The final Grand Prix on the Uganda Chess Federation’s calendar, the Kireka Open Chess Championship witnessed a new winner after Gong Thon Gong from South Sudan outclassed his competitors to emerge champion.
Gong who has had to endure multiple heartbreaks at the hands of Ugandans lost the fourth round to lowly rated Norman Magino, but once he got back his winning mojo, it was upwards for the South Sudanese.
To win his maiden Kireka Open, Gong had to beat Fide Master Haruna Nsubuga on a tiebreaker game after both players saw off the final round tied on 7 points.
Nsubuga who preyed on International Master Elijah Emojong in the sixth round, and who drew against IM Arthur Ssegwanyi in the penultimate round had beaten veteran Bob Bibasa in the final round, but after Gong outwitting Ssegwanyi, the four-time champion in the last round, the two tied on seven points.
Usually, the player with a better tiebreak wins the competition which in this case meant Nsubuga would be crowned champion, but rules were changed on Sunday. The two had to face off in a tiebreaker that Gong won.
Ssegwanyi who entered the competition as not only the top ranked player but also the defending champion had to settle for a sixth position after his loss to Gong.
It was a very expensive loss for the record winner as it meant he finishes outside the prize category. It was the first time ever Ssegwanyi was finishing below third in the Kireka Open.
Like aforementioned, Nsubuga had to settle for silver. His wait for a Kireka Open title continues.
After his loss to Nsubuga, Emojong recovered to win his remaining two games that propelled him to a podium finish.
In the Ladies category, Peninah Nakabo like her husband was dethroned. Nakabo- the 2022 champion- won both her last two games, but having lost to the eventual winner Sana Omprakash Kayyar in the sixth round, she could only garner 6 points.
Omprakash won all but one game to finish with 7 points. Nakabo had to settle for the second position while WFM Gloria Nansubuga came third with 5.5 points.
In the Juniors section, Mercellino Kiyimba, Elvin Mukisa and Keith Morris Kugonza came 1st, 2nd and 3rd respectively. Dasha Zalwango Kibuule, Kyla Ryann Nakijjoba and Reigner Namakula were the girls that took the 1st, 2nd and 3rd positions.