Ugandan player Phiona Mutesi

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Clive Blackburn

Ugandan player Phiona Mutesi

Post by Clive Blackburn » Wed Mar 04, 2015 10:11 am

In today's Daily Mail, a really inspiring story about Phiona Mutesi, a Ugandan girl who succeeded in chess against all the odds. She came from an extremely impoverished background and only started going to chess classes because it meant that she would get a meal!

She had a natural ability for the game though and she is now a WCM. A new film has been made of her story, based on the book "Queen of Katwe".

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/ar ... odigy.html

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: Ugandan player Phiona Mutesi

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Mon Apr 11, 2016 4:15 pm

Adding a new link to this thread (there are a number of threads on the topic of Phiona Mutesi that could be merged if that was thought worth doing):

http://en.chessbase.com/post/chess-movi ... -announced

"Chess is on the rise, even in the world of motion pictures. Based on the true story of Phiona Mutesi, a starving Ugandan girl living in the streets who learned chess at age nine while looking for food handouts and became the Ugandan Open junior champion (defeating the boys) at age 16, Disney will be releasing a film on her later this year starring Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o."

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Matt Mackenzie
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Re: Ugandan player Phiona Mutesi

Post by Matt Mackenzie » Mon Apr 11, 2016 10:21 pm

She may now be a WCM (whatever that actually is) but it has been claimed her Elo rating is only in the 1600s.

A nice story, but let's not get carried away......
"Set up your attacks so that when the fire is out, it isn't out!" (H N Pillsbury)

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IM Jack Rudd
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Re: Ugandan player Phiona Mutesi

Post by IM Jack Rudd » Mon Apr 11, 2016 10:24 pm

Current rating 1622, which suggests her WCM title is the result of something like scoring 50% in an Olympiad.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Ugandan player Phiona Mutesi

Post by Roger de Coverly » Mon Apr 11, 2016 11:03 pm

IM Jack Rudd wrote:Current rating 1622, which suggests her WCM title is the result of something like scoring 50% in an Olympiad.
A title awarded based on results at the 2012 Olympiad.

https://ratings.fide.com/card.phtml?event=10000399

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Re: Ugandan player Phiona Mutesi

Post by PeterFarr » Mon Apr 11, 2016 11:10 pm

I think it's hard for serious chess players to be objective about this sort of thing; it's easy to groan inwardly at the hype, but then overlook the genuinely interesting story underneath.

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Re: Ugandan player Phiona Mutesi

Post by Roger de Coverly » Mon Apr 11, 2016 11:19 pm

PeterFarr wrote:I think it's hard for serious chess players to be objective about this sort of thing
FIDE has a long standing policy of awarding titles based on relative performance in its events. Perhaps with the extension of ratings down to 1000 they could reconsider. An Elo of 1600 is broadly equivalent to 125 on traditional conversions. A (male) British (Channel Islands) player achieved a CM title in an Olympiad whilst rarely escaping from the 120s in BCF/ECF grades.

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Re: Ugandan player Phiona Mutesi

Post by PeterFarr » Mon Apr 11, 2016 11:36 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:
PeterFarr wrote:I think it's hard for serious chess players to be objective about this sort of thing
FIDE has a long standing policy of awarding titles based on relative performance in its events. Perhaps with the extension of ratings down to 1000 they could reconsider. An Elo of 1600 is broadly equivalent to 125 on traditional conversions. A (male) British (Channel Islands) player achieved a CM title in an Olympiad whilst rarely escaping from the 120s in BCF/ECF grades.
Yes I realize she is not very strong, my point is that it's an interesting story given the overall context (non-chess reasons). Think of it as being about a girl escaping extreme poverty, rather than a story about the debasement of chess titles by FIDE.

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Re: Ugandan player Phiona Mutesi

Post by Roger de Coverly » Mon Apr 11, 2016 11:55 pm

PeterFarr wrote: Think of it as being about a girl escaping extreme poverty, rather than a story about the debasement of chess titles by FIDE.
That will be the angle and valid as well. If you check the top five female players in Uganda, she is at number 3, the other 4 having the "higher" WFM title.

http://ratings.fide.com/advaction.phtml ... &line=desc

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Re: Ugandan player Phiona Mutesi

Post by NickFaulks » Mon Apr 11, 2016 11:56 pm

PeterFarr wrote: Yes I realize she is not very strong, my point is that it's an interesting story given the overall context (non-chess reasons). Think of it as being about a girl escaping extreme poverty, rather than a story about the debasement of chess titles by FIDE.
I agree. One purpose of the (W)CM title is to honour players like this one. It's just a shame that it has been stretched so far that it has become a farce.

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Re: Ugandan player Phiona Mutesi

Post by Brian Towers » Tue Apr 12, 2016 12:44 am

I'm puzzled at the puzzlement. A FIDE rating of 1622 would put her at number 44 on the England FIDE women's list, just 9 places below WCM Dinah Norman, 1797

12 year old South African Heinrich Smuts (1161) is the lowest rated CM and 12 year old Algerian Manel Nasr (1015) the lowest rated WCM.
Ah, but I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now.

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Re: Ugandan player Phiona Mutesi

Post by Ian Thompson » Tue Apr 12, 2016 6:50 am

Brian Towers wrote:I'm puzzled at the puzzlement. A FIDE rating of 1622 would put her at number 44 on the England FIDE women's list, just 9 places below WCM Dinah Norman, 1797
Hardly a fair comparison. Dinah was one of the leading English female players in her prime, and, with a peak rating of at least 2085 (ratings only readily available as far back as 1991, so it might have been higher prior to that), easily worthy of the WCM title. I would imagine, if the title had been available 40 - 50 years ago, she'd be a WFM.

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Re: Ugandan player Phiona Mutesi

Post by Tim Harding » Wed Apr 13, 2016 10:53 pm

Ian Thompson wrote:
Brian Towers wrote:I'm puzzled at the puzzlement. A FIDE rating of 1622 would put her at number 44 on the England FIDE women's list, just 9 places below WCM Dinah Norman, 1797
Hardly a fair comparison. Dinah was one of the leading English female players in her prime, and, with a peak rating of at least 2085 (ratings only readily available as far back as 1991, so it might have been higher prior to that), easily worthy of the WCM title. I would imagine, if the title had been available 40 - 50 years ago, she'd be a WFM.
No doubt about that - from one who played against her (and drew) in one of Stewart Reuben's tournaments in the late 1960s. (She was then Dinah Wright, nee Dobson). With more opportunities even WIM would have been a reasonable aspiration.
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Re: Ugandan player Phiona Mutesi

Post by Gordon Cadden » Wed Apr 20, 2016 4:02 pm

Phiona Mutesi is certainly gathering publicity. Have just been reading an article in the Australian Readers Digest, on her achievements. That Uganda is sufficiently well organised that it can send a team to the Chess Olympiad, speaks volumes for the progress being made in Africa.

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Re: Ugandan player Phiona Mutesi

Post by NickFaulks » Thu Apr 21, 2016 12:30 pm

Uganda has sent a team to every Olympiad since 1980 except for Moscow 1994, when I seem to remember they had visa problems.

Bermuda met them in Yereven 1996, and on top board I played Willy Zabasajja, who had done a great deal to put Ugandan chess on the map after the disastrous Idi Amin period. I realised when reading this thread that I had heard nothing of him for many years - there can of course be many reasons for this, but in that part of the world you always fear the worst. A search reveals that he did indeed die prematurely.

http://www.thechessdrum.net/newsbriefs/ ... ganda.html.

It does at least seem that the good work he did for chess in East Africa lives on.

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