Friday, October 21, 2016

Disney Movie Sparks a Chess Boom in Uganda

This is not an average chess academy. Wayward chickens wander around the boards balanced on rickety wooden benches in a cramped dirt alleyway, while neighbours look on from the porches of their tin-roofed homes.

This is Katwe, one of the largest slums in Uganda, and the scene of an unlikely chess revolution.

Since 2013, when Disney announced it was working on a feature film about a young Ugandan chess prodigy, the game's popularity has exploded here.

The Queen of Katwe tells the rags-to-riches story of Phiona Mutesi, a young, uneducated slum girl who first turned up at one of the Katwe Academy's chess sessions in 2005, mostly for the free porridge.

A few years later she became the first female winner of the country's junior chess championships and by the age of 17, she was representing Uganda at international competitions.

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