Shakira Ampaire all set for the Zonal Championships

Shakira Ampaire

Kireka Chess Club player Shakira Ampaire has declared herself ‘ready’ for the forthcoming Zone 4.2 African Individual Chess Championships that commence thirteen days from now at the Central Hotel, Jimma – Ethiopia.

Ampaire, a league winner with Kireka last season secured her ticket to this year’s edition last month following her fourth-place finish at the Zonal Qualifiers.

In an interview with Kawowo Sports, Ampaire said: “I’m ready for this. I have been preparing for this mentally and training wise since last year.

“But that doesn’t mean I have stopped training. When you are preparing for tournaments like this, you prepare as much as you can. Sometimes you feel you want to do more and more that’s why even Grand Masters prepare every day and before every game no matter how good they are. You can’t prepare enough to be comfortable.”

The 26-year-old says she uses video tutorials from International Chess Coaches and Grand Masters to analyse different strategic moves and also chess puzzles for her training.

And like any competitive mind, Ampaire who was MVP National University Sports Federation Uganda [NUSFU] in 2013 has her targets in Ethiopia set already.

She said: “The target is to increase my rating and at a minimum, acquire a Woman Fide Master title. Victory for me in Ethiopia would be acquiring that title or more.”

Who gets awarded at the Zonal Championships?

At the Zonal Championships, one must emerge champion in the Open category to earn the International Master [IM] or in the Women category to earn the Woman International Master [WIM] title.

For the FM or WFM title, the player must garner at least six points from nine games, and the Candidate Master [CM] or Woman Candidate Master [WCM] title goes to that player who collects at least 4.5 points.

Ampaire’s performance at continental level

Last year in July at the African Individual Chess Championships held here in Kampala, Ampaire finished 20th with 3.5 points. The rated 1423 managed just a couple of victories, drew thrice and lost as many games.

That was after she had missed an opportunity to attain the CM title following her ninth-place finish with 4 points at the Zonal Championships held in Dar es Salaam in April.

Asked whether she has improved since then, Ampaire said “Yes! So much. I played with stronger players and got to learn from most of my mistakes so I have improved my game. I like to think of myself as a winner because I always come back up each time I ‘am defeated and try to better myself.

“After my game with the Angolan WIM (Domingos Maria M who she lost to in the final round at the Individuals) she showed me my blunder and how I was so close to drawing the game against her. So that showed me that I should believe in myself more and not worry about my lower rating when playing against the stronger players because they are also beatable.

“Last year, I missed getting the title by ½ a point in the Zonals. That’s why I want to do better this time around.”

How she fared against stronger opponents at the African Individuals.

Ampaire drew against the South African duo of WCM Fisher Michelle M with a higher rating of 1696 and Van Niekerk Robyn Julian rated 1670, and claimed victory over Kenyan WCM Joyce Nyaruai [1563].

She lost to the Angolan WIM Domingos Maria M [1711], WFMs Goretti Angolikin [1605] and Christine Namaganda [1587] –her fellow Ugandans.