After much searching on the internet for information on Rwandan chess events, I finally managed to get in touch with the treasurer of the Rwandan Chess Federation (FERWADE), Mr. Alain Patience Niyibizi.

He was kind enough to accept my request for an email interview with him for you – readers, fans and supporters of Chess Events EAC:

Paras: We don’t hear much about chess events in Rwanda. What is the overall chess scene like there?

Alain: Well, chess in Rwanda is not popular like in the other countries of East Africa (Kenya and Uganda) but still we conduct our internal tournaments (inter-club, individual and open games) every year and we publish them on our local radio and newspapers.

Alain (third from left) with his Rwandan team mates at the Chess Olympiad 2010

Alain (third from left) with his Rwandan team mates at the Chess Olympiad 2010

Paras: You happen to be the treasurer of the Rwandan chess federation. Tell us a little about how FERWADE operates. Are the entire year’s activities planned in advance? Do the officials meet regularly to measure progress on these activities? How often do you have elections?

Alain: We plan the year’s activities each season but most of the time we have lack of funds to implement what we have planned. Elections happen every four years.

FERWADE Treasurer Alain Niyibizi with Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov at the Chess Olympiad 2010 in Khanty Mansiysk, Russia

FERWADE Treasurer Alain Niyibizi with Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov at the Chess Olympiad 2010 in Khanty Mansiysk, Russia

Paras: What are the next few major events on the Rwandan chess calendar for 2011?

Alain: Recently (July) we had an individuals tournament, now we are focusing on working closely with the School Sports Federation to bring chess activities into as many schools as possible. At the end of the year we will have individual games resulting in the national champion 2011.

Alain preparing himself for a tough battle against his Sierra Leonean opponent at the Chess Olympiad 2010

Alain preparing himself for a tough battle against his Sierra Leonean opponent at the Chess Olympiad 2010

Paras: How popular is chess in Rwanda? Is it easy to get funding/support from the Ministry of Sports for organising national tournaments and to send teams abroad for international events?

Alain: I can say that chess is not so popular in Rwanda like all other sports (soccer, volley ball, basket ball, cycling, athletics, golf…) but people are really aware of chess game and they like it.

It has now been 6 years without any funds from our Ministry because they give only priority to 6 disciplines (said above) and up to now for international events, we have managed ourselves.

Paras: How many active chess clubs do you have in Rwanda? Are most of them in the capital Kigali or are they spread across the country? What is FERWADE doing to encourage the mushrooming of more chess clubs?

Alain: We have about 8 clubs in Rwanda and 6 of them are active. Five clubs are located in Kigali. FERWADE is willing to found more clubs in secondary schools and colleges. Every player has the willingness to found a club near where he stays, and if done well we shall have many more clubs.

Paras: What do you feel are the challenges affecting the growth of chess as a sport in Rwanda and East Africa?

Alain: The challenge in Rwanda is that we don’t have any funds or a kind of sponsorship. For EAC, I think we should have regular regional tournaments in East Africa like it happens in other sports.


(Photo credits: Courtesy)