Rwanda: Chess - Rwanda Readies for Online Olympiad

After the International Chess Federation (FIDE) recently announced a new major competition - the Online Olympiad 2020 - to be held from July 22 to August 30, the local chess federation hastened to form a team that will represent Rwanda.

Soon after the world chess governing body made the announcement, a week ago, the Rwanda Chess Federation (Ferwade) first took time pondering its next move.

Ben Tom Zimurinda, the acting federation president on Thursday, July 9, told Times Sport that "so far, preparations of the national team are at 60 percent."

Monday, July 13, is the deadline for participating countries to submit players' names to the organisers.

The FIDE Online Olympiad 2020 will be the first of its kind.

Obviously, Zimurinda acknowledged, "There are challenges this being the first time in the history of chess tournaments to be hosted online, and not only on our side, but globally too."

"Bringing together all players and coordination is a big challenge. But we are confident that it will go well."

"Secondly, we are focusing on young players, and we know their low financial capacity when it comes to preparations. This implies that we are to look for a budget."

Despite the challenges, he said, they expect a good performance.

The new event comes after the main 2020 Chess Olympiad, a biannual event earlier scheduled for August 5-17, was moved to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Like the regular, biannual event, the Online Olympiad is a competition for teams that represent their national chess federations.

For the online version, however, FIDE decided to have more control over the team line-ups. It wants to make sure that at least half of the team is female and that junior players are included.

Rwanda's tentative team list comprises 12 players. Only four are aged 20 or above, with the country's leading women players, Woman FIDE Master (WFM) Joselyne Uwase, and three-time women national champion, Sandrine Uwase, are teenagers.

However, the new tournament will not be on the calibre of an Olympiad since it will not feature the best possible teams as FIDE pushed for diversity.

"Regarding this diversity, we are impressed. It is a wakeup call even though it was already our main objective to increase the number of ladies and younger chess players at large," Zimurinda said.

Teams may have up to six reserves, plus a team captain.

Time control for this event will be 15 minutes + 5 seconds increment per move, almost twice as fast as in the FIDE Online Nations Cup.

The event will consist of two main stages: a division stage and a playoff stage. There will be five divisions. A combination of qualification and seedings will eventually determine what the top division will look like.

The top division will consist of five seeded teams, five nominated teams, and 15 teams that qualified from the second division. Divided into four pools, the top three teams of each pool qualify for the playoff stage.

Proposed team list

Open:

1. Maranatha Nduwayesu 2. Joseph Nzabanita 3. Rongin Munyurangabo (reserve) 4. Methode Twizeyimana (reserve)

Under-20:

1. Ian Murara Urwintwari 2. Ben Patrick Cyubahiro

Women:

1. WFM Joselyne Uwase 2. Marie Faustine Shimwa 3. WCM Christelle Uwamahoro (reserve) 4. Anna Ngarambe (reserve)

Under-20 (women):

1. Sandrine Uwase 2. Ignacia Nzambazamaria

Captain: Alain Niyibizi

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