Just like in the Bible, when Daniel was thrown into the Lion’s den and came out unscathed, Nakabo Peninah with ELO 1491 FIDE rating from Uganda entered into the den of the Zambians and was untouchable on her way to victory at the African Amateur Individual Chess Championship. She voluntarily went to Zambia, precisely New Fairmount Hotel, Livingstone for African Amateur Individual Chess Championship and won the tournament with a round to spare.
Nakabo Peninah was born on the 3rd of September 1992 in Mukono, Uganda and presently resides in Kampala. She holds a B.Sc. in Business Statistics from the Makere University in 2017 and presently works at Ssuubiryo Financial Services (who are so proud of her achievement at the tournament as seen in their YouTube video below).
Her first contact with chess was in December 2013, and was taught by Kafuko John Paul and Ntende Edgar. Her biggest inspiration amongst notable chess players was and continue to be GM Judith Polgar. When asked why, she replied “Because she’s the evidence that all women have in terms of what it takes to be among the top 100 chess players in the world, if dedicated.”
Her experience travelling to the African Amateur Individual Chess Championship was superb but not without its challenges. Just imagine a player going a distance of 5000km (from Kampala, Uganda to Livingstone in Zambia by bus) to play in a tournament; to win such a tournament is not a small feat and it is deserving of a hero’s welcome and recognition. The more hectic the journey got, the more zeal she had to win the African Amateur Individual Chess Championship. She was determined and perfectly fearless, taking up the challenge with bold conviction.
She didn’t believe she had any tough opponents in the tournament, but she particularly enjoyed the games she played against Ndachipiwa Kgomotso of Botswana (who was the second foreigner in Zambia for the tournament) in round 4 and against Mwilola Phylis of Zambia in round 6, which she both lost and won respectively.
Her short term aspiration in chess is to be on Uganda’s National Olympiad team going to Georgia this year, while on the long run she wants to be the highest rated female chess player in the world with at least a Women Grandmaster Title. WGM Mona, Khaled is currently the highest rated female chess player on the continent, but Peninah wishes to overtake her and become the first female player to achieve the title of Grandmaster without the W behind it!
In the words of the one of the best players in Uganda in person of FM Harold Wanyama, when asked about her, he said; “Peninah is a talented, confident player who is not afraid to even tussle against men. I believe she will achieve much more than this and I am hoping to see her qualify for the Olympiad. She has the ingredients to be a champion”.
The tournament pairings and results can be found here.