Interview: Elijah Emojong on His Rising Star in Ugandan Chess Circles

We’ve all heard of Elijah Emojong, Uganda’s rapidly improving FIDE Master who is eyeing East Africa’s first IM title by the end of 2012. He is also known for his wild and humorous quotes.

Elijah with a trophy
Elijah with a trophy

In order to get to know the man behind the title a little better, we conducted a quick interview with him on his rising star in Ugandan chess circles.

You’ve had a busy year travelling to Sudan, Mozambique and then India for various international tournaments. Will you be making any more international appearances during the remainder of 2011?

Yes, I hope to participate in two more connected internal tournaments in India (Delhi and Chennai) in December. I have already received invitations to participate in both.

Elijah Emojong at Entebbe Airport before departing for Khartoum in May 2011
Elijah Emojong at Entebbe Airport before departing for Khartoum in May 2011

Tell us a little about your experiences in Khartoum, Maputo, Chennai and Mumbai.

I will only talk about chess experiences, I will not talk about anything outside chess. Throughout all these tournaments, I have learnt the following:

a. Patience, concentration, focus and composure are key factors during a chess game.

b. Need for thorough preparation, especially the openings. This helps one build his confidence before the game and also saves time that could have been spent calculating complex variations.

How do you prepare for international tournaments? Do you have some sort of routine that you follow religiously to ensure maximum preparation?

I do not have a strict daily routine, but I do personal research on my computer when doing my normal practice on a few specific days.

Elijah training in his hotel room
Elijah training in his hotel room

When arriving in a new country, how do you deal with the fact that you are in a new place with a different culture from back home so that it doesn’t negatively affect your games?

It used to be a bit difficult for me. For instance, when I went to South Africa in 2010, the organisation was a bit advanced and strict. It was my first international tournament and I missed a crucial round in the middle of the tournament because I failed to get to the playing spot on time. Apparently from the experience that I have, I can now easily cope with any environment.

Participation in international tournaments requires access to a lot of resources. How have you managed to fund your trips? Has it been easy to find a sponsor?

It has been difficult and actually I have not got a sponsor up till now! Most of the sponsors out there don’t have any interest in chess.

Elijah Emojong at the 2011 Africa Individual Chess Championship in Maputo, Mozambique
Elijah Emojong at the 2011 Africa Individual Chess Championship in Maputo, Mozambique

Based on what you have seen abroad, what do you think is the one reason that the East African Community as a whole is lagging behind in terms of FIDE rankings and overall chess development? What can we do about it as a regional bloc?

There is a need to develop the game of chess starting with schools and clubs and improving on its publicity. This will help develop interest amongst individuals across the whole of eastern Africa and will increase competition thus encouraging more sponsors towards the game of chess.

Thank you for taking the time out from your busy schedule for this interview. Any last words for our readers?


(Photo credits: Courtesy)

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