At just eight years old, Princess Eleanor Ncube has already established herself as a rising star in the world of chess. The Grade 3 scholar at Mother Touch Group of Schools in Victoria Falls began playing the game in May 2022, and in just one year, she has already won multiple medals and competed in international tournaments.
Princess’ interest in chess was sparked when her former school, Jacaranda Montessori, introduced the sport in their co-curricular activities. She quickly took to it and began attending tournaments in Victoria Falls, where she won a bronze medal in her first month of playing. Within the next three months, Princess won two gold and two bronze medals in various competitions.
Recognising her potential, Princess began competing in open championships, including the ones in Masvingo and Chinhoyi University. In November-December 2022, she competed in her first international tournament, the African Amateur Championship in Mombasa, Kenya, where she earned two points out of nine rounds.
Princess’ dedication and hard work have paid off. She recently participated in the World Schools Championships held in Rhodes, Greece, and scored four points out of the nine rounds played. This was her first opportunity to play in a world championship event with six other players from Zimbabwe. The best from the Zimbabwe team finished with 4.5 points.
The tournament was held from April 13 to 22, 2023. For Princess, it was a chance to compete at the highest level and to learn from some of the best chess players in the world. She may not have won the tournament, but the experience was invaluable.
Since then, Princess has continued to compete in open tournaments, such as the JR Mawere and Easter Open, to practice and improve her skills. As the development of chess standards in Zimbabwe is still in its early stages, Princess has an international coach, Safinah Mugide from Uganda, who provides her with two lessons every week. She also practices with her former schoolmate, Emmanuel Zivambiso, who is the same age as her, and her school coaches, Andile and Taku, twice a week. In her free time, Princess follows chess lessons on Chess Kid.
Princess’ talent and dedication to chess have not gone unnoticed, and she hopes to inspire other young black girls to take up the sport. She believes that chess can help develop problem-solving skills and can be beneficial in any career. In an effort to encourage others, Princess has created an Instagram account (@eleanor_chess), where she shares her journey and motivation with others.
“I want to motivate all Africans to take up the sport of chess,” says Princess. “There are very few young black girls playing chess right now, and I want to change that. I believe that chess can help our young future leaders acquire different problem-solving skills through the sport. You will never regret the time spent towards chess, and it can help Africa in many ways” She told SAT.
Princess’ dedication and hard work have already paid off, and she has become a role model for young girls and boys alike. Her love for the game and desire to inspire others have earned her the respect and admiration of many.
“Princess is an inspiration to all of us,” says Mugide. “Her determination and hard work are remarkable for someone so young. I have no doubt that she will become one of Africa’s finest chess players and inspire others to follow in her footsteps.”
As Princess continues to develop her skills and pursue her dreams, she hopes to make a positive impact on the world of chess and inspire others to take up the sport. Her journey is just beginning, and there is no telling how far she will go.