Home Individual Nakabo Peninah: The Africa Chess Queen of Uganda – The Concluding Part!

Nakabo Peninah: The Africa Chess Queen of Uganda – The Concluding Part!

by Ogunsiku Babatunde

Interview By: Paul Kafuko

Over the past two (2) weeks, we have looked at the success story and the journey of the young damsel, Nakabo Peninah, and we conclude with this special on her, which ends the series on the Ugandan gem.

Paul Kafuko goes up close and personal as he wraps up the interview…..

The Uganda Chess Federation has of late made it mandatory for the ladies to play with men in the open category of tournaments, what is your take on this?

Well, I second it 95%, this helps to strengthen the ladies even more, you can see the results. Once in a while though, I wish ladies could play alone to determine the crème de la crème, because we have a challenge of syndicate that comes with playing in the open section. So results are not always so reliable.

There have been allegations that letting men play women in the open category encourages cheating (commonly known as Syndicate), where men will definitely give the ladies points so long as they have sight on the prize money, how true or false is this?

That is so true, and I can attest to it. I also tried it once and it backfired on me when the guy changed his mind in the middle of the game. Amidst disappointment, I had a lesson to learn. It was my first and last time to try syndicate. I actually wish to thank that gentleman who betrayed me. He taught me a lesson that has contributed to my success in chess. “The Fighting Spirit!”

I wish to advise my fellow ladies to stop syndicate because it only pays for that moment. The prize money and prestige of finishing in a good position! But there is a lot more beautiful awards to a genuinely strong chess player.

What other achievements have you gained from chess apart from winning gold at the Africa Amateur and bronze in the world Amateurs?

My main aim for going for international tournaments was to get international experience which I am happy I achieved and hopefully still achieving. I have gotten the opportunity to play on electronic boards for the first time in my career. I have also made friends who have the potential and ability to develop and support my chess career.

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My chess curriculum vitae has also grown, thus opening doors for sponsorship opportunities.

What are your long and short term goals as a chess player? (Please state the short term goals and mention these tournaments)

I plan to participate and perform well in quite a number of rated international and local tournaments so that I can reach the ELO 2000 rating, on which I will base to claim my WFM title, which I attained from the Africa Amateurs tournament. My long term goal is to achieve the Woman Grand Master title with a rating above 2200 or at least an International Master title.

Note: not WIM but IM. I would like to be the highest rated black woman in the world.

What have been your best and worst moments playing chess?

My worst moment was when the Italian Embassy denied me visa to participate in the world Amateurs a day prior to my flight. Thank God they were considerate at the last minute.

My best moment was when the Uganda National Anthem was playing in Zambia at the Africa Amateurs because I won a gold medal for my country. It was beautiful and humbling.

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What challenges have you faced and how have you managed to overcome them?

It has not been a smooth defined journey. For starters, my father was not really into the chess game and we had a couple of misunderstandings over it. However, with persistence and determination, I made sure to show some achievements from the games I played, which were very promising. Today, he is my number one fan and sponsor.

Secondly, the challenges that come with travelling for international tournaments are quite ample especially sponsorship. While traveling to Zambia for the Africa Amateurs, by bus, for my first international tournament, the whole bus experience was a major challenge.

Denying me a schengen visa on the last day of traveling for the World Amateurs in Italy was really challenging. One that was so unexpected and so poorly timed! But the good Lord fights for his people…

Then there is the issue of choosing between work and chess! “Drop one or you lose both”, is a statement you would never want to hear from your bosses at work, especially when you want to chase a dream you have nurtured and worked on for years. And it is not just any dream, but a passion, a motivation, a joy, a dream blossoming. But well, sacrifices and gambits not only happen on the chess board, but also in real life.

A message to the upcoming chess players who aspire to emulate your achievements.

First of all they should never give up, stay focused, committed and determined. Good chess comes as a result of passion, hard work and practice, but most of all believing in yourself. Never forget your God; I can testify He is such a powerful and Miraculous God.

 What is your marital status Peninah?

My official marital status is single.

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Would you date a chess player, given the chance?

Hahaha, if I must date a chess player, he should be an International Master or above I don’t want a partzer for a boyfriend, lol, kidding, but not!

So it is IM Emojong Elijah and IM Segwanyi Arthur who qualify in the region, who would you go for?

Onjagaza ki naye? (literally meaning: what do you really want from me?)

Or you can handle both?

Am a one man kind of lady

Okay, tell us what kind of man appeals to you?

A Christian, responsible, mature and styled up gentleman. With a stable or promising financial status.

There are people who have contributed to your success in chess, feel free to mention and thank them.

Quite many. To mention but a few, I will start with Kafuko John Paul who together with Ntende Edgar and Kizito Mubiru have the biggest hand in this, they laid the foundation. My Parents and family; Kaddu Ivan, Were Bob, Mr. Mulwana and the entire Kireka Chess Club; Engineer Mwaka Emmanuel, Otim Isaac and entire Uganda Chess Fraternity; my coach IM Segwanyi Arthur and trainers FM Wanyama Harold, Sonko Mathias and Lubega Solomon; My fans especially Mugide Safinah and Masiko Ezekiel aka (Ikemat); Mr. Lewis Ncube and entire Africa Chess Confederation; Mr. Muramagi Nicholas, Mr. Katende, Ivan Mugowa, Charles and the entire National Council of Sports; Ministry of Education and Sports; Ambassador. Agiku and the entire Ministry of foreign affairs; Mr. Sajjabbi Robert, Michael Ndegwe, and staff of Suubiryo Financial Services.  Not to forget Mr. Sirgiovanni and Bussone of Stirling company. Also, Grace Kigeni, she does a great media work out there. Thank you and may God bless you all.

Any last word for your fans

Team Penny is the winning team, challenges do not put us down, they motivate us. We may fall but when we rise, we rise even higher. We are unstoppable, always a foot ahead and God above all. Thanks my fans for supporting me, you keep me motivated.



Masiko Ezekiel aka Ikemat, Chess Player.

“Nakabo is an aggressive chess player from the games I have had with her. She attacks till the position crumbles”.

FM Wanyama Harold, Trainer and Chess Player

“Penny is a talented and self-driven player, this will take her places. She is on the right track so far.”

WFM Angolikin Goretti, Chess Player

“She is promising and will bring better results especially for the nation”.

Namakau Cheleka, Zambian Chess Player

“Even though I just interacted with her for a few days, but I can still say… she is really focused. Determination in her is what makes her a good chess player.”

Ampaire Shakira, Chess Player

“Peninah Nakabo is my three year long Kireka Chess Club team mate and friend. We are always cheering for each other in every tournament. She is a great chess player who is very determined and zealous. I admire her tenacity and love for the chess game. She is one of our Ugandan golden stars.”

Mugide Safinah, Chess Player

“Penny is a kind hearted person. Her patience keeps her chess moving. I have much hope in her to keep the Ugandan flag high at her tender age. Inshallah”

IM Emojong Elijah, Chess Player

“Peninah Nakabo is very talented and confident. Her will power and hardwork is a sign for a greater future. From my side, I must say her rise ensures a powerful revolution in feminine chess in Africa. Continuous support will give her room for greater exploits.”

Sonko Mathias Allan, Trainer and Chess Player

“Penny is developing a new talent and style in ladies’ chess today. Her picturesque ability drives her creativity. She only needs a hand to guide her to her dream. Above all, her will to win is stronger than any other qualities. She is not afraid to lose. However she concentrates more on finding brilliance in every situation.”

Mr. Murwana, Kireka Chess Club patron

“Chess is a great strategic game, that requires intense critical thinking skills and some degree of patience. In my opinion, Peninah has these attributes and is destined for greater dominance on the international scene.”

Kaddu Ivan, Captain: Kireka Chess Club

” Penny’s demeanor, which is of a calm person is the exact opposite while on board where she is aggressive and fearless”

Ntende Edgar, Chess Player

“Penny is a result oriented person, in that she will move heaven and earth just to see that everything works out”

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Peninah Nakabo June 29, 2018 - 9:48 am

Nice stuff. Thanks Africa Chess Media

othims July 1, 2018 - 2:02 am

You are most welcome


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