This is a belated interview but it is well worth reading. We should have published it in January but you would have been cheated if we didn’t publish it at all . All is well that ends well. CH stands for Chess Heights and EU stands for Emmanuel Usen.
CH: Good afternoon Emmanuel Usen.
EU: Good afternoon Chess Heights.
CH: Can you introduce yourself to our readers?
EU: Alright, my name is Usen Emmanuel. I am a student of the University of Lagos and I also happen to be a chess player so…
CH: What part of Nigeria are you from?
EU: I am from Akwa Ibom State precisely but I reside here in Lagos.
CH: We are interviewing you today because you won the last Chess Heights Monthly, how does that success feel?
EU: Well, it was an awesome feeling. I have not won a chess tournament in a long time. So winning the Chess Heights tournament was very nice. I felt what others feel when they win a competition. I got really excited about winning, it was fun, all in all it was fun.
CH: Was that the first tournament victory of your chess career?
EU: No, no definitely not the first, I’ve won other chess tournaments before but Chess Heights was won after a very long period of time.(of not winning tournaments – Ed.)
CH: Do you have any plans of playing more tournaments in future?
EU: Yes I do. I definitely have plans of playing more tournaments in future. The thing about chess players is the love for the game just wants to make you go for other tournaments and practice just to get better. Yes I plan to play more tournaments in the future.
CH: What do you think is the problem with chess in Nigeria?
EU: Ok, that question is actually wide, but I think in the aspect of funds, when it comes to organizing a chess tournament I think we are lacking, because if you compare the standards here and the standards outside of Nigeria we are not on the same pedestal. And I also think chess lacks the publicity it deserves. Every child in every part of Nigeria should actually know about chess because it plays a very important role in helping children think. It helps build brain development so I think we can do more on publicity and organization when it comes to chess and its competitions.
CH: What is good about chess in Nigeria?
EU: Hmmm, the interesting thing about chess in Nigeria… well I like the idea of what Mr. Tunde Onakoya started; the chess in slums initiative. I think that’s a very good thing I think because he uses chess as a tool to liberate the children of the slum. So that’s a win-win.
CH: In becoming champion this month you didn’t lose any game, what did you find most challenging?
EU: Well, I won’t say I found anything challenging per se, it’s just that my opponents were not giving me any tough time let me put it that way but with all due respect. I played them and they were not really giving me a tough time so the challenge wasn’t there.
CH: Do you expect to repeat this feat in future?
EU: Yes I do, even more than this definitely.
CH: Talking about the Nigerian chess scene as a whole, what new development would you like to see?
EU: Alright so, I would like to see more tournaments happening in the Nigerian chess space. I would like chess to be taken as part of the school curriculum in basically all schools in Nigeria. Yes we can do that for a start, and also in terms of publicity, the way it’s been done when there’s a particular event I think the same should be done for chess too which will enable chess to reach a larger audience. On the radio stations on TV stations, publicity should be done as regards chess.
CH: Who is your favorite player in the history of the game of chess?
EU: Ok, my favorite player… I don’t have one but two. I don’t know if I’m allowed to call the two?
CH; You can.
EU: Paul Morphy and Magnus Carlsen, current world champion. Those two players are my favorite
CH: Who among the current global elites is your favorite player?
EU: Magnus Carlsen is my favorite player currently.
CH: Who is your favorite Nigerian player and why?
EU: My favorite Nigerian player remains the international master Isaac Okeke. I so much respect his zeal, passion and everything he has put to developing his chess. His style of play is very unique so I enjoy watching his games.
CH: When will Nigeria produce a grandmaster?
EU: I think soon. With the right measures put in place we should be able to.
CH: Any last words for our readers?
EU: Ok, I’ll say to you all reading out there, if you want to take chess to the next level you’ll have to do a lot of practice, a lot of study, and as they say practice makes perfect. So when you practice and you study, the tournament is the next place for you to showcase all you’ve learnt so far. And I think with that you’ll make a very fine player.
CH: Ok, thank you very much.
EU: Thank you for having me.