STEVEN KAWUMA MAKES HISTORY AS FIRST UGANDAN TO BEAT GRANDMASTER AT WORLD OLYMPIAD
By Vianney Luggya in Khanty Mansiysk
Uganda’s UK based FM Steven Kawuma made history at the 39th World Chess Olympiad in Khanty Mansisyk after becoming the first Ugandan to beat a Grandmaster at the Olympaid when he downed Argentina’s GM Diego Valerga with a Kings Indian defence in round three.
The only other major historical feats attained by Ugandan chess players against Grandmasters at past Olympiads include draws by Grace Nsubuga against GM Evgni Sveshnikov of Latvia in 2004 and Emmanuel Kabuye against GM Eugene Torre of Philipines in 1988.
The other spectacular performances in Khanty Mansisyk (2010) so far include Bob Bibasa’s first round draw against Switzerland’s International Master Buss Ralph in a Sicilian Alapin opening and Harold Wanyama’s draw against Faroe Island’s IM John Rodgaard in a game that took on a Queens Gambit (Slav) defence. Wanyama seemed comfortable through out the game and displayed immense skill and composure as he attacked his opponent with consistency and determination, using only 30 minutes of his allotted time while the IM was left with only 2 minutes on his clock by the time they agreed to a draw in a theoretically drawn ending.
In round one, Uganda’s Men’s team was up against highly rated Switzerland. On board one, Wanyama lost a good game against Switzerland’s GM Pelletier Yannick, Patrick Kawuma lost to International Master (IM) Roland Ekstroem, Shadrack Kantinti lost to IM Oliver Kurmann as Bob Bibasa made Uganda proud with a calm display that earned him a draw against IM Ralph Buss who is rated 2433 as compared to Bibasa’s 2189.
In round two, the boys were out with all guns blazing to register a 4-0 win over Seychelles. Wanyama, Patrick Kawuma, Kantinti and Steven Kawuma all notched wins against Seychelles’ Kurt Meier, Ragul Pillay, Kasthuri Vinayagamurthy and Eli Louise respectively.
The win put Uganda in the path of more fancied and Grandmaster studded Argentina in the third round to whom the team lost 1-3. FM Steven Kawuma was the hero on that occasion after beating Argentina’s Grandmaster Diego Valerga. On other boards, Wanyama, Patrick Kawuma and Kantinti all fell at the hands of Grandmasters Diego Flores, Peralta Fernando and Lafuente Pablo respectively. Amongst the losers, Wanyama had a much better game having had his highly skilled opponent on the receiving end for a bigger part of the game only to crumple in the end game.
The results of this round, especially Kawuma’s win against a Grandmaster instilled self belief and confidence in the team. In the past, the mere knowledge that a Ugandan was up against a Grandmaster was enough to instill fear and anxiety. Kawuma’s spectacular win demystified that and could be a springboard for other players to emulate his feat.
In round 4, Uganda hammered Surinam 3.5 – 1.5 after Wanyama, P. Kawuma and Bibasa outwitted Gajan Dewperkash, Franklin Mungroo and Willem Veer while S. Kawuma was held by Hanoeman Suradj.
Their was a much bigger challenge in the fifth round against Faroe Island, a team that Uganda has faced at many of the past Olympiads. The final score was 3-1 in favour of the Islanders after Wanyama and S. Kawuma forced draws against IM J. Rodgaard and FM samuelsen Nolsoe respectively as Kantinti and Bibasa fell at the hands of Berg Olaf and Jolaf Andreasen.
In the sixth round to be played later in the afternoon on Monday 27th September 2010, Uganda’s mens team was up against Yemen while the ladies were up against Panama.