China Daily (Hong Kong)

Child champion hopes to checkmate his chess opponents

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CAIRO — 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 highestrat­ed champion in Egypt, the Arab world and Africa.

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

Adham was recently awarded a prize from the Egyptian Chess Federation for ranking first among under-16 contestant­s in the Egyptian Chess Open 2021, and ranked 21st among all participan­ts of all ages in the tournament.

He also won the first place this year 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,” he says, adding 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,” Adham says.

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

When he 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 explains.

His coach, Amin, who ranks as the 34th best player in the world, according to FIDE (Internatio­nal Chess Federation), displayed to Adham 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 describes Adham as “a very distinguis­hed talent”, saying 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

What I love about chess is the complicate­d situations that I enjoy solving.”

Adham Hossam, 10-year-old Egyptian chess player

Egyptian championsh­ips,” the chess grandmaste­r says.

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

Inas Mahmoud, Adham’s mother, who always took him to chess class and waited for him outside until he finished, says they turn their home into a chess-training camp ahead of each tournament Adham plays in.

She says they try to strike a balance between Adham’s pursuit of chess heroism and his study at school, adding 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 on Adham’s training and also the academy here makes me feel there’s a teamwork atmosphere surroundin­g the boy,” she says.

Meanwhile, Hesham el-Gendy, president of the Egyptian Chess Federation, refers 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,” he says, referring to the 2019 African Youth Chess Championsh­ip, Under-8 Open.

“He’s lucky to be trained by Bassem Amin, who will transfer to him important experience­s and game strategies, especially in chess openings,” the head of Egypt’s chess federation says.

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