After becoming the first Namibian chess player to win the Women’s FIDE Master (WFM) title at the 89th FIDE Congress that took place from 23 September to 5 October in Batumi, Georgia,
Rauha Shipindo said the title is just the beginning of many things to come from her.
Shipindo was one of 12 chess players that went to Georgia to take part in the Chess Olympiad that was organised by the Georgian Chess Federation and the Chess Olympiad's organising committee.
An exuberant Shipindo could not hide her excitement during an interview with the Windhoek Observer this week.
“Well, I have just been fueled to push myself even more. I would like to participate in more rated tournaments next year, whether locally, continentally or abroad so that I can increase my personal rating.
“I would like to attain woman international master (WIM) level in a few years. I was actually only planning on attaining the Woman Candidate Master (WCM) title, but stunned myself in attaining a WFM title, which is a first for Namibia,” Shipindo said.
She got the WFM with a final score of 6.5 out of 10 games.
Shipindo’s love for chess started during her primary education days. Since that time, she participated in three previous major chess tournaments, but came back empty handed before she decided to go back to the drawing board and practice harder which has resulted in her winning the WFM in Georgia.
The 28-year-old started playing chess at St Andrews Primary School in Windhoek when she was 13 years old.
“Chess was made compulsory at the primary school I attended and so I had to learn it. That was around 2004.
“I developed a keen interest back then that led me to grasp the concepts so quickly and keenly that no one wanted to play against me anymore.
“Fourteen years later, I still have a passion for it, yet I still have so much to learn. That’s the beauty of chess, you can never stop learning. It’s progressive.
“It was my 4th Chess Olympiad in Georgia after I took part in the Olympiad in 2012 in Turkey, 2014 in Norway and 2016 in Azerbaijan.”
Shipindo came back from the previous three Olympiads highly disappointed with her performances that she decided to train vigorously for this year’s Olympiad to get a different result.
“I was especially inspired by two Namibian chess players (Lishen Mentile), who earned a Women Candidate Master title and Immanuel Gariseb (Candidate Master) title in the previous Olympiads.
“A fellow teammate also told me that I was too nice on the board and I should learn to play more aggressively, which I did. My thought process everyday was developed and when the right moment presented itself I attacked,” said Shipindo a lawyer by profession.
“Well, I am a wife and lawyer at the same time. My brother and husband play against me occasionally. Let’s just say they hate losing so they would rather not play against me anymore.
“I chose chess as every game challenges you mentally. Every game is new, requires strategy, precise calculation, requires patience, and requires you to know when to strike. It’s a rendezvous meeting of the minds.
“Reading the opponent’s mind across the chess board is invigorating. This is why I would choose chess any day.”
President of Namibia Chess Federation, Israel Shikongo, said the win by Shipindo is a sign that the sport is heading in the right direction, even though the discipline does not have a sponsor.
At this month’s MTC Namibia Sport Awards slated for 27 October in Swakopmund, no chess player has been nominated in any awards category.
Even eight-year-old, Ottilie Yorokee Hinda, who made history by winning a gold medal at the African Youth Chess Championship that was held in Kisumu, Kenya in August, has not been nominated.
“From our side we are happy for her (Shipindo) as it is a sign that we are heading in the right direction. It just tells you that anything is possible for other chess players. We have no sponsor, but we receive contributions from individuals.
“I am not surprised that we do not have a chess player nominated in any category because we are under-recognized for our contributions,” Shikongo said.