CHESS: Bibasa Bob Finally Lands Fide Master Title

After a spirited performance in the 2019 Zone 4.2 chess championship, experienced Bibasa Bob Gilbert has been finally awarded the Fide Master (FM) title.

Famously known as “The Beast”, he drew against GM Adly Ahmed from Egypt en-route to the FM title joining a select group of players in FM Wanyama Harold, FM Patrick Kawuma and FM Haruna Nsubuga, among others.

The development was confirmed in a written document by FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovic.

“FIDE is pleased to confirm herewith that Bibasa Bob FIDE ID 10000240 has obtained the title of Fide Master,” the statement reads in part.

His success further immensely contributed to the recognition the Uganda Chess Federation as one of the best performing federations in Uganda in 2019 with 37 international medals and several chess titles, probably their most successful year on the international scene.

At the peak of his chess career, Bibasa together with some colleagues used to travel for regional events without return fare.

His confidence to travel and play often with borrowed money or just a one-way fare combined with the determination to deliver at international events and sometimes sponsor his colleagues made him stand tall and admirable, and in the process earned him the name ‘The Beast’.

As a former National Champion and player who has represented Uganda at multiple Olympiads, the recognition is quite overdue though very welcome.


Bibasa has played for several chess clubs including Kawempe, Luzira, and recently for D’mark under the sponsorship of Kawuma Steven Male.

In 2015 Buti Raphael made history in Uganda by becoming an FM at over the age of 40. Bibasa Bob at 43 years becomes the second player in Uganda to collect the title at over 40 years. He has been in possession of a Candidate Master (CM) title since the early 2000s.

The road to his FM title started after finishing second in the 2019 Grand-Prix circuit organized by UCF where he led the event until the final when he was leapfrogged by IM Arthur Ssegwanyi to become the official player for Uganda at the 2019 zone 4.2 chess championship.

Only one official player from each country is entitled to full board sponsorship from the organizer and hence the Beast could only attend the event as an additional player.

Together with six other players, Bob was later partially sponsored by the federation to represent Uganda at the 2019 Zone 4.2 chess championship in Mombasa Kenya with Philanthropists pitching in to meet the other costs.

UCF further negotiated with Chess Kenya to allow some Ugandan players to use alternative cheaper accommodation thus enabling Bibasa to make the trip and play while commuting to the event venue.

Team Uganda, a renowned regional chess powerhouse, stood firm and defended the East Africa as they shared spoils with the much-fancied Egyptian side which had 3 grand-masters.

The open category was won by GM Adly Ahmed with the 2nd and 3rd positions were scooped by FM Haruna Nsubuga and IM Arthur Ssegwanyi respectively. Although Bibasa was not on the podium, he had already done enough to secure the FM title by scoring two-thirds of the points.

Amid the Covid-19 outbreak, the UCF president Eng. Mwaka Emmanuel together with several other delegates braved the route and traveled to United Arab Emirates where they attended the just concluded 90th FIDE congress.

It was during the Executive board meeting where UCF boss caused a delay in passing the Qualification Commission report as he made a solid case to FIDE demanding and challenging the delayed awarding of a number of titles to Uganda.

UCF president Mwaka Emmanuel during the conference

It took the FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich’s intervention and request to the Commission chair to look into the matter of the several pending titles for Uganda. The titles included FM title for Bibasa Bob, WIM title for Amoko Ivy and some pending conditional titles from the 2019 AISCC.

“FIDE on Friday 19th March 2020 pronounced the award of the FM title to Bibasa Bob bringing the number of FMs in Uganda to five to the joy of Uganda Chess Federation. The FM title is a great present to Uganda and UCF wishes to congratulate him upon the great achievement and wish him a quick recovery. This will inspire several players who are associated with the chess community in Uganda. Thanks to FIDE President, Chess Kenya, QC chair and all who made the title award possible, echoes Mwaka Emmanuel, the UCF president.

Mwaka adds, “On a sad note FIDE indicated that under no condition would the Woman International Master (WIM) title be awarded to WFM Amoko Ivy who was the winner of the ladies category ahead of two Egyptians and she therefore remains at the WFM title.”

Earlier communication indicated that the title could not be awarded because it was not a world cup qualifier and no other zone in Africa was awarded the title as well. This is a big blow to the east African region as Ivy would have been the first to get such a title in Uganda.

“UCF is still making all necessary follow up, pushing for the pending conditional titles from the 2019 Africa Individual schools chess championship and shall provide details to the chess fraternity as soon as FIDE reverts,” Mwaka maintains.

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