Ivie Urieto is an eight-year-old chess player from Abuja, Nigeria. She started playing when she was four years old, with her father giving her the first steps in the game. Ivie claims the movement of the chess pieces on the board is what mesmerized her and attracted her to the game. Ivie proudly said her favorite chess piece is the knight. In an exclusive interview with LittleAfrica News, she said she loves it because the knight does not have an obstacle.
Ivie has taken part in a few chess tournaments but not as many as she or her father would have liked to. She has participated in nine tournaments in Abuja as well as a few online competitions. One of the reasons why she has not managed to attend as many competitions as she and her family would like is because of school and her dad’s work. This makes traveling far and wide difficult. She, however, did participate in a tournament hosted by Chess Hope, a competition she won in the children’s category. She has also competed in an all-girl online tournament hosted by famous chess player Susan Polgar.
Ivie has a relationship with Gift of Chess and Her Move Next. Her Move Next is a New York-based organization that is looking to create a platform for more girls and women to participate in the male-dominated world of chess. The organization offers training and the chance to participate in monthly tournaments. It also offers coachings free of charge.
The Gift of Chess is also a New York-based non-profit organization. Its goal is to spread chess and its benefits across the world. Ivie is an ambassador for the Gift of Chess in Nigeria. Being an ambassador entails going to schools, orphanages, and local organizations to give away chess boards and teaching people about the game of chess. Ivie has even visited the Nigerian Navy, the Immigration Service, and the Nigerian Civil Defense sharing knowledge about the game and encouraging those branches of government to open chess clubs. In instances where any of these places already have chess clubs, Ivie gives out chess boards and gives chess lessons.
In the same interview with LittleAfrica News, Clement Urieto, Ivie’s father, reiterated that the prominent challenge that his daughter faces is the failure to attend as many tournaments as possible. This is due to his work commitments and Ivie attending school. He also lamented about the lack of a well-developed chess community in Abuja. However, he pointed out that Ivie had gained fame for her skill as a chess player. This led to the launch of a chess club at her school. He also said they are in the process of creating a brand around Ivie in order to create an image and more opportunities for her. Ivie’s father spoke glowingly when referring to the game of chess. “Chess has a way of changing one’s mindset and if you can catch them young, it can go as far as reducing the crime situation in the world,” he said.
Outside the chess world, Ivie is a normal schoolgirl whose favorite school subject is math. Ivie’s four-year-old little sister has followed in her older sister’s footsteps and has started chess lessons.
*Photos courtesy of Clement Urieto.
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