Uganda’s International Master (I.M) Arthur Ssegwanyi pawned off the on-going world chess cup in bullish mood when he held Dutch Grand Master (G.M), Anish Giri in a 6 hours and 10 minutes battle of the first round of action at Baku in Azerbaijan.
The Ugandan, rated 2357 built upon a false start in the opening lines against the much fancied Grandmaster rated 2793 by the global chess body, FIDE.
Ssegwanyi, a 27 year old Ugandan Pharmacist was pitted against the 21 year old Grand Master as he lost a Pawn for no compensation.
At some stage in the game, the GM oozed with confidence and must have felt he was in for a field day against an opponent rated 400 points lower than him.
On the contrary, Ssegwanyi had clearly different ideas and as the game dragged on, his fighting spirit became unrelenting enabling him to play an excellent middle and endgame that culminated into a hard fought draw after 158 moves.
Ssegwanyi is making his debut appearence at the World Cup, a slot he attained after winning the Zone 4.2 Africa Chess Championship that was held in Kampala for the first time in April 2015.
He is also the first East African to play in such a high level event that attracts the world’s biggest stars.
His opponent, Giri, is ranked sixth in world rankings and is ranked fourth at the ongoing World Cup while Ssegwanyi’s rank is 125th out of 128 participants.
The World Cup is played on a knock out basis and players are scheduled to face off in two consecutive games whose winner proceeds to the next round.
Ssegwanyi, who had the white pieces in the first game is now scheduled to play with Black pieces in the second game against Giri due to be played later today.
In case of a draw after the two encounters, the player to proceed to the next round would be determined by a blitz match.
A total of 1.6 million US Dollars is up for grabs for the winners.
Ssegwanyi has over the years developed a fighting spirit following his exploits at the last two World Chess Olympiads in Istanbul, Turkey and Tromso, Norway, and at the 2012 World Cities Chess Championship in Al Ain, UAE.
The experience meant that prior to the World Cup, Ssegwanyi had battled against at least eight Grandmasters.
This must have given him confidence to take on Giri without fear.
In the second and decisive game, Ssegwanyi may have to draw inspiration from fellow Ugandans like FM Stephen Kawuma, IM Elijah Emojong and FM Raphael Buti who have previously downed Grandmasters. Kawuma beat Argentina’s GM Diego Valerga with a Kings Indian Defense at the 39th World Chess Olympiad in Khanty Mansisyk, Russia in 2010, Emojong beat Latvian GM Starostits at the Istanbul Olympiad in 2012 and Buti beat Egypt’s GM Elgendy Essam at the Zone 4.2 Africa Chess Championship in April, 2015.
Previously, Grace Nsubuga had drawn with GM Evgni Sheshniikov of Latvia in 2004 and Emmanuel Kabuye drew with GM Eugene Torre of Philippines in 1988. Uganda Chess Federation is highly grateful to Turkish Airlines, which provided Ssegwanyi’s return ticket to the World Cup.
Additional Report by Uganda Chess Federation