The story of Phiona Mutesi- Chess Queen of Africa

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Her favourite piece in Chess is the “queen” because she says it moves many many lines which give her a sense of power.

Phiona Mutesi’s story is nothing short of an Inspiration. From living in streets in the slums of Katwe and selling a bowl of boiled maize for daily survival to becoming Uganda’s most successful chess champion, Mutesi has come a long way.

She never in her wildest dream thought of doing well in her life let alone becoming one of the most respectful women in her country.

Born in an extremely humble family in Ugandan neighbourhood of Katwe, life was not as bad when Mutesi’s father was alive. They were not devoid of basic facilities like food, cloths, water and a house. Everything however changed for worse when her father died of AIDS. Phiona was just 3 year old then. This is perhaps the only memory she has of her father.  Soon after, her older sister too succumbed to unknown causes. Phiona too had two close encounters with death in her early days.

Her mother had never been to school hence making it almost impossible for her to work anywhere and soon, Phiona and her family were living on streets.  At the age of 6, she dropped out of school and began selling Maize in the Katwe Street for day to day living.  But her earnings were just not enough to support to her family. Phiona spent many nights without been eaten anything whole day.

Having been hungry for almost three days, She one afternoon followed her brother in hope of getting some food and found something else… an afterschool chess Program run by Robert Katende where people used to get a bowl of Porridge for playing chess. Phiona began playing the game. Taking inspirations from her struggles and finding ways to survive, Phiona learnt chess in just one day.  In a land of no money, fortune or future, Phiona Mutesi found hope and a chance to make things right for herself and her family.

Chess made her happy and injected interest into her. Soon, she realized that this is what she wants to do on daily basis. So she was doing it and as they say –REST IS HISTORY. While attending the class, very soon she beat a boy…Something that was not common in Katwe as women were always seen as second sex and their job was to produce kids and nothing else. Phiona was different from other girls in her slum. She was full of courage and determination. She walked almost 6 km daily to play chess and learned very quickly that that this 64 squares game was not always about playing aggressive. One should learn how to survive and be defensive, much like Phiona’s own life.

Beginning of a new era-

She participated in her first tournament in 2006 and won. Wondering what she got for prize – MONEY…That brought a huge smile to her and her mother’s face who was a reckoning force behind Mutesi all though her life.

In 2010, she competed in Chess Olympiad, where she earned 1.5 points from seven games she played. She is also a proud three time winner of the junior Girl’s Championship of Uganda.

In 2012, Phiona was accorded Woman Candidate Masters title after competing in the 40th chess Olympiad in Turkey. Since then, she has won many awards and travelled all across the world, a dream she never thought would become a reality.

Phiona Mutesi’s next aim is to be a grandmaster for which her journey continues.

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Taylor Fritz – New sensation in Tennis world

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New tennis kid is on the block… Every year we hear a story of an upcoming tennis star who we think can be a future legend. One such name that is doing rounds in the tennis circuit is American Taylor Fritz. Just a year into turning professional, Fritz has been awarded the ATP star of tomorrow. It is a feat that he calls surreal and an assurance that he is headed towards the right direction.

This year has been remarkable for this 19 year old in many other ways. He finishes off the 2016 season with being the youngest tennis player in the top 100. Fritz began the year at number 177 in the world and is currently ranked world number 70. However, he has already edged close to the top 50, his highest being 53 in August.

At the beginning of 2015, Fritz was already showing his special skills while playing junior tennis. He reached at least the quarterfinals of all 4 junior Grand Slams including the final of French open and winning the US open.

His achievements in the Grand Slams helped him reach the Numero Uno spot in boy’s junior tennis player. Fritz also became the first American since Donald Young (2005) and Andy Roddick (2000) to be named the 2015 ITF Junior World Champion.

2016 was like a beginning of a new era for Taylor Fritz. He became the youngest American to reach the ATP final since Michel Chang in 1988, when he made it to the finals of the Memphis.  In February, Fritz cracked the Top 100 for the first time by reaching the quarter-finals in Acapulco, his first career ATP 500 event. Since then, there has not been looking back for Fritz.

Tennis pundits have already started comparing him with Tennis Legend Pete Sampras who happens to be his idol as well because of big serves and heavy ground strokes. Fritz has also had practice sessions with the likes of Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic and both of them believe that Taylor has a talent and the caliber to be a future champion. So, everything seems to be going on Taylor’s way.

Well, personally also Taylor Fritz has everything fallen in place of him. You don’t generally see players who are trying to make mark professionally getting married sooo young. But Fritz did and for him it indeed was the right thing to do. Fritz got married to Raquel Pedraza in California in July this year after two years of dating, breaking so many hearts. Now that everything is settled in his personal life, we hope he begins the new season with many wins on court.