Fide Master Patrick Kawuma’s dominance in the Uganda Open Chess Championship left many amazed.
Not that he was expected to waver; no, of course not. He was in fact one of the favorites to win the competition prior the start so it’s not that anyone doubted his strength and ability.
But the manner in which he won the championship, in an event that saw every top player whipped is what left many stunned.
The 28-year-old dominated the inaugural edition from start to finish, thrashing everyone that came his way.
While his fellow top players were struggling to see off their opponents , Kawuma was busy downing his challengers one after one.
The FM eased past his first four opponents and his real test was expected to come in the fifth and sixth round, with Kenya’s James Madol Panchol and South Sudan’s Candidate Master Rehan Cypriano Deng presenting opposition.
Deng had outwitted both International Master Arthur Ssegwanyi and FM Haruna Nsubuga in the earlier rounds and Panchol had beaten FM Harold Wanyama so you understand why the two were seen as tough opponents and expected to upset Kawuma.
That didn’t happen though as the Olympian dispatched the two in style on the same day.
Kawuma approached his final two rounds needing a victory and a draw to seal the championship. He won both games, with CM Bob Bibasa- his teammate at Dmark in the National Chess League- being his victim in the penultimate round.
The rated 2311 crowned the event perfectly, triumphing over Rajab Kamoga in the final round to win the Open immaculately and march home with Shs1.5m as prize money.
Deng deservedly took the second spot. In a game that lasted for over five hours, the South Sudanese versed IM Elijah Emojong. There was a lot at stake in this contest with the winner taking the second position and walking home with Shs1m, and the CM outsmarted the Ugandan IM.
Three other boards were filled with players hoping to finish second had the two drawn, but with Ssegwanyi sharing spoils with Allan Mathias Ssonko Deng finished clear second.
Uganda Chess Federation President Emmanuel Mwaka tied third with Solomon Lubega, but Mwaka took home the bronze medal on a tie-break. Mwaka had to beat former national team coach Bibasa and Lubega had to see off Amos Etoru.
The final standing had Emojong in position 9 with 5.5 points, Wanyama eighth with 6 points and Ssegwanyi seventh with the same. This was far from what anyone expected, and disappointing from the top guys.
Panchol came sixth, Sonko fifth and Lubega finished fourth. Nsubuga disappointingly finished outside the top 40. He came 41st.
In the ladies section, Shakira Ampaire won the category. Ampaire’s rise to the top saw her register five wins out of eight games, all victories coming against men.
Ampaire headed into the final round level on points with her Kireka B teammate Penninah Nakabo, and hot on the heels were WFM Ivy Clare Amoko and WFM Christine Namaganda both with 3.5 points.
To win the event, Ampaire had to beat Caxton Kalule and pray Nakabo losses her game. That’s exactly what happened and the rated 1448 emerged champion and pocketed Shs750,000 as prize money.
Amoko beat Namaganda, but the title was out of her hands and she settled for a second place. Nakabo tied points  with WFM Goretti Angolikin and Kenya’s Rebecca Obonyo, but completed the podium positions on a tie-break.
Veteran and former Olympian Joseph Kaamu won the 60 years above category. He collected four points from eight games.
In the U1600, a category that was unrated, Jimmy Sserwadda tied points  with Johnson Mugyenyi and Huzaifa Junju, but won the section with a favorable tie-break.
Victor Kanyike, brother to WCM Maria Nakanyike was champion in the U-18 category. He posted 6.5 points and in the U-12 section, Edwin Pido took home the gold medal.
Esther Belinda Nakyanzi won the girls’ U-14 category with 5.5 points and Brendah Kyaterekera was winner in the U12 category, girls.