Shakira Ampaire has attributed her success at the just concluded Uganda Open Chess Championships to dedication and hard work.
Ampaire emerged the unexpected winner in the women’s section with five points, beating pre-tournament favorites WFM Ivy Clare Amoko, WFM Goretti Angolikin and WFM Christine Namaganda to the gong.
The 26-year-old’s road to triumph saw her outwit among others Burundi’s three time champion Wilfred Ntamatungiro and Fred Migabo, last season’s silver medalist on board two in the National Chess League.
“I trained for this tournament since UCF announced it and I have also been playing chess on a daily basis on my phone plus a few times on chess.com,” said the exultant Ampaire.
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“I always train for tournaments but what I did different this time is I spent more time training in endgame which I never used to do. I also prayed so hard and asked all my friends to send me lots of prayers and wish me good luck because I needed it.”
One of Ampaire’s memorable games at the tourney was her fourth round. Migabo was the opponent and the Mighty Bishop’s player squeezed the hell out of her prompting her to ask for a draw.
Migabo laughed off the offer, but to her shock, Ampaire managed to turn the tables around and at the end of it won the contest. It was shocking to not only Migabo but the spectators as well. Ampaire’s never giving up attitude and the willingness to succeed had helped her jump the hurdle
“For me this is validation for all the hard work I’ve put in chess this year. I always looked up to the veterans like Ivy [Amoko] and Christine [Namaganda]. I wanted to win like them one day.
“So for me this means anyone can achieve anything they want in life as long as they work hard and don’t give up.”
For a player that had never won a major tourney, hardly a soul expected her to walk away as a champion. Ampaire’s fifth and sixth round were a dismaying to her. The rated 1448 lost both the two rounds, and chances of winning the championship were minimal.
She however, never gave up the chase for her dream.
“I never expected to win this but I had hope. It was tough and very emotional for me. Day 3 I lost both games and was very discouraged but on the last day, I came back stronger and ready to just play my best.
“And that’s where faith and tenacity comes. I never gave up.”
Ampaire beat both Ntamatungiro and Caxton Kalule on the final day to win the event.