FOR Hassan Mulambe, victory in the New Vision International Chess tournament could not have come at a better time.
The former national junior had the potential to spring some surprises but few would have bet on him outsmarting a field featuring former winners Grace Nsubuga, Bob Bibasa and Isaac Munanira. Even after defeating Stephen Kisuuze, Joachim Okoth and Michael Mawanda to earn three points in three rounds, his threat was still short of the traditional guns.
Mulambe read situations well and rarely found himself on the ropes, defeat to Nsubuga notwithstanding. Playing without pressure was an advantage he used to great effect compared to his fancied colleagues, who were the main focus.
However, until the Bibasa 'fluke', 1999 winner Nsubuga had started strongly. He beat Munanira and Mulambe among others, and despite drawing with Ignatius Wanderema and Bibasa, he held his destiny in his hands going into the final round. But Moses Kawuma, who could have mathematically snatched the title, beat him (Nsubuga) to leave Mulambe champion.
Kawuma's brother Stephen Male started disastrously with a loss to Bwanika. The swiss system provides little margin for error and Kawuma Male's dream ended before it begun. Defeats to Bibasa, Kakooza and Shadrack Kantinti confirmed his demise.
Meanwhile, New Vision Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief William Pike has promised to continue sponsoring the event. Uganda's leading newspaper injected sh5m into the tournament that they have sponsored since 1994. Chief guest at Monday's closing ceremony was Uganda Chess Federation (UCF) patron, IGG Jotham Tumwesigye.