Rwanda: Siblings Munyurangabo, Uwase Crowned 2020 National Chess Champions

Rongin Munyurangabo, 20, and his 17-year-old sister, Woman FIDE Master (WFM), Joselyne Uwase, are the 2020 national chess champions in the open and ladies sections, respectively.

This comes after they, each, refused to be intimidated in this year’s national chess championship which ended on Sunday, December 13, at the Kigali Public Library.

Over the past two consecutive weekends, Munyurangabo – who proved to be a force to reckon with during last year’s event – only lost once, drew twice and won five times to emerge top in the open section. He tied with Eugene Kagabo Mugema and Valentin Rukimbira, on 6 points. But he had a tie-break advantage, having trounced each of them earlier.

Last year, Munyurangabo proved he had the ability to brawl with tougher opponents when he emerged second, narrowly missing out on the national championship title.

In the ladies’ section, five rounds were played in a single round-robin system. WFM Uwase won all her games to wrestle the crown from Sandrine Uwase, 18. The latter retained the title for a record third year in a row, last year. But she did not look self-assured this time as she easily bowed to pressure from better-prepared opponents.

Rongin Munyurangabo is the new male national chess champion.

The former national champion enjoyed a good start when she tamed Faustine Shimwa in round 1 a week ago. But lady luck didn’t smile when she met 14-year-old Happiness Mutete in round 3 on Saturday, December 12. After losing to Mutete, all she had to do was calm down and win her remaining two rounds but it was not to be.

At the start of their final round 5, things looked complicated since any of the three leading ladies had a chance of grabbing the title. But Mutete lost quickly and it was the match between the two Uwases to determine who became champion.

Then, just over two hours, WFM Uwase triumphed and the girls shook hands.

“I am so happy. It was a hard game but I made it,” a relieved Uwase told The New Times moments after her last game.

Two years ago, Uwase made Rwanda proud during the 43rd Chess Olympiad in Batumi, Georgia, when the World Chess Federation (FIDE) confirmed her title – the highest chess rank by any Rwandan, so far.

Munyurangabo is eager to follow in his younger sister’s footsteps this year if he makes the national team for the first time.

“I won’t stop training. I know that I just can’t rest as if this is the end. This is just where the tough work begins,” Munyurangabo said.

The siblings plan to make it into the national team next year and book tickets to the Russian city of Khanty-Mansiysk where the 44th Chess Olympiad will be played.

The Olympiad is a biennial chess tournament bringing together teams from all over the world.

jkaruhanga@newtimesrwanda.com

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