Friday, April 12, 2013
African Chess Master Ms. Phiona Mutesi (Reclaiming Chess' African Roots)
Phiona Mutesi is a Ugandan chess player. She is not certain when she was born, although FIDE has estimated it to be 1993. She grew up in the Ugandan slum of Katwe, where as of 2011 fifty percent of teen girls were mothers; when Phiona was about three her father died of AIDS and shortly afterwards her older sister Juliet died of an unknown cause. When Phiona was about nine, and had already dropped out of school as her family could not afford to send her, she found a chess program run by the Sports Outreach Institute, which taught her how to play chess. In 2010 she played on board 2 for Uganda at the 39th Chess Olympiad, and as of 2011 she was a three-time Women's Junior Champion of Uganda. In 2012, Phiona and Ivy Amoko earned Woman Candidate Master (WCM) titles as a result of their performances at the 40th Chess Olympiad, making them the first titled female players in Ugandan chess history. That same year Phiona became the first female player to win the open category of the National Junior Chess Championship in Uganda. Also in 2012, a book was published about Phiona titled, "The Queen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess, and One Extraordinary Girl's Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster", by Tim Crothers. Disney has optioned the rights to the book, and is starting work on a movie as of 2012. There is also a documentary about Phiona on YouTube. Phiona is also the youngest person ever to win the African chess championship. The Youtube link is here:
Born in the Katwe area of the Ugandan capital of Kampala in the mid-90s (probably 1995 or 1996 rather than 1993 which is FIDE's official record) and still resident there. Her father died of Aids when she was approximately three years old. , Phiona is three times women's junior champion of Uganda. She played on board 2 for Uganda at the Chess Olympiad (Women) (2010) and again represented Uganda in the Chess Olympiad (Women) (2012) in Istanbul scoring 4.5/9 (+3 =3 -3), her result landing her the Woman Candidate Master title. She and Ivy Claire Amoko share the honour of being the first Ugandan women to have won FIDE titles. Phiona has won the 3rd Edition Rwabushenyi Chess Championship - Women with 8/9 (+8 -1), and came 2nd in the Ugandan Women's championship with 8.5/10, losing only to the winner of the event, Grace Kigeni. In August 2012, she won the Ugandan National Junior Championship with 6/7, the first girl to do so.* ASHEE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Her rating as of 1 March 2013 is 1686, and she is is Uganda's second ranked female player and number 15 overall in that country.
Disney has bought the movie rights to Tim Crothers' book about Mutesi and the money paid to her by Disney has enabled her and her family to buy some land. She hopes to become a doctor and a Grandmaster.
Sister Mutesi visited Norfolk Public Schools recently: