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Monday, December 19, 2016

An Amazing Game, Mutesi vs. Miladi

Ms Mutesi and Ms Mildai
    A while back when
Queen of Katwe was showing at the local theater I didn't see it because after having watched Pawn Sacrifice, my wife didn't want to see another movie about chess and I didn't want to go alone. But, I finally got around to checking out Phiona Mutesi and the results were quite disappointing. 
     I don't mean to take anything away from Ms Mutesi's accomplishments who grew up in a difficult background and discovered chess as a way out of her situation.  Nor do I fault Disney for making a feel good movie about her, and the massive awareness campaign will, hopefully, solve many of her and her family's problems. But...
     Chessically, the whole thing is a farce! She is hardly a prodigy and being awarded the Woman Candidate Master title by FIDE was an affront to thousands of female players who are far better. 
     In 2012, FIDE awarded Mutesi the lowest-ranked title following her performance in the 40th Chess Olympiad in Istanbul. The title requires that recipients reach, at least once, a rating of 2000. At the time, she was rated 1686, won only one game, against a Korean rated 1542. She also drew three games and lost three. This hardly seems good enough to be worthy of a title. 
     I heard the argument that one reason for her low rating might be the fact that players in her country don't get a lot of chances to play against FIDE rated opponents and when they do, they are usually paired either against much stronger or equally low rated opponents so it's hard to raise their ratings. Hence, ratings are inconclusive as indicators of their actual strength. If that's valid reasoning, why doesn't FIDE give every player who is in a similar situation a title? 
     According to a number of GMs, who are qualified to judge, her performance was no better than an average club player. One GM said, “Let me not mince words: by a purely objective standard, Phiona is not a strong chess player; she is equivalent to a weak-to-average club player (class C or B in the U.S.).” Her current FIDE rating is 1628. 
     If FIDE wants to just hand out titles for publicity purposes, I suggest they establish the title of FIDE BM.
     In looking over some of her games my attention was attracted to this recent fantastic slugfest against the Tunsian Woman Candidate Master, Amen Miladi (born in 2004) who sports a rating of 1432. Both of these young ladies deserve credit for this amazingly complicated game.

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