Som Chess Academy

Transforming Lives Through Chess One Move at a Time

Unlocking Doors

Phiona and Robert

US Embassy Visit This month, Coach Robert Katende and Phiona Mutesi were invited by the USA Ambassador to start a Chess program in the US Embassy Information Resource Center. Coach Robert picked six children from the program to escort him and they were all able to enter the US Embassy and meet with the Ambassador. Coach Robert and Phiona presented at the meeting and they presented the Ambassador with an autographed copy of the Queen of Katwe. The ambassador was very thankful to receive a copy of the book and he said he shall treasure that copy as one of the special items in his home! The students to attend, applied via internet and among them was a lecturer from Makerere University. The speaker was very thankful for the event and inspired enough to promise to mobilize other lecturers and some of her students to come and attend the sessions since they are once every month. It was an amazing experience for everyone and just another way to demonstrate how chess is changing lives one move at a time! The filming has wrapped in Kampala and they have moved to South Africa. With the move to South Africa also went six chess players from the Kampala Chess program who have never been outside of Uganda. This is an amazing opportunity and experience for these children and we are incredibly thankful for the movie director, Mira Nair who is striving to show the real people of Uganda. David Oyelowo, who is playing Robert Katende and he speaks a little bit about the importance of this movie and telling the story if we ever want things to change. Read the article here!

Queen of Katwe Movie



Movie Pickups Having completed the needed pick ups in November, final edits are going on and soon locking picture. We are looking forward to the release of the Queen Of Katwe movie come next year 2016. We had four of the academy children be part of the movie and it is the first ever and movie shooting by Disney done in Uganda. It is such an incredible project given the fact that it was done on location. The people in the Slums got several assignments especially as extras, they were transported to set, fed and given allowance. it will be a memorable project in the lives of these people. The entire country if not the continent is looking forward to the launch of this move. It is the the Academy’s desire and prayer that the movie shall get to inspire many people globally.

Phiona Mutesi: Chess – More Than Just a Mind Game

Phiona Mutesi - Chess More Than a Mind Game

Chess is a game for people of all ages and backgrounds. You can learn to play at any age and in chess, unlike in many other sports, you don’t ever have to retire. Age is also not a factor when you’re looking for an opponent –young can play old and old can play young. Chess develops memory. The chess theory is complicated and many players memorize different opening variations. You will also learn to recognize various patterns and remember lengthy variations. Chess improves concentration. During the game you are focused on only one main goal — to checkmate and become the victor. Chess develops logical thinking. Chess requires some understanding of logical strategy. For example, you will know that it is important to bring your pieces out into the game at the beginning, to keep your king safe at all times, not to make big weaknesses in your position and not to blunder your pieces away for free. (Although you will find yourself doing that occasionally through your chess career. Mistakes are inevitable and chess, like life, is a never-ending learning process.) Chess promotes imagination and creativity. It encourages you to be inventive. There are an indefinite amount of beautiful combinations yet to be constructed. Chess teaches independence. You are forced to make important decisions influenced only by your own judgment. Chess develops the capability to predict and foresee consequences of actions. It teaches you to look both ways before crossing the street. Chess inspires self-motivation. It encourages the search of the best move, the best plan, and the most beautiful continuation out of the endless possibilities. It encourages the everlasting aim towards progress, always steering to ignite the flame of victory. Chess shows that success rewards hard work. The more you practice, the better you’ll become. You should be ready to lose and learn from your mistakes. One of the greatest players ever, Capablanca said, “You may learn much more from a game you lose than from a game you win. You will have to lose hundreds of games before becoming a good player.” Chess and Science. Chess develops the scientific way of thinking. While playing, you generate numerous variations in your mind. You explore new ideas, try to predict their outcomes and interpret surprising revelations. You decide on a hypothesis, and then you make your move and test it. Chess and Technology. What do chess players do during the game? Just like computers they engage in a search for the better move in a limited amount of time. What are you doing right now? You are using a computer as a tool for learning. Chess and Mathematics. You don’t have to be a genius to figure this one out. Chess involves an infinite number of calculations, anything from counting the number of attackers and defenders in the event of a simple exchange to calculating lengthy continuations. And you use your head to calculate, not some little machine. Chess and Research. There are millions of chess resources out there for every aspect of the game. You can even collect your own chess library. In life, is it important to know how to find, organize and use boundless amounts of information. Chess gives you a perfect example and opportunity to do just that. Chess and Art. In the Great Soviet Encyclopedia chess is defined as “an art appearing in the form of a game.” If you thought you could never be an artist, chess proves you wrong. Chess enables the artist hiding within you to come out. Your imagination will run wild with endless possibilities on the 64 squares. You will paint pictures in your mind of ideal positions and perfect outposts for your soldiers. As a chess artist you will have an original style and personality. Chess and Psychology. Chess is a test of patience, nerves, will power and concentration. It enhances your ability to interact with other people. It tests your sportsmanship in a competitive environment. Chess improves schoolwork and grades. Numerous studies have proven that kids obtain a higher reading level, math level and a greater learning ability overall as a result of playing chess. For all those reasons mentioned above and more, chess playing kids do better at school and therefore have a better chance to succeed in life. Chess opens up the world for you. You don’t need to be a high ranked player to enter big important competitions. Even tournaments such as the US Open and the World Open welcome players of all strengths. Chess provides you with plenty of opportunities to travel not only all around the country but also around the world. Chess is a universal language and you can communicate with anyone over the checkered plain. Chess enables you to meet many interesting people. You will make life-long friendships with people you meet through chess. Chess is cheap. You don’t need big fancy equipment to play chess. In fact, all you may need is your computer! (And we really hope you have one of those, or else something fishy is going on here.) It is also good to have a chess set at home to practice with family members, to take to a friend’s house or even to your local neighborhood park to get everyone interested in the game. CHESS IS FUN! Dude, this isn’t just another one of those board games. No chess game ever repeats itself, which means you create more and more new ideas each game. It never gets boring. You always have so much to look forward to. Every game you are the general of an army and you alone decide the destiny of your soldiers. You can sacrifice them, trade them, pin them, fork them, lose them, defend them, or order them to break through any barriers and surround the enemy king. You’ve got the power! To summarize everything in three little words: Chess is Life! Thus a perfect tool for mentorship and great platform for discipleship.

Queen of Katwe Movie by Disney Walt Pictures

The Queen of Katwe Movie is a true and inspiring Story of Coach Robert Katende and the Children he decided to father, teach and mentor from the Slums of Katwe.

He is the man who brought Chess in the Slums because earlier on it was believed to be a game of the Elite and played in only noble families.

He started with only one Chess board he owned right from his University and in such a humble beginning, Robert worked diligently daily spending valuable time with the children in the Slums in that they became part of his Family. He started seeking for them opportunities to participate in National Chess events and eventually got them opportunities for school.

This led to the Writing of the an article in the ESPN Magazine which is a record holder with about 9 pages,

It later translated into a book entitled the ‘The Queen Of Katwe’ a book which was first published in English in 2012 and It is now translated into 14 International languages.

  1. Brazil (Portuguese)
  2. Arab Scientific Publishers (Arabic)
  3. Scribe Publications (Australia English)
  4. A.W. Bruna (Dutch)
  5. Michel Lafon (French)
  6. BTB (German)
  7. Knopf Random House Canada (Canada English)
  8. Kinneret Publishing (Hebrew)
  9. Agave (Hungarian)
  10. Piemme (Italian)
  11. Woongjin Think Big Co., Ltd. (Korean)
  12. Juritzen Forlag (Norwegian)
  13. Little, Brown UK (UK English)
  14. China

It was an amazing experience for the entire SOM Chess Academy beneficiaries, Staff, Supporters and well wishers including entire community in Katwe to appear on the big screen.

The entire Shooting project was a big blessing to not only the children who acted in the film but also to the entire Katwe, Kibuli, Ggaba, Owino and other communities where shooting was done from; because people got jobs to serve some as crew and majority as extras. Having some of the children from the Som Chess Academy be part of the acting was an amazing opportunity and their families have been changed for ever.


Som Chess Academy Annual Tournaments 2017

The 6th Edition of Gulu Som Chess Academy tournament is to take place in February 2017.

The 2nd Edition of the Mukuru Som Chess Academy Tournament is to take place in July 2017 and there shall be a Seminar in May ahead of the Annual event.

The 12th edition of the Kampala Som Chess Chess Academy annual tournament is to take place in  December 2017 From the Sports Outreach Resource Center.


Need for Property in Katwe for Som Chess Academy

The Campaign is on to acquire a permanent home in Katwe, Many things are changing in the Slums and The Agape Church Land was bought off and the Church Structure was Demolished. This Forced us to rent a house where we currently operate from as a Chess Academy. We Thank Sports Outreach for support towards the Monthly rent for the Katwe Chess Center. This great need has caused us to launch a campaign to buy a property for the Academy in order to ensure our permanent stay in Katwe slums. As we continue to restore Hope, Empower and Transform Lives

National Chess League – 2017

In 2015, SOM Chess Academy registered as a Club in order to participate in the National Chess League. This was aimed at giving the Pioneers plus other children in the program a better platform to develop their Chess Skills. We also have some other children enrolled in other Chess Clubs like Phiona playing for Mulago Queens, Benjamin playing for Mulago Rooks, Buyinza and Wilson playing for Mulago Knights. The rest of the children Gloria, Lydia, Isiah and Stellah playing for Mulago Pawns. Som Chess Academy Club finished in the seventh position out of 29 clubs that played the league. and this year’s National Chess League started in May. Although the format of the National Chess League has been changed and now there are two divisions. This split required a pre-season tournament to determine the Clubs that shall join division one and those to go in Division two. Som Chess Club Played three matches for the Pre-season and won two thus making it to play from Division One. We are to register the girls Chess team as well and then distribute other girls to other Chess Clubs.

In 2017, Som Chess Academy has been able to Register Five Teams in the National Chess League; comprising of Children trained and nurtured by the organization.

Som Katwe, Som Nateete, Som Kawempe, Som Kibuli and Som Children.

It is an expensive venture but it has been made possible by the wonderful supporters of this work.

For any updates on the National League progress you Click Here


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Disney Unveils the First Picture of the Queen of Katwe Movie

Queen of Katwe First Image

Disney has unveiled the first image from The Queen of Katwe, the biographical drama about a Ugandan chess prodigy starring Lupita Nyong’o, David Oyelowo, and newcomer Madina Nalwanga. Related Lupita Nyong’o talks ‘Star Wars’ audition, eating motion-capture dots Directed by Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding) and based on Tim Crothers’ book (expanded from an ESPN the Magazine article), the film stars Nalwanga as Phiona Mutsei, a young girl from the slums of Kampala who chases her dream of becoming an international chess champion. Nyong’o plays Phiona’s mother, and Oyelowo plays Robert Katende a missionary who teaches chess to local kids. Largely shot on location in Uganda, The Queen of Katwe served as a homecoming of sorts for Nyong’o. “It was so great to go back home,” the actress said at D23 Expo in August. “I’m from East Africa. I’m from Kenya, which is just next door to Uganda.” She added, “This is a story about the commitment to a dream even in the most discouraging of situations. The slum of Katwe is a very difficult place to live, but you see these people living there with dignity and making it day by day. And so to go there and to have that environment to work from really did sober us and enliven us.” The Queen of Katwe is scheduled to open in the fall.

World Chess Olympiad 2016 in Buku, Azerbaijan – September 1, 2016

Olympiad Qualifiers ended in February and it was only Phiona Mutesi who again managed to qualify from the SOM Chess Academy, The rest of the Children improved on their ratings as well. It was unfortunate for Gloria Nansubuga that she missed qualification by a point . In the men category it is only Richard Kato who managed to make it to the final phase of 12 and he finished in the eighth position. If we manage to secure the funds for the air-ticket, Phiona will be making it to Baku Azerbaijan from 1st – 14th September 2016 for the World Chess Olympiad.