On hearing of Harold Wanyama’s feat of taking on 25 junior chess players in a simultaneous exhibition match about a week ago, I caught up with him over email for an interview for the readers of Chess Events EAC.
1. What was the objective behind your simultaneous exhibition with 25 junior chess players? Was it to promote the game of chess in general or was there a more specific agenda behind the event?
Harold: I was invited by an NGO called African Gifted Children to play against gifted children across 3 nations (Botswana, Nigeria and Uganda). These are children who are the top performers in their schools. The idea was to encourage the children to exercise their brains and what better sport than chess?
2. Where and when did it happen?
Harold: The simultaneous took place in Makerere University where the kids were camped and it was on the 15th January 2010.
3. Who’s idea was it?
Harold: It was the brainchild of the CEO of African Gifted Foundation (AGF), Tom Illube, who contacted me and was enthusiastic about it.
4. Were you nervous about taking on 25 people simultaneously? Have you previously participated in such an event?
Harold: I wouldn’t say I was nervous but I was excited about the prospect of playing 25 people at a go. I have played simultaneous before at the schools competition but that one was a blitz format! I had 15 mins to my opponents’ 5 mins so that one was a bit tougher though I still managed to win most of them. Here it wasn’t timed.
5. What was going through your head when playing these 25 games?
Harold: I was thinking of the fastest way to win! Hahaha. Seriously the less games the better as it can get confusing.
6. What advice would you give to anyone else in East Africa who wants to do a simultaneous exhibition with 25 or more opponents?
Harold: I would tell them to be focused, forget about drinking, exercise more and practice with some blitz games as it helps.
7. Thank you for taking time out for this interview, Harold. It’s been a pleasure interacting with one of East Africa’s finest chess players. Any parting words for our visitors to Chess Events EAC?
Harold: I would encourage all the young and talented kids out there (we have so many potential titled players) to train hard and play more competitively. I would also pray that we get more sponsors for the game as that would only make us stronger.