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Phiona Mutesi began playing chess because she wanted the free meal the programme offered. She is now a world prodigy and was named a Woman Candidate Master, the bottom-ranking title given by the World Chess Federation. Image: Amy Fallon/IPS

Phiona Mutesi began playing chess because she wanted the free meal the programme offered. She is now a world prodigy and was named a Woman Candidate Master, the bottom-ranking title given by the World Chess Federation. Image: Amy Fallon/IPS

KAMPALA, May 28 2013 (IPS) - Phiona Mutesi was a muddy, desperate nine-year-old foraging for food in Uganda’s biggest slum, Katwe, when she discovered, through her older brother Brian, a chess programme.

It was not pawns, rooks, bishops, knights or a king that drew her to a church verandah in Katwe, Kampala – it was what came with the lessons: a free bowl of porridge.

“We didn’t have food. We were sleeping on the streets because we didn’t have the money to rent a house. It was a hard time,” says Mutesi, 17, whose father died of AIDS when she was three . . .

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