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10-year-old Egyptian boy becomes nation’s U16 chess champion

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by Mahmoud Fouly

CAIRO, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) — In one of the training classes of a chess academy at an Egyptian sporting club near Cairo airport, Adham Hossam, 10, was focusing to solve a quiz projected on the board by his coach, chess grandmaster Bassem Amin, the highest rated champion in Egypt, the Arab world and Africa.

Despite his little body and baby face, Hossam’s eyes seemed so sharp and his mind so quick during the class at Wadi Degla Chess Academy, which gathered a dozen of young chess players all dressed in yellow t-shirts carrying the name of Wadi Degla club and sitting in desks with a chessboard and a chess set on each.

The boy has recently been awarded a prize from the Egyptian Chess Federation for ranking first among under-16 contestants in the Egyptian Chess Open 2021, under 2000 rating, and he ranked 21st among all participants of all ages in the tournament.

Adham also won this year the first place in the “under-10 boys” category of Egypt’s 2021 junior chess championship for players aged between 8 and 18.

“What I love about chess is the complicated situations that I enjoy solving,” the little smart boy told Xinhua, noting that he loves maths and would like to become an engineer, like his father, when he grows up.

“I would like to be successful in both school and chess,” he added.

Talking about his caring parents, Adham gratefully said, “My parents were so happy when I scored good results in chess. It was sweet.”

When Adham has to play a chess game with his coach, he usually feels more worried and pressured than afraid.

“It’s more concern than fear when I play with Bassem Amin. I feel I am under pressure but not afraid,” Adham explained.

His coach Amin, who ranks 34th best player in the world according to FIDE (International Chess Federation) rating, displayed to Hossam and his classmates a quiz on the board based on one of Amin’s previous international games and they analyzed it together to find the best moves.

Amin described Adham as “a very distinguished talent”, stressing that the boy listens to his coach, practices hard at home and his performance has greatly improved.

“Since I came to the academy, I concentrated with Adham in particular because he’s talented and he has already achieved good results in previous African and Egyptian championships,” the chess grandmaster told Xinhua.

Amin said that starting young in the chess world and being wholeheartedly encouraged by parents are among what he and the little champion have in common.

The boy’s mother, who always took him to the chess class and waited for him outside until he finished, said that they turned home into a chess training camp ahead of each tournament Adham joined.

The housewife pointed out that they try to strike a balance between Adham’s pursuit of chess heroism and his study at school, noting that the boy is among the top students of his school.

“His father, I may say, is considered a coach assistant. He accurately follows up all Adham’s trainings and also the academy here makes me feel there’s a teamwork atmosphere surrounding the boy,” said Inas Mahmoud, Adham’s mother.

Meanwhile, Hesham el-Gendy, president of the Egyptian Chess Federation, referred to Adham as “a project of making a big champion.”

“Adham is one of the very distinguished junior chess players and he has already won a silver medal in an African junior championship in Namibia in 2019,” El-Gendy told Xinhua, referring to the 2019 African Youth Chess Championship, Under-8 Open.

“He’s lucky to be trained by Dr. Bassem Amin, the top player in Africa and the 34th in the world, which is very good for Adham and will transfer to him important experiences and game strategies, especially in chess openings,” the head of Egypt’s chess federation told Xinhua.

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