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Bernice Wambui is Kenya 2022 Chess Open Champion. She's also the Gift of Chess Global Youth Ambassador, AFI Child Ambassador to the United Nations and UNICEF Kenya Voice of Children Ambassador.  Did we forget to mention she is just 12?  Bernice believes chess is not just a game, it's a tool for education. 

Ambassador of Gift of Chess

 As ambassador to  Gift of Chess Foundation, she helps to run the program in Kenyan schools  and believes in the power of chess to develop creativity and decision making skills for students.  Join us in our mission to empower young minds with the Gift of Chess.  Join us to welcome Bernice on this interview with Young Chess Prodigies.

This is Erica from Opening Master, the biggest chess database. I welcome you to our regular interview sessions with greatest young minds in chess.

Interview with Bernice

OM: Hi, Bernice. It's pleasure talking with you. I have few questions for you, and I am pretty sure our chess community would love to hear about you more. Let's start with easy one. What inspired you to start playing chess at such a young age? And can you tell us more about your favorite chess piece?

BW: My name is Bernice Wumbui . I'm 12 years old. I was with parents when I joined First Grade.   The school was exhibiting different clubs.  I attracted to chess because of the way the pieces looked, especially the Knight I wanted to learn how to play with them. My favorite chess piece is the Knight, and I like it because it. The only chess piece with a face,  I'm the one that gives the most forks. It is also the most mysterious and it gets the opponent off guard.

OM: It's incredible how much you learnt and you are only 12. I would love to know how do you balance your schoolwork and chess practice? Is it hard? I have read about your chess achievements. Which one do you like the most?  

BW: I have a personal timetable. I wake up early for chess practice and concentrate while while in school. My greatest achievement is being the Kenya National Youth Chess Champion of the Under 12 Open, and also being the Global Youth Ambassador for the Youth of Chess. I'm also one of the Fair play winners from the African News Chess Championship in Accra, Ghana.

Who is your coach?

OM: Wow. I wish I could balance my work in school like you do. Our viewers are interested about your coach. Is it your mom or somebody else? How do you work together? Also, if you could tell us about your next challenge or tournament. How are you preparing?

BW: I've had many mentors. These are my mom, Women Grand Master Jenniffer Shahade, Grandmaster Pontus Carlson, Mark Hogarth, John Rigai ,Mr. Michael who introduced me to chess when I joined first grade,   the school who permits me to skip some days for chess tournament that are on school days  and Her move next. I am preparing for the African Youth Chess Championship in Egypt.

OM: I am surprised how many coaches you have. No wonder you are a champion.  Do you know many chess girls in your age? What message would you like to share with them?  What challenges are you facing as a young chess player in Kenya?

BW: You have to keep fighting harder to achieve your goals. Even if you make a mistake, you learn from each, and I don't say that I lose. I say that I learn first. I am a young chess player in Kenya, and the challenges . I usually face are the lack of funds travel to many tournaments for exposure,  which is required for chess to improve.

Any advice for other young children?

OM: Thank you, Bernice. As we are coming to the end, I have two more questions to ask. It's been so inspiring talking with you. I would like to ask you, how has chess affected your life outside of the game? Do you have any advice for other young children who want to learn how to play chess?  

BW: I have gotten travel around the world and have learnt a lot about these countries,  which I did not know and experienced it. I have also made many friends all over the world. I also like it when I go to a children's home and I teach a child how to play chess so that they can get some opportunities to and reap the benefits of chess and also, I have gotten better at mathematics. Yes, they should always work hard and always have fun when learning. They should use the simplified versions of the rules to learn

OM: Thank you for the interview.

The interviews with chess prodigies around the world are brought to you by Opening Master - the biggest chess database
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