieces from the 39th World Chess Olympiad PDF 

By Luggya Vianney

The Ugandan Chess contingent that touched down at Entebbe International Airport on Wednesday 6th October 2010 on return from the 39th World Chess Olympiad at which the team performed slightly bellow expectations still has something to smile about in the bravery and fighting spirit exhibited by youngster Patrick Kawuma.

Patrick, the younger brother to two of Uganda’s only FIDE Masters (FM Steven Kawuma and FM Moses Kawuma) came short of attaining the much coveted title himself by only one point after notching 6.5 points out of the 10 games he played. Had he scored 7.5 out of 10, which is a 75% score, he would automatically become an FM. His undoing was when he got himself into a rotten position in a 10th round game against Sri-Lanka’s Koggala W.

The other highly memorable moment for Uganda from this year’s Olympaid was when FM Stephen Kawuma crushed an Argentina Grandmaster Diego Valerga in the third round, an historic moment that made him the first Ugandan to attain such a milestone after previous close shaves by two other Ugandans Grace Nsubuga and Emmanuel Kabuye only resulted into draws against GM Evgni Sveshnikov of Latvia in 2004 and GM Eugene Torre of Philipines in 1988, respectively.

Overall, Uganda’s mens team that is ranked 127 in the world finished in 106th position out of 147 countries while the ladies who were making their debut in Khanty Mansisyk finished in 101st position out of 115 teams.

Uganda's fans at the Olympiad.

The team can take heart from the fact that they performed better than their fiercest rivals from Kenya who mid way through the event almost caused a stir as they threatened to finish ahead of Uganda (for the first time in history) after pulling a couple of surprise wins ahead of mediocre opposition that propelled them to two wins ahead of their Ugandan counterparts before we bounced back in style in the last rounds. Kenya finishing ahead of Uganda in any international chess competition would tantamount to failure in the eyes of many, a Ugandan chess player.

At the end of the Olympiad, Uganda is proud of having edged several African countries including among others Ghana, Cameroon, Botswana, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Malawi, Senegal, Namibia, Mali, Angola, Rwanda and Kenya.

At individual level, Patrick, a young talent was undisputedly the country’s best performer with a 65% performance on his debut Olympiad. Harold Wanyama, who is locally rated as the country’s best player and East Africa’s Chess Champion put up a dismal and rather disappointing show finishing with 3.5 points out of 10 games after registering two wins, three draws and five losses. The only excuse for Wanyama could be that he was fielded on board one, which exposes you to the strongest opponents. That then gives more credit to Patrick who featured on board two (whose opponents are equally strong) but was able to put up a disciplined and mature display.

The usually cool headed Shadrack Kantinti was totally off-form and perhaps the worst performer after finishing with 2.5 points out of 8 games played.

Steven Kawuma finished with 5 points out of 9 games played. He started well but his confidence seems to have been shattered after lost a game he shouldn’t have lost against Libyan opposition. From then on he seems to have lost his fighting spirit and easily accepted draws (understandably) even where he would ideally have fought on under normal circumstances.

Bibasa Bob, a perennial fighter scored 3.5 points out of 7 games, an average performance by his standards.

On the whole, the 39th Chess Olympiad that was won by Ukraine turned out to be the most organized in chess history, judging from the perceptions of most players talked to from around the globe.

Olympiad Ends on a High PDF 
By Joseph Kaamu
And so it came to pass. On the final day, all teams made a last fling to improve their standings. Uganda felt that we had made our move rather late with some unnecessary draws or losses in the ninth and tenth round. But just as well. Harold Wanyama whose star has shone and faded in equal measure got off on the wrong foot by having a piece gobbled early; he resigned. Shadrack Kantinti showed how things should be done and crushed his opponent. While that was going on, Patrick Kawuma set a clever trap that the Ethiopian fell for and Pat was a piece up. The rest as they say was pure technique. That was 2-1. And sibling Steven saw that by drawing we had already sewn up the match so he saved his energy for the next Olympiad in Istanbul in 2012 ! Three one was sweet revenge on the Abyssinians as they had humiliated us some years back.
So the table in the end showed Ukraine, Russia1, Israel, Hungary and China in that order. For the fairer sex, Russia, China, Georgia, Cuba and USA were 1-5.

The table looks quite different from position 100 to 149. From midway through the Olympiad Uganda simply struggled to go below table 50 (i.e punch above our weight!), which if we did would propel us to finish in the top 100. This  enviable feat was only achieved by 5 African countries namely: Egypt 41st, Zambia 47th, South Africa 74th and Libya 78th and Algeria 89th.  In terms of performance, Uganda that was initially ranked 127th globally came out in 7th position out of 26 African Countries and 106th overall, we remained about the same as two years ago.

Below is part of the results showing Uganda and other countries.

See you then when we leave a Siberia that is rapidly beginning to snow.

Comments by Kawuma Moses
Patrick Kawuma was our shining light at the just concluded World Chess Olympiad. He was our best chess player.

The Ugandan team performed well below expectations but Patrick played really well, considering it was his first Chess Olympiad and he just missed out on a Fide Master title by 1 point. Patrick ended the tournament with 6.5/10. He won 6 games, drew 1 and lost 3. Had he got 7.5/10, he would have become an FM.

Kantinti ponders early retirement after forgettable Olympiad display PDF 

By Luggya Vianney

Uganda’s most celebrated Olympian Shaddrack Kantinti has hinted on retiring from active chess. The shocking revelation comes on the heels of a lackluster showing at the just ended 39th World Chess Olympiad in Khanty Mansiysk Russia.

Kantinti revealed this before the penultimate round of the Olympiad to the surprise of many. The usually ruthless tactician was a shadow of his former self through out this Olympiad, failing to convert even the most basic of wins after securing an overwhelming advantage with a queen for a minor piece but ended up drawing against a little known opponent from Sao Tome and Principe!! Kantinti played a total of 8 games but scored a dismal 2.5 points ending as the worst Ugandan performer with a 31.2% score. This is what his fans feel could have precipitated this rather premature retirement announcement.

Kantinti, 33 has played in every single Olympiad since the year 2000 setting an unprecedented Ugandan record of appearing at 5 consecutive Olympiads. He has a collection of silverware won from numerous local, national and regional championships.

He started out as gifted youngster from Nsambya, a Kampala surburb. It was not long before he made his mark on the national scene. Once he got there, he became an established member of the chess playing elite.

It was not clear whether his announcement meant totally quitting chess or simply keeping away from World Olympiads. It is most likely that the Uganda Chess Federation would not take this lightly as they would certainly be better off with his wealth of experience and sobriety. As a trainer or Coach, Kantinti would be a valuable asset of UCF whose skill resource base is so limited.

He will always be remembered in the chess fraternity as a fearless warrior who often attacked opponents with ruthless but reckless abandon and sacrificed pieces out of the blue, leading to complicated variations that are simply out of this world. He turned out victorious on most occasions.

From a neutral’s perspective, one would say that his only weakness has been an apparent lack of adequate conceptualization of opening theory. Once out of the established opening schemes, his opponents would have to contend with his energy, talent and natural ability to calculate original and precise moves. This quality is simply un-matched (locally) but may be compared to that of renowned players such as Grandmaster Alexander Morozevich of Russia.

His love for the game of chess and its promotion is unprecedented. At the 38th Chess Olympiad in Dresden, Germany (2008), the bulk of Uganda’s chess team was denied visas to EU until midway through the Olympiad. At the time, Uganda had only two representatives who had successfully made it in time and these were UK based FMs Steven and Moses Kawuma. The two had been featuring for Uganda’s team on boards three and four, respectively for the first 8 rounds, leaving boards one and two without any players.

When the Germany embassy in Uganda finally succumbed to pressure from all corners after relentless player appeals to the Olympiad organizers, they eventually issued visas to the rest of the local contingent. However, because it was too late with several games already played, most players gave up on the costly travel but not Kantinti who flew to Germany in time for the last three rounds. Much to their delight and astonishment, Moses and Steven were shocked on entering the playing hall to find Kantinti seated on board one of the Ugandan corner with a body language exhuming readiness for battle. After exchanging pleasantries and hugs, the trio didn’t have time to go through the reasons as to how the rest of the team had failed to make it before going straight to business and running over their unsuspecting Chinese Taipei opponents 3-1. Inspired by the arrival of Kantinti, Uganda went on to white-wash their next two opponents Madagascar and Liechtenstein by the same margin as if trying to compensate earlier round pitfalls to conclude the 2008 Olympiad in style.

As if the on-board exploits in Dresden were not enough, Kantinti bumped into Sierra Leone chess officials who were stuck with a consignment of chess equipment that they were about to abandon because they could not easily transport it to their country due to flight baggage limitations. Being the chess lover that he is, Kantinti struck a sudden deal with them, paid for the equipment out of his own pockets and flew with it to Kampala, handing it to the Uganda Chess Federation, intact. How many individuals are capable of such a noble feat!

If Kantinti were to live up to his word and retire at that age, he would join lesser accomplished talents in the likes of former Olympians Andrew Naimanye, Geoffrey Makumbi, Dr. Umar Kakumba, Steven Opio, Godfrey Bisereko and Stephen Kisuze, who hardly feature anymore. Other formerly promising talents in limbo (under-achievers) that would view Kantinti’s impending retirement as long overdue include Ivan Katamba, Kenneth Kaheru, Raphael Buti, Godfrey Luberenga, George W. Ssenyomo and Pius Mwinganisa (quite debatable whether he deserves to be mentioned in the same breath).

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