Interview with Chess player Patrick Muwanga, management accountant in Uganda

Patrick Muwanga

Your Name: Patrick Muwanga
Company/ Name of Business: Arcbow communications Limited
Where are you based, city and country? Kampala Uganda
What do you do [profession]? Management Accountant
When did you start playing chess and how did you did playing? 
I started playing 20 years ago and I was 12 years . Grace Nsubuga had come over to our house to spar with my older brother. In the course of the event I don’t remember how, he and my brother gave me a basic run down of the mechanics and I was hooked though I never indulged chess literature until 4 years ago when live human sparing partners became a rarity.

How has chess impacted your life?
Chess for me has been a steadfast companion. It has been a guide as I ventured into the labyrinth of my mind. I could say I have an understanding of how I make decisions because of chess. Because of chess, I can comfortably follow my conscious as it grapples to find solutions to a wide variety of challenges.

Which of the two first moves do you prefer, e4 or d4?
The last 2 or 3 years of study have made me quite impartial to d4 when playing white though I have to forcibly restrain myself from e4 (first love affair you are never free of it)

Which is your favourite piece on the chess board and why?
Can’t really say because such matters are dictated by the position on the board but I do know that my general playing demeanour is improved when my heavy artillery (The rooks) join the main fray in whatever fashion.
What do you regard as your 3 greatest achievements in chess?
My evolution with regards to the game over the last 4 years. My ever increasing strength in blindfold play.  And lastly my yet unpublished ultimate self help chess training manual that has evolved with me.

Who is your favourite chess player and why?
That would have to be Paul Morphy on account of the fact that he did not have any renown contemporaries in his native country and yet he managed to out class all of best players of his time (Anderssen et al) both tactically and positionally. Then JR Capablanca for his beautiful simplicity and Mikhail Tal for his wild imagination

Its been said that a chess player’s personality is mirrored or reflected by their chess style (positional, tactical, strategic). What are your thoughts on this?
I don’t think this is accurate. Positional and strategic players in my experience tend to have lots theory they see the board as a consequence of events gone past and tactical players are artists with the worst of them bordering on dreamers. Both these types of people come in various form. The only timid people on a chess board are those that don’t know what they have gotten themselves into and cannot tell without looking if the d4 square is black or white. If I was to judge people by the way they play, chess players would rank the most Machiavellian not to mention war-some and I would go the Iranian way and ban chess altogether- It is a blood-letting pass time whose contestants are out to inflict malice, anguish and mental torture. Luckily off board we are a most amiable lot. So no, I don’t think personality factors into play.

Name 2 chess players you admire in Africa and why? 
FM Harold Wanyama for his endeavours in popularizing the game in Ugandan social circles and also defending his accolades spectacularly in all the tourneys he has been in. Then Phiona Muteesi for sheer  defiance and inspiring a dream.

What do you think is the right age to start playing chess and why?
One would be lucky to find a kid under the age of 11 years willing to endure chess instruction. I think the right age is 11 years on wards. With proper instruction and 2-3 years you could have an advanced player prepped for serious hardcore battle.

Do you still take part in tournaments and if so, how often?
I have only started taking part in tournaments and only missed last year’s national tournament because I was travelling but i had been playing for the last 3 years before that.

Why would you encourage anyone to take up chess?
I wouldn’t and I don’t. Chess is too taxing and it’s addictive. That said, the highest compliment I can pay a mind is an initiation, in fact the mind so encountered compels the outpouring of how wonderful and beautiful the game is.

 In your opinion should Chess be made an Olympic sport and why?
I don’t think chess should be made an Olympic sport because really it is not a sport. For chess is an intellectual discourse that just happens to be elaborated physically. It is not so far removed from a debate, so unless debates are being considered for the Olympics, then by all means we should throw in chess. The Olympiad suits our purposes just fine.

How would you best describe your chess style? Am strategic more towards positional than tactical.
I would not go out of my way to cause tension or sacrifice material unless the position really begged for it. I know I don’t pursue tactical manoeuvres because they promise intrigue.
How do you keep sharp in chess?
Computer programs and constant self analysis- I find the human mind to be one of the most fascinating things the good Lord created. I am more concerned about my decision matrix in game than any thing else. Chess allows me to treat my mind like an engine, am always tweaking and tinkering. Of course this means a lot of time spent in quiet study and introspection.

How would you like to be remembered as a chess player?
As a chess player  I hope to be the wild card that anyone ever had the loosest  luck  to ever sat across in the 2013 national championships in Uganda. On a lighter note I am writing a manual on self improvement in chess if it inspires a single mind to greatness, then a footnote will do just fine.

What do you think about the impact of computers of chess in Africa.
I really think that computers will raise the level of play in Africa especially with online real time games where one can play anyone across any time zone. However mighty you may feel, a few hours in one of the online gaming rooms and you will be brought back to earth. So computers help us know where we stand relative to the rest of the world.

What do you think it will take for Africa to have a world chess champion?
A generous patron and a prodigy. World chess champions dedicate their whole lives to that one single pursuit. We cannot yet afford anyone in Africa that can live their whole lives on an eight by eight real estate outside of everything else. And honestly I don’t think we should endeavor towards that end, there is no single thing in the whole wide world worth aspiring to, at the cost of everything else.


  1. very honest answers. i especially like it when he says categorically NO, to introducing chess as olympic sport. because chess is a game of the mind, it may distract people from other activities.

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