The final round of the World Chess Olympiad in Batumi, Georgia, is now completed! Spanning 11 rounds over 12 days, it was a grueling schedule even for the most experienced players. Many games would last 4 hours, and some even longer.
The Ugandan women's team ended up dropping their final match to South Africa 1.5-2.5;. In spite of this loss, they ended up tied for 84th place (96th on tiebreaks), while they started the event ranked 114th out of 150 women's teams.
The BIG and AMAZING result this Olympiad revolves around Gloria Nansubuga. As a 5 year old, Gloria taught 10 year old Phiona Mutesi how the chess pieces moved on Phiona’s first day in the SOM Chess Academy (as depicted in Disney’s Queen of Katwe live-action movie). This year, Gloria was called up to participate in the qualifier for the Olympiad because of a last-minute drop. She was not expected to perform highly, yet she qualified in that match to be one of the 5 ladies on the Ugandan Olympiad team. In the Olympiad she scored the highest of her team mates, winning 6.0 out of 9 games played, and gaining over 100 ELO (rating) points!
Not only this, but her performance has earned her the Women's FIDE Master title! She is the FIRST Ugandan lady to earn this title based on results in a World Event!
In August 2016, I had the chance to travel to Kampala, Uganda, to coach the Uganda Women’s Olympiad team as they prepared for the 42nd Chess Olympiad. While there, I met Gloria for the first time. In the picture below, Gloria, Sarah Katende (wife of Robert Katende, founder of the Robert Katende Initiative), and I were visiting Gloria’s aunties. The boards on the left side of the picture are her aunties’ home- a 6’ x 6’ dwelling. Gloria’s impoverished background makes her successes all the more inspiring.
In other Olympiad news, the US men's team tied for first with China but took silver on tiebreaks. This is just the opposite of 2 years ago where US and China also tied, with US taking gold on tiebreaks. This year, China won gold for both the men's and women's teams!
I left the Olympiad Thursday morning (the last round was Friday). Three flights, two layovers, 20 hours, and 10,000km later, I arrived in Pittsburgh in time to participate in Chess Week events.
Friday, 10/6, I visited a school chess club in Pittsburgh with Ashley Priore. Ashley’s list of accomplishments is impressive: Starting a non-profit The Queen's Gambit Institute, catalyzing a movement around chess that resulted in the official annual Pittsburgh Week of Chess, giving a TEDx talk, and now starting college at the University of Pittsburgh - yes, that's right, she's all of 18 years old and already making great steps forward to lead social impact through chess.
I had a good time working with a few students, playing a blindfold chess game, working with students on a few strategies, and sharing about the Mindsets of Success such as are featured in my new book A Pawn's Journey. As part of the event, I gave the students Chess4Life wristbands with the Chess4Life motto "Win.Draw.Learn." engraved on them.
I’m looking forward to tomorrow's tournament, simul, and book signing event at the University of Pittsburgh!
PS - Look for a special announcement next week with A Pawn's Journey official book release on Tuesday Oct 9th!