In the last decade, several young kids have come through the ranks and built a name for themselves in the Chess Industry. However, almost none has come close to the rapid rise of the 2022-2023 Nigeria National Under 14 Chess Champion, Nwankwo Victor Chibuikem.
A native of Abia state in Nigeria, Chibuikem (meaning: God is My Strength) was born on the 25th of November, 2011, at the cool area of Lagos (Gbagada). Delivered into a family of super achievers, Chibuikem grew to know excellence as a culture that must be imbibed in everything he does.
The parents had always known about the game of chess and the attributes contained therein. Little wonder they had chess boards for the kids before the kids understood fully what they held and played with.
However, the chess journey for the kids fully started in the month of, July 2019.
After losing various chessboards and chess pieces, the parents made a chessboard from a cardboard found in their home, and gathered the chess pieces around the house, to have their very first set of training with the kids.
Unlike knowledgeable chess parents, they had to consult Google to find out “how to set up the chess pieces and how to play the game of chess”. This did not help as much as the parents would have liked, thus, the summer starting August, of the same year, the parents enrolled Chibuikem and his siblings at the Pedachess Academy for proper training.
The year 2020 strolled in, and COVID-19 struck, the lockdown was enacted and online training was the way to go. The parents used the period to engage the services of one of the best chess trainers in the country, Fide Master Akintoye A. Abdulrahman (also known as Triple A), who is the founder of Moving Train Chess Academy, and they have continued ever since.
Over the period, Chibuikem has trained a minimum of three (3) hours on a daily basis without fail, and continued to improve on his games.
At school, Chibuikem is one of the very best kids in his class. He loves studying patterns, he is courageous, he has a good analytical mind, intelligent, and confident in his ability to deliver on a consistent basis.
Chibuikem loves musical instruments, almost as much as he loves chess, and plays both the Piano and the Saxophone to good repute.
His prowess with the instruments led him to take an examination, with which he obtained distinctions at the MUSON Centre in Lagos. He is currently taking up lessons on French as a 3rd language, besides English and his Igbo language.
With a series of losses and better understanding (with consistent training) of the game of chess under his belt, Chibuikem’s tournament victories started just over a year ago.
Having recorded a good victory at the September edition of the Ikorodu Oga Development Association (IKODASS) Under 16 Youth Championship Games (Chess), and finishing joint first, it was time to march forward to the National stage.
The 2021 Nigeria National Chess Championships kicked off with the Juniors, who played in three (3) different categories (Under 10, Under 14, and Under 20). It was his last opportunity to claim the Under 10 trophy, and he did it in style.
Delivering blows after blows, Chibuikem defeated every single kid that sat before him, claiming the under 10 championship trophy and gold medal, with an impressive perfect score of 6/6 points.
Towards the end of the year, 2021, he participated in the 2nd edition of the Ikorodu Oga Development Association (IKODASS) Under 16 Youth Chess Championship, where he finished the tournament as the undisputed best player of the under-12 category, going home with yet another gold medal and prizes.
Choosing to play in the under-14 section of the 2021 Danhypro Junior Chess Championships Grand Finale, Chibuikem battled with some of the very best young players in the category. At the end, he claimed a 3rd place finish ahead of some notable young chess prodigies in the country.
Chibuikem started the year 2022 with his participation at the May edition of the Orchid-Lekki Chess Club’s under-13 Children’s tournament. A tournament where his rivalry with 12-year-old Li Mo began afresh.
The tussle for who tops the other was fierce, with Li taking one over Chibuikem. At the end, Chibuikem finished 2nd behind him at the tournament.
When the July edition of the same tournament ensued, Chibuikem knew exactly what he needed to do, and he delivered with aplomb. He did not allow Li attain victory, which led him on his way to 1st place (on tiebreaks) at the tournament.
September ushered in the Smashing Gambit Chess Tournament for young players under the age of twenty (20), having three (3) categories (U10, U14, and U20). Participating in the U14 section of the tournament taught Chibuikem the lesson that, there are people who do not mind what they have to do in other to win (a lesson the player’s coach must have passed across).
At the end of the tournament, Chibuikem fell short of the top prize by half a point. He had to settle for the silver medal, after finishing joint 2nd & 3rd half a point behind the winner.
Coming back to the Nigeria National Chess Championships, 2022, he left the under-10 section to his younger sister, who battled with Henry for the U10 championship, and finished in joint 2nd place.
Meanwhile, he moved up to battle for the crown of the under-14 championship, battling against gems like Ekunke Goodness and Quickpen Deborah, who represent Bayelsa state, Li Mo and Everestus Joy, whose parents are doing the needful for the development of their kids.
Only failing to convert against Everestus Joy, a brilliant young girl, Chibuikem defeated every other player that came before him. Defeating the Chinese maestro, Li Mo, who defeated Everestus Joy. Meanwhile, Joy defeated both Ekunke Goodness and Quickpen Deborah.
Having finished with 5.5/6 points, half a point ahead of Ekunke Goodness, Chibuikem was crowned the new Under-14 Chess Champion at the National Chess Championships, 2022-2023.
The rapid rise of Chibuikem puts on his shoulders, the dream and aspirations of becoming a National Champion, a Grandmaster, and World Champion.
One fact remains, no single individual can do it alone. He has shown prodigious promise and will now need the support of everyone to get him to the future we want to see him attain.
Ask about him today!