Woman Candidate Master Tega Mandy Enarevba is a force to be reckoned with in the world of chess. In this interview with our Editor in Chief, Awoyode Emmanuel (BruvsChess), Tega shares her journey to becoming a Woman Candidate Master and her accomplishments in the chess world. Tega, who is based in Houston, Texas, has many accolades to her name and has made a name for herself in the chess community. In this interview, Tega talks about her start in the game, her challenges and what keeps her motivated to excel in the sport of chess.
In this interview, Our Editor in Chief, Awoyode Emmanuel will be referred to as BruvsChess and Tega Mandy Enarevba will be referred to as Tega.
BruvsChess: Can we meet you?
Tega: My name is Tega Mandy Enarevba. I am a professional chess player, a Woman Candidate Master (WCM), and A FIDE Licensed chess Instructor.
BruvsChess: What was your experience growing up in Nigeria?
Tega: I have lots of exciting memories growing up in Nigeria. I was born and raised in Delta state, the southern part of Nigeria. I schooled in Delta State from Primary to University Level. I earned my bachelor’s degree in Pharmacology from Delta State University. Playing Professional chess has given me the privilege of visiting many states in Nigeria and understanding the different cultures and traditions in the country.
BruvsChess: Was chess part of your early childhood?
Tega: Yes, Chess was first introduced to me by my Mum. My Mum was also a professional chess player; she represented Delta state and won many laurels in her days. She is my role model. She taught me how to play chess when I was six (6) years old. At first, chess was like a hobby, a family game we played at home most weekends. At age 10, my interest in the game grew more assertive. My Mum taught me my first opening line, “Ruy Lopez,” and introduced me to chess books. I played my first tournament—Nigeria secondary school game in Imo state in 2002, and my team won the female gold medal. That was how I started playing competitive chess.
BruvsChess: How would you rate chess in Nigeria while growing up?
Tega: It was great, though so many tournaments were not rated. Chess was also not popular then. I am glad at the popularity of chess in the country over the years, as many chess tournaments are now rated, and it’s easy for chess players to get FIDE ratings after tournament games.
BruvsChess: How do you think chess is doing in Nigeria today?
Tega: Chess is doing very well. Though, there is room for improvement. The emergence of chess in school programs has largely sensitized many people towards the game and developed young talents.
BruvsChess: You have represented Nigeria at the Olympiad. What was your experience at the Chess Olympiad?
Tega: It was a great pleasure to have represented Nigeria at the 41st World Chess Olympiad in Norway in 2014. I met different chess players from other parts of the world. It was awesome. I also interacted with the current world chess champion Magnus Carlsen and Hou Yifan (Four-time women’s world champion). I played well and got my chess title, “Woman candidate Master” from this world Olympiad.
BruvsChess: How does it feel to club strong opponents at the Olympiad?
Tega: It’s excellent to defeat higher-rated players from other countries and get a title on the World stage. I felt fulfilled getting to that milestone in my chess career.
BruvsChess: How does the Olympiad rub on you regarding chess improvement and enthusiasm?
Tega: After the Olympiad, my chess improved significantly. Playing against opponents from different countries exposed me to various lines and openings.
BruvsChess: What does it feel like to wear the Woman Candidate Master title?
Tega: It is a good feeling to be a titled player, after years of study and training, it was good to have crowned it up with an international title.
BruvsChess: Your advice to people on entrepreneur opportunities in chess?
Tega: There are many opportunities in chess, not just in playing the game but also in teaching kids and developing young talent through chess in the school program. I train kids through “Chess Aided Mathematics Model” a program targeted at training kids and developing young talent, not just to be the best in chess but also to transfer the benefit of the game into other academic works.
BruvsChess: Can you tell us about your proudest achievement in chess so far?
Tega: There are Lots of achievements that I am proud of; the most outstanding for me was when I won the fastest Female Chess Player in Nigeria (Blitz Gold) at the National Sports Festival, Kaduna, 2009. Two months before this tournament, I was not a blitz player. I was much better at the classical chess time control. However, with determination and perseverance, training almost every day before the tournament. I became the fastest female that year in the country. It was a fantastic experience and made me believe that hard work and determination pay off.
BruvsChess: How do you balance your chess training and other commitments, such as school or work?
Tega: It’s not easy, though; I am very committed, and I set my priorities right, knowing when to train, work or do any other commitment.
BruvsChess: How do you stay motivated and focused during long tournaments?
Tega: Towards tournaments, I do light physical walkouts to boost my endurance. I analyze previous games I have played and watch videos of grandmaster chess games to motivate myself.
BruvsChess: Can you discuss any upcoming tournaments or goals you have for your chess career?
Tega: My main goal is to develop and train young talents. My husband and I founded “e4 Geenius Chess Service in Nigeria and e4 Geenius Consulting” in the United States. I have taught more than 5000 kids’ chess in Lagos, Nigeria. I have also trained kids in Baltimore, Maryland, and I currently coach young players in the Houston part of Texas as a volunteer trainer. I will compete in the Southwest Chess Class Championship, Fort Worth, Texas February 2023 and the world Chess Open Tournament in Philadelphia in June 2023.
BruvsChess: How would you rate chess worldwide pre and after the movie Queens gambit?
Tega: The movie has sensitized people about chess. It showcases the benefits of chess, and most notably, the knowledge acquired from chess is transferable to other facets of life.
BruvsChess: Can you share any advice for young female chess players who are just starting out in the game?
Tega: They should be focused on their goal, have self-confidence, keep training, review grandmasters games and they should believe in themselves that they can make it.
BruvsChess: Thank you for your time.
Tega: Thanks for having me.