Uganda chess champion visits Norfolk

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by Joe Flanagan, 13News

WVEC.com

Posted on April 11, 2013 at 4:41 PM

Updated Thursday, Apr 11 at 6:42 PM

NORFOLK-- Phiona Mutesi went from playing chess in the slums of Uganda to playing internationally.

Mutesi learned to play the game of chess because she says she was starving and they gave away free bowls of porridge.

Mutesi's story took off in 2009 when the girl from the slums qualified for Uganda's International Chess Team and then the Olympics. The game of chess was her fast track. 

Lisa Suhay runs a Norfolk chess group called NICE, Norfolk Initiative for Chess Excellence, which teaches students to play chess in an effort to steer them to better things in life.

"If they play chess once a week over the course of a year they can improve their standardized test scores by almost 80%, and that's something that we can give our kids here in Norfolk as an edge that they didn't have before," added Suhay.

The US Chess Federation scheduled Mutesi to visit Suhay and the group.

"Just because of what we do, I think everybody in America who knows about our program sent me this story and said, 'Did you hear about this amazing girl,'" said Suhay.

The 17 year old now holds the title of Candidate Master. She says the game is all about patience, planning, focus and hope.  "It makes you be focused to what you want and to make you want to have hope," said Mutesi.

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