Patrick Kawuma
Patrick Kawuma (R) and Harold Wanyama

A few months ago, South African chess player Bruce Mubayiwa came up with an intriguing idea of organizing online chess events for African chess players.

It was a challenging thought as there were and still no sponsors on board, but against all odds, the idea was implemented and the tourneys have since been running daily on Lichess platform.

Seeing how huge a number of players showed interest and took part in the events, the ingenious Mubayiwa took the competition to another level. He came up with another A1 idea, and that was forming the Africa Online Chess League.

The league has been running for a month now, and six countries viz. Uganda, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Nigeria and Namibia are taking part.

Albeit with no sponsorship for the ongoing events, it has become inevitable for Mubayiwa to come up with fresh concepts each passing day. Just last week, he made known of his intention to form the Africa Online Chess Cup. It was an idea that was unanimously welcomed by players and although the exact date for this cup is yet to be set, the last week of November 2018 was chosen as the period.

In the related development, Uganda won the hosting rights after UCF Publicity Secretary David Muwanguzi made a convincing case for the country. Initially, Tanzania had been identified as the host nation but after fully being convinced by what Muwanguzi said; Uganda had to be awarded the hosting rights.

Why this cup?

Mubayiwa says they were driven by the need for players to interact face to face.

“The thing with Lichess events and games is, we play online and never get a chance to meet,” Mubayiwa stated. “So we thought why not a competition where people actually get to meet in person? Because at the end of the day, in chess and other things, nothing beats face to face interaction,” he added.

While the format of qualification is yet to be known, a number of players each country must present has been decided on.

“We started having discussions about how such a competition would work and what we thought was that every country needs to have two or four players to qualify for this cup. We thought every country present their top female and male players and we meet somewhere.”

An easily accessible country for players was the focal point of discussion.

“The one thing that we had in mind with this competition was that we wanted to have it in a place that was more central and easier to access for all the countries. Central Africa maybe would have been the best, but in our discussions, Tanzania was one country that came up.

“We thought Tanzania would be a good country, however, during the course of our discussions; David [Muwanguzi] made a spirited campaign for Uganda. He spoke about how easily accessible Uganda is and all the advantages of having such a competition in Uganda so we said Uganda its.

“I think it’ll be exciting. Personally that’s one part of the continent I’ve never been to. It will really be exciting to finally come to Uganda. We’ve got Harold [Wanyama] who is one of the dominant players in our Lichess tournaments so what a way to come and finally meet him through a chess event that is hosted by Uganda.”

Sponsorship still remains a requisite for this one of a kind event to happen, but it is yet to be secured.

“Obviously because it’s early days, a lot of things aren’t in place. One of the big things is obviously sponsorship and things like that. We still have to work out on how that will happen. We would like everyone to fly to the venue but in case that is not possible, we are thinking a backup plan would be people playing from their countries, but under a controlled environment like supervising all games because there will be quite a lot at stake.”

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