Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Queen of Katwe

This is a story of about a young girl from Uganda who because of her innate talent in chess has escaped a life of poverty. Her life story is shared and represents the lives of many young chess players not only in Uganda but in other countries as well.

While I was watching the movie, I can empathize with the lead character Phiona and her life as she and her family struggled amidst the challenges of poverty. It is seeing through her character how other young but talented chess players in the Philippines are struggling to make ends meet while trying to play chess. 

The difficulties of a poverty-stricken life is often a hindrance in playing competitive chess. How can one think clearly with an empty stomach? How can a player concentrate and focus on the board if burdened with problems at home? These are the challenges that Phiona has conquered with the support and guidance of a missionary and chess teacher.

The movie is moving and inspiring.  For all young chess players born into a life of poverty, this movie gives that motivation to pursue the dream of becoming a chess master whatever the odds may be. This movie showed that an inherent chess talent can be a way to a better life. However, it needs to be stressed that chess talent alone is not enough to realize that dream of becoming a chess master. It requires proper guidance, determination, and luck.  

Pursuing a dream means a lot of failures. Success simply means not giving up as it is said: “fail seven times, stand up eight”.  In the movie, the lead character suffered setbacks in her quest to become a  chess master. But despite the obstacles, she stood up, never lost focus, and continued to pursue her dreams. In the end, Phiona was able to provide her family with a decent home.

Of course, this is not the case for most chess players. Many young and talented chess players do not have a happy ending.  Many do not have the privilege of having support either financially or in training.  Many get lost in the complexity of life or simply succumb to its challenges.  What is to be remembered however is that there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

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