A chess school in Kampala wanted to keep kids off the streets, now it has two world stars – Quartz

Gloria Nansubuga wasn’t even meant to go to the Chess Olympiad. Her coach has been keeping her out of competition, so that she could focus on preparing for her university entry exams. But when a national team player dropped out, she tried for it, at the last minute. The 17-year old, not only made the team, but also went on to win two titles at the Olympiad in Georgia, this October. It was the most impressive performance by any Ugandan player at the Olympiad, ever.

“In my last game, I needed a draw. We were playing South Africa. My opponent was an International Master. I was in fear. I didn’t believe I could get a draw against an International Master,” Nansubuga who had no title, prior to the tournament, recalls. Together with Phiona Mutesi, Uganda’s best known chess player, Nansubuga spent the night reviewing all the games her opponent had ever played. By morning, she had figured out what her own responses to the moves would be.

Nansubuga, who had earlier in the same tournament become a Woman Candidate Master, now became a Woman FIDE Master. Chess has four title ranks: Candidate Master, FIDE Master, International Master, and Grand Master, in that order. Titles given in the women’s competition are prefixed with a gender marker: Woman. Nansubuga’s title is one above Mutesi’s, although the latter is better known, thanks to the 2016 Disney movie Queen of Katwe. Robert Katende who is played by David Oyelowo in the movie coaches both players.

Reuters/Danny Moloshok

(L to R) Robert Katende and Phiona Mutesi, who are portrayed in “Queen of Katwe” pose along with director Mira Nair, actor Madina Nalwanga, Lupita Nyong’o, David Oyelowo and actor Martin Kabanza during its Los Angeles premiere in Hollywood in 2016.

Queen of Katwe tells Mutesi’s journey from destitution in Katwe, one of Kampala’s biggest slums, to titled chess player (Candidate Master). Nansubuga’s journey is identical. In fact in the movie, she is the little girl who shows Mutesi her very first winning chess moves. Nansubuga started going to Katende’s chess shelter, at the age of four.

Perhaps most inspiring about these young players’ story, is that in the long run they won’t be outliers. “I expect to get a grand master,” Katende says. An engineer by training, he has instead spent all his working life using sports for social work in Kampala’s slums. “I started with soccer but in slums, the space is very limited. We didn’t even engage any girls with soccer. When I started chess, all the kids who could not play soccer showed up.”

Robert Katende


What he learnt, when he started teaching children the game, is that “chess is a metaphor for life,” especially for people living in poverty. Whether you are talking about chess or life in the slum, “it is one complex puzzle. You plan for this, it changes suddenly,” Katende says. Used to quick problem solving in their own lives, slum children, it turns out, are excellent at playing chess.

SOM Academy

So, to Katende, producing two titled players is the smaller of his achievements. “I don’t hype the wins so much. The way I use chess is: transforming lives through this platform,” Scores have been transformed. With chess training and practice at his Sports Outreach Ministry, Katende keeps the children busy and out of the alleys, but he spends most of his time looking for academic aid.

Robert Katende leads an instruction classTwelve years ago, he entered a partnership with a local school, St Mbuga Vocational Institute. It offers his students a 25% discount on tuition, because they help it dominate national chess competitions. He sources the 75% from local and international charities, via his robertkatende.org. This way, he has put more than 50 Katwe children, including Nansubuga, Mutesi and Benjamin Mukunja (Nansubuga’s brother) through school. The latter two are doing their undergraduate studies in the US at Northwestern University with tuition scholarships.

Since it’s very difficult to make a living as a professional chess player, Katende is far happier with academic outcomes. Still, even he admits that Chess Olympiad titles are great. “It is a great motivation for the players and it continues to show them that irrespective of where we come from, we can also make it.”

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Fischer vs. Spassky | World Chess Championship 1972 – Chess.com

The most exciting world championships of all-time countdown ends with a nearly consensus pick: Bobby Fischer vs. Boris Spassky in 1972 in Iceland.

The match tallied an amazing 72 points (with eight judges, a maximum score would have been 80), which was 35 higher than second place. Fischer vs. Spassky was the only match that every single judge voted for.

Six of the eight panelists from the Chess.com content team ranked it number one; NM Sam Copeland had it second place and NM Dane Mattson ranked it third. Recall that their votes for first place were Kasparov vs. Karpov, 1987 (Copeland) and Botvinnik vs. Bronstein, 1951 (Mattson). 

The winning match will come as a no surprise to those readers following the list of the top 10, as omitting it would be the editorial equivalent of blundering scholar’s mate. While the match did not come down to the final game, it did have plenty going for it. To wit:

  • Plenty of Cold-War era overtones, as the Soviet Union often equated chess dominance with intellectual and educational superiority
  • The ideal of the “solitary man” as Fischer was almost an island against a cadre of players and government officials assisting Spassky
  • Fischer’s remarkable run in the Interzonal and Candidates’ matches were he won 20 games in a row (the final seven in the Interzonal in Spain, two 6-0 match routs against Mark Taimanov and Bent Larsen, and the first game in the finals against Tigran Petrosian).
  • Fischer threatening to not attend the match at all, even eliciting the intervention of U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who phoned the American to plead with him to attend
  • Live coverage provided in the U.S. with NM Bruce Pandolfini and Shelby Lyman, helping to later inspire a “Fischer boom” of American clubs and tournament players
  • The dull draw in game one getting turned on its head with Fischer’s profligate 29…Bxh2?!, which has become one of the most analyzed moves in chess history
  • Fischer’s forfeit in game two and the related conspiracy theories of cameras, chairs and electronic bugs (the match even moved to a private room for one game upon resumption)
  • The quickness of his comeback, including his first-ever win against Spassky in game three with 11…Nh5!, a move so surprising it is even its own t-shirt
  • Overall, nine(!) of the first 13 games decisive, something we may never see again in a world championship match
  • The first-ever official world championship for an American, ending a run of 10 consecutive matches won by Soviet players
  • All of the media, Hollywood movies, documentaries, FBI, and KGB files released decades later, where the chess public is still learning more about the match to this day

If you are feeling the intense buildup from this article, just think about how it must have felt in 1972! On to the games:

In the opener, Fischer went recklessly pawn-grabbing, which cost him the point, but in doing so he set the tone as a fearless player that wouldn’t settle for quiet draws.

The next day, Fischer dug himself an 0-2 hole and lost one of his turns with White when he refused to show up because of the proximity of television cameras. The match moved to a “ping pong” room for game three, where Fischer struck back with a knight posting that is now immortalized on a t-shirt by the Q Boutique in St. Louis.


Spassky stabilized the situation briefly with a draw as Black in game four, but then Fischer won the next two to take the lead. Game five knotted the match at 2.5-2.5 after the reigning champion fell victim to a blunder reminiscent of Fischer’s Candidates’ opponents. “Fischer fever” seemed to still be contagious:

Fischer took the lead in game six by playing the Queen’s Gambit for the first time in his life. The movie “Pawn Sacrifice” called this effort the best chess game of all time. While that superlative is highly debatable, it was a punishing effort by Fischer, and the opposite of winning via one-move blunder:

Here’s that Hollywood treatment of game six:

It’s true what you saw in the film—Spassky really did applaud with the audience following the game.

Fischer picked up another game in round eight, then won again on this next turn with White to make the score 6.5-3.5. His long tactic led to an interesting ending of rook against bishop+two passers, but Spassky barely even managed to have them cross the halfway point of the chessboard.

Spassky got his best win of the match the next round to briefly make it interesting (his only other wins were the first two rounds—the speculative Bxh2 game and the forfeit). In fact, Fischer was crushed in the Najdorf Poisoned Pawn variation, his only loss ever as Black in that opening.

Fischer then uncorked Alekhine’s Defense in round 13, but it is the ending that this win will be best remembered for. In case you are wondering, don’t believe the equivalency you were taught as a child. Five passed pawns beats a rook!

Here’s the praise heaped upon the game from another world championship challenger, David Bronstein:

“Of all the games from the match, the 13th appeals to me most of all. When I play through the game I still cannot grasp the innermost motive behind this or that plan or even individual move. Like an enigma, it still teases my imagination.”

Fischer rode out his lead with seven consecutive draws, and then won the title when Spassky resigned by phone in a losing position in game 21. The final score was 12.5-8.5 for Fischer.

Will Caruana-Carlsen 2018 live up to this 1972 match? Will it even make a future “top-10” list of most exciting world championships? We will all find out soon! Let us know in the comments if you think the upcoming match could possibly top any of the ones from our list.

The Most Exciting World Chess Championships Ever:

2018 World Chess Championship Opens In London – Chess.com

One of the most anticipated world championship matches in recent memory kicked off Thursday at the The College in Holborn, London. For the first time since 1990, the biggest belt in chess will be contested by the world’s top two players.

Not only will Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana be contesting the world championship in this cavernous, stone building, but if there’s a winner in regulation then that person will also be the number-one rated player. You have to go back five years for the last time Carlsen wasn’t world champion. Add two more years for the last time he wasn’t the highest-rated player.


The view that spectators will have of the action, behind one-way glass. | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

The two men are remarkably close in rating (Carlsen is merely three points to the good) and they are separated even less alphabetically: just one other grandmaster divides them on a roster. They are only one year apart in age (Carlsen 27, Caruana 26) and both even had final training camps in the same country (Spain).

FIDE press officer Danny King showing that the two players are so close in rating.

FIDE press officer Danny King showing that the two players are so close in rating. | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

Today both entered a darkened but packed press conference area. The two pugilists looked about the same as they usually do. They even dressed like any other event—Carlsen in his sponsored black jacket and white shirt; Caruana in his dark-blue casual jacket (the same he has worn in tournaments like the 2018 Sinquefield Cup).

Neither directly looked at each other during the 30-minute press conference. In fact, they both seemed to avoid eye contact with anyone. Except when answering a direct question, Carlsen looked up and seemingly over the crowd of journalists, while Caruana’s gaze was often at the floor while others were speaking. For the American, he immediately took some water as soon as he sat down. Unlike the champ, he’d almost certainly never faced such a throng of leering lenses.

Magnus Carlsen

Magnus Carlsen looked serious and stern, until he got a chance to add some levity. Pretty much the usual for him. | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

Eventually they both became animated at the wide array of questions, both serious, and silly. Below are some of the highlights of the short session.

When asked if he was playing not just for himself, but for the chance for the U.S. to regain the the world championship for the first time in more than four decades, Caruana said: “I mostly try to approach tournaments as an individual. If I have success of course I’d like to share it with the United States. But at the board chess players are all alone.” (Later he also gave a nod to his Italian ancestry and dual citizenship and to his time with that federation.)

Caruana added later that he’d like to be compared one day with Bobby Fischer, but that can’t happen until at least the end of the month. “If I win it will be more apt,” he said.

Fabiano Caruana

Fabiano Caruana, with the weight of two countries on his shoulders. | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

One reporter wanted to know if Carlsen thought chess was now cool. For him, he can’t remember it being any other way.

“Personally I’ve found chess the coolest thing in the world since I was eight years old,” Carlsen said.

Is this year any different than the three previous world championship matches? Carlsen mixed his usual blend of a serious answer and a “Hollywood Squares” style joke response.

“You always feel differently,” he said. Then the small joke: “I’m a bit older, so I feel older.”

Magnus Carlsen

Does Carlsen look older? You decide. | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

Both players have given revealing interviews in the lead-up to the match (make sure to check out GM Jonathan Tisdall’s excellent summary including fascinating quotes by sister Ellen Carlsen). But at least one may not have been terribly accurate. When asked about an interview in mainstream media that he harbored aspirations as a screenwriter, Caruana corrected the record today.

“That was news to me!” he said.

Switching to music, Caruana was asked if Carlsen is indeed the “Mozart of Chess,” what comparison would he give himself?

“My musical tastes are outside classical music,” Caruana said. “So I’d probably pick something in the hip-hop or rock genre.”

Fabiano Caruana

Caruana: Not Amadeus or Aaron Sorkin, but darn good at his day job. | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

Backing up to those pre-match interviews, Carlsen gave one of his more revealing and lengthy interviews ever on a Norwegian podcast (Tarjei Svensen transcribed it here). Alluding to one of the champion’s answers, Carlsen was asked by veteran reporter Leontxo Garcia if he has improved his temper since the 2016 match.

“Your question is very upsetting to me!” Carlsen joked without skipping a beat. Then he added, “At times I’ve been apathetic. It goes the other way. So I need to find some middle ground.”

Ilya Merenzon

World Chess CEO Ilya Merenzon said this was the best playing site he’d been a part of. Like in 2016, there will be a one-way glass partition where fans can watch but players can’t see them back. | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

Back in 2014, Caruana had just reeled off seven straight wins at the Sinquefield Cup and was due to have white against Carlsen. This reporter made the linguistic mistake of tepidly calling the world champion an “underdog” instead of asking if he felt like one. Today that same word “underdog” was broached by another reporter, but since it came in the interrogative form, Carlsen didn’t offer a similarly-strident response.

“It’s been a while since I’ve considered myself an underdog against anybody,” he said plainly, adding that with all of his accolades and superlatives in the chess world, something would be wrong with him psychologically if he did. 

However, any thought of unflinching confidence by the Norwegian was dispelled a few moments later when he said, “I know that if I play in the same vein as I have recently, then I will not win.”

For his part, Caruana said he’s seen the flaws in Carlsen’s play, but he cannot deduce any clear pattern. His research suggests that his opponent’s mistakes have been randomized incidents.


Across the street from the playing hall, it seems the city is hoping for some sharp openings! | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

What’s the pregame formula for success? Carlsen has done this extended match thing for a while and said simply: “Eat well, sleep well, prepare well, play well.”

Finally, the press conference ended with the most out-of-bounds question. Although it was enunciated clearly, the players needed it repeated to make sure they’d heard it correctly from the female reporter: “Are there any women supporting you in the match?”

Fabiano Caruana

Caruana is amused that on the precipice of the biggest chess event of his life, he’s being asked about his personal life. | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

FIDE Press Officer Danny King noted the ambiguity in the question, and decided to let the players answer as they saw fit.

Caruana said that yes, his mother is supporting him, and that many of those in his social circle are “female friends.” Carlsen’s love life has been more “on the record” than the American’s, and he went straight to that aspect of his life.

“I don’t think so,” he said about female support. “Women hate me; I repel them.”

Chess.com will have extensive coverage of the match, including daily reports on match days right here on Chess.com/news. You can catch all of the moves live at Chess.com/wcc2018 and watch Chess.com’s best-known commentators, IM Danny Rensch and GM Robert Hess, on either Twitch.tv/Chess or Chess.com/TV. Special guests, including GMs Hikaru Nakamura, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Wesley So, Sam Shankland and more will be joining the live coverage on different days. 

In addition, GM Alex Yermolinsky will be doing round-by-round wrap-up videos, available immediately after every round on all your favorite social platforms (Twitch, YouTube, Facebook and Chess.com). 

The current U.S. chess champion GM Sam Shankland will provide written, in-depth analysis of each game in our news reports.

GM Yasser Seirawan will share his thoughts on the match standings and inner workings of how the players are approaching each game with videos, exclusive to Chess.com members, on each rest day. 

Yasser Seirawan

Virat Kohli causes uproar with 'leave India' comment

Kia Oval, London, Britain - September 6, 2018 India"s Virat Kohli during nets

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Kohli’s remarks have sparked outrage on social media

India cricket captain Virat Kohli is embroiled in controversy after lashing out at a cricket fan who said he preferred English and Australian batsmen to Indian players.

“I don’t think you should live in India, go and live somewhere else,” Kohli told him in a video recording.

He was responding to messages during the launch of his mobile app on Monday.

The video went viral and prompted a torrent of criticism against Kohli on social media.

The 30-year-old cricketer has been hailed as one of the greatest batsmen in the world and is often touted as India’s cricket megastar since national legend Sachin Tendulkar retired in 2013.

  • Virat Kohli becomes the fastest batsman to reach 10,000 ODI runs

In the video, Kohli is seen reading out a message from a cricket fan who described him as an “over rated batsman”. He also said he enjoyed watching batsmen from English and Australian teams rather than the current Indian team.

“Why are you living in our country and loving other countries? I don’t mind you not liking me, but I don’t think you should live in our country and like other things,” Kohli said in his response. He added that the fan should get his “priorities straight”.

Social media users were quick to call out Kohli over his remarks – and many referred to past instances in which he had praised sportspeople of other nationalities.

Harsha Bhogle, a prominent cricket commentator and journalist, also weighed in on the controversy.

Some others mocked Kohli’s response.

This isn’t the first time Kohli has been in the spotlight for controversial statements.

In 2016, when India’s federal government cancelled 86% of the country’s currency, Kohli called it the “greatest move” he has ever encountered in politics.

The remark sparked criticism because the surprise decision had disrupted the lives of millions of Indians.

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Getty Images

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Kohli has been hailed as one of the greatest batsmen in the world

Writing about Kohli’s latest comments, Times of India journalist Dwaipayan Dutta wonders if the cricket captain is “losing perspective” off the field.

The statement, he writes, is “probably an extension of the nationalist narrative that modern India tries to propagate”.

Last month, Kohli became the fastest batsman to reach 10,000 one-day international runs in a match against West Indies.

He achieved the feat in his 205th innings and surpassed Tendulkar, who did it in 259 innings in 2001.

My View: Retreating to chess after a dauber drubbing – Buffalo News

By Robert P. Simpson

There is nothing like the game of bingo to demonstrate the superiority of the female mind. Sure, my wife and mom always invited me to go with them, but I always declined in favor of the more challenging game of chess. They just smiled when I told them I would rather play a difficult game like chess.

And then it happened …

My Wednesday chess club meeting was canceled. My wife felt sorry and invited me to join her and her mom for a fun evening of “daubing.”

It was a mind-numbing experience. There were 1,000 people packed into the church hall, each heavily armed with bingo supplies. I didn’t know there were bingo supplies. There was pizza and doughnuts and soft drinks and coffee. There were scoreboards like in a football stadium. There were numbered pingpong balls bouncing around like popcorn in a big fish aquarium. There was a grand knight of the Knights of Columbus announcing numbers into the public address system. There was excitement in the air.

My wife and her mom each bought nine cards for each game. I confidently handed the lady a $100 bill and asked for 20 cards for each game. My wife intervened and told her to give me only four.

Robert P. Simpson.

We took our seats and lined up our cards in front of us. I was in the middle between the two of them. Ellen had nine cards in front of her and her mom had nine in front of her. I had four lonely cards in front of me. It was sort of embarrassing.

My wife gave me a package of bingo daubers. I spent most of the evening trying to use the word “daub” in a sentence. Then I just started playing with the daubers. I was daubing everything I could – my bingo card, my forearm, a hot dog, a piece of pizza, and the forehead of a sweet old lady sitting across from me. I gave her the measles with my red dauber.

I spent the first 15 minutes figuring out which color dauber to use – there were so many choices. I devised a daubing system – I would use red for even numbers, blue for odd numbers. I would show them what a chess player could do.

I got so distracted by the daubers that I didn’t notice the grand knight announcing the numbers. The hall quieted down. His voice was soothing as he announced an unending sequence of letters and numbers: “B-13, G-55, O-70 … ”

I started to dream about how many possible combinations of letters and numbers there were on all the cards. Just as I figured out that there were 5.52×10e26 combinations, I was jolted by hands and daubers flying in front of my face from my right and my left. Blue, green, pink, yellow and red daubers, all the colors of the rainbow – flying in like jet planes with pinpoint accuracy to daub my cards. They daubed their own nine cards and all four of mine at the same time. All this time I was searching my cards for B-9. I couldn’t find it anywhere. My friend with the measles gently whispered – “Top left card, dear, first column, two numbers from the top!” She found it reading upside down.

By the third game, I got the hang of it. I was daubing like a veteran. I was holding pizza in my left hand, sipping a Coke through a straw, and daubing with my right hand at the same time. I was “On the Bubble” when the hallucination hit me. I got so excited I yelled, “Bingo!” with the confidence of a chess player delivering checkmate. Sighs of disappointment murmured through the hall as my family members looked over my cards.

It only took a few seconds for my wife to give me the, “I am sorry for the embarrassment you are about to experience” look. I had misdaubed. My wife apologized to the grand knight, “He was just practicing!”

I called an Uber and headed home. I dreamed that night about fianchettoing my bishop in the Sicilian defense. I would never play bingo again. That game was just too damn hard!

Robert P. Simpson, a Williamsville attorney, does not plan a return engagement to a bingo game anytime soon.