Fide Master Patrick Kawuma is just a point and half away from winning the inaugural Uganda Open Chess Championship.
Unlike his fellow top players, Kawuma refused to be bullied by the visitors. Kenya’s James Madol Pachol and South Sudan’s Candidate Master Rehan Cypriano Deng are the main reason International Master Arthur Ssegwanyi, FM Harold Wanyama and FM Haruna Nsubuga are in unfamiliar positions in the table.
The two subjected the pre-tournament favorites to damaging defeats, with the South Sudanese clobbering both Ssegwanyi and Nsubuga while the Kenyan humbled Wanyama.
The two have been enjoying a smooth ride since the event started three days ago, but they were made to suffer on Saturday as Kawuma restored the country’s pride.
The 27-year-old met both players on the same day and he came out top, beating Panchol in the fifth round before silencing Deng in the subsequent round.
And by doing so, remained the only player with a perfect score having won all his first six games. The FM now needs one win and a draw to win the championship and to march home with Shs1.5m as prize money.
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Kawuma’s teammate at Dmark Candidate Master Bob Bibasa is one of the two players standing his way. The two face off in the penultimate round on board one on Sunday.
Kawuma’s last opponent will be known after the seventh round. Faruk Fauza Kizza, Amos Etoru, IM Elijah Emojong, Ssegwanyi and Solomon Lubega- the player who ended Wanyama’s hopes of winning the event- are the likely opponents he’ll face.
Ssegwanyi won the contest between him and Woman Fide Master Ivy Clare and beat Kenya’s Ricky Sang, but still finds himself placed ten places behind the top five heading into the last two rounds.
Wanyama and Nsubuga are worse off though. The former lies 22nd while the latter is four places ahead.
It is Emojong who is closest to the rewarding positions. He sits seventh heading into the final two rounds and could finish in the top five if he outsmarts his remaining two opponents starting with veteran Shadrack Katinti who he faces in the penultimate round.
Ssegwanyi also has an opportunity of finishing in the top five if he win both his games on Sunday.
The top five positions are currently occupied by Etoru, Kizza, Deng, Bibasa and of course Kawuma.
In the ladies section, Amoko recovered from her loss to Ssegwanyi right on time to beat Aldrine Nsubuga in the sixth round. The top seeded female in East Africa leads the section with 3.5 points.
Hot on her heels are Shakira Ampaire, WFM Goretti Angolikin and Joyce Kabengano and Penninah Nakabo all with 3 points.