International Master, (IM) Arthur Ssegwanyi has opted out of the National championship final phase for the 2022 Olympiad qualifier despite making the grade from the previous grand prix circuit events.
Ssegwanyi had topped the 28-players list of two Junior champions and two wild card entries alongside top 12 men and 12 women selected from the final Grand Prix circuit table standings after the qualifier events held between December 2021 to February 2022.
The chess king from the sub Saharan region topped the standings having scored a combined 73 points from the Kireka Open (23 points) Rwabushenyi memorial Open (25 points) and the IM Norm (25 points) chess events.
However, East Africa’s finest abandoned the National championship final phase of the 2022 Olympiad qualifier held at Fairway Hotel in Kampala on Saturday.
According to Uganda Chess Federation (UCF) officials, Ssegwanyi (rating 2328) opted out due to fear to lose his ELO ratings/points from any possible defeats in the round robin competition of 13 rounds.
The development automatically sidelines him from Team Uganda’s squad that will be selected for the 2022 Olympiad that will take place in the country yet to be determined.
“He thought the rounds were many and he’s trying to protect his rating,” said an official from Uganda Chess Federation, adding, “if you don’t play the qualifiers, there is no way you can represent the country in the Olympiad.”
“This is the only qualification pathway to select the final team of 10 players for the Olympiad. So, Arthur might not play in the Olympiad and we cannot give him an automatic slot because the rules do not provide for that,” they added.
The development is a huge blow to UCF since Ssegwanyi’s experience will be greatly missed at such a bigger stage having featured at the previous World Cup and other international stages.
“You can’t opt out because you fear competition. Then why did he participate in the circuit events? It’s a blow to us but it encourages players who are upcoming and will get a chance to compete,” the UCF official further noted.
National team coach and Fide Master (FM) Harold Wanyama (rating 2301), who finished out of the top 12 from the Open section’s standings by three points, was hence selected to take up Ssegwanyi’s position in the super 14.
Meanwhile, Okas Walter got a wild card entry that was initially meant for FM Wanyama.
“We respected his decision and opted for another person who is close to the same ELO rating of 2200 and above.”
Ssegwanyi has previously featured at World Cup twice and IM tournaments. He now joins IM Elijah Emojong and Ivy Amoku as other household names to be missed at this year’s Olympiad.
Emojong has not been consistent with his commitment to chess while WFM Ivy Amoko, arguably East Africa’s best woman chess player, is sidelined due to work engagements in Sudan.
The ongoing final phase Olympiad qualifier will run until 20th March 2022 with 13 rounds to be played by the 14 players in every section.
At the climax, the top ten (5 men and 5 women) who will represent Uganda at the chess Olympiad will be selected.
The chess Olympiad is scheduled for 26th July to 8th August 2022 in either India or United States of America (USA) after Russia lost its status as hosts due to its invasion of Ukraine.
Final Tally – Open Section
- FM Harold Wanyama
- FM Nsubuga Haruna
- Kamoga Rajab
- Egesa Emmanuel
- Ssali Julius
- FM Kawuma Patrick
- Etoru Amos
- Ssonko Mathias Allan
- Musaasizi Emmanuel
- Wagodo Abdul Shakur
- Kawooya Joseph
- Mawanda Michael
Junior Champion – Ajiri Benjamin Netanyahu
Wild Card Entry -Okas Walter
- WCM Shakira Ampaire
- WFM Christine Namaganda
- Gorreti Angolikin
- Kawuma Patricia
- Nabachwa Allen Kyolaba
- Takali Milly
- Kabengano Joyce
- WFM Nansbuga Gloria
- Mugide Safina
- Nakabo Penina
- Nannozi Esther Penina
- Nabirye Caroline
Junior Champion – Hannah Zion Mawejje
Wild Card Entry – Nabaggala Vanessa