Exclusive Interview with Two-Time Ghana Chess Champion Dr. Kwabena Adu Poku: Insights from a Chess Champion

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Dr. Kwabena Adu Poku with his championship trophy

The Ghana Chess Championship featured two phases of competition. The first phase was a 7-round tournament held at the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons in Ridge-Accra from December 17-18, 2022. The top 5 players from this phase faced off in a round robin event against the top 5 on the Ghana FIDE ranking list for the championship title. This second phase occurred at the same venue from December 26-28. A player was given a wild card. Find here the final ranking.

We are excited to bring you an exclusive interview with 2022/2023 Ghana Chess ChampionDr. Kwabena Adu Poku. In this interview, Dr. Kwabena Adu Poku shares their journey to becoming a champion chess player, his thoughts on the current state of chess in Ghana, and their goals for the future.

Dr. Kwabena Adu Poku represented Ghana at the 2022 World Chess Olympiad in Chennai, India

Dr. Kwabena Adu Poku has been playing chess for 11 years and has achieved numerous accomplishments in chess. Dr. K has competed in national and international tournaments, including the World Chess Olympiad, and currently earning the title of Ghana Chess Champion for the second time. First time in 2021.

In addition to his success as a chess player, Dr. Kwabena Adu Poku is also heavily involved in promoting and growing the chess community in Ghana. Dr. Kwabena Adu Poku is passionate about introducing the game to new players.

For this article, We would refer to Interviewee Dr. Kwabena Adu Poku as Dr. K and the interviewer Adesewa as BruvsChess. Let’s dive in!

BruvsChess: How does it feel to win the Ghanaian Chess championship for the second time in a row?

Dr. K: It’s a bit surreal, to be honest, but I’m definitely pleased about it. When I won the first one, I was happy to have proven that I could win it, but I didn’t expect to hold on to the title for long. So defending it at least once is a delightful surprise.

BruvsChess: What was your strategy for competing?

Dr. K: It was a more significant and extended tournament than usual, with 12 players this year. Although many dangerous and underrated players were on the field, there were 3 or 4 clear favorites before the event. 

Going into the event, I wanted to avoid losing to other favorites. 

The ever smiling Ghana Chess Champion

My strategy was to collect as many points as possible from the rest of the field. Things didn’t go according to plan, though, as I lost to the 2nd seed IM Eric Anquandah on the second day of play. This meant I had to rely on him dropping more points to the rest of the field than I would. In retrospect, stamina became a significant factor in the final few rounds, as Eric finished with 1.5/3, allowing me to overtake him to win.

BruvsChess: How long have you played chess, and what inspired you to start?

Dr. K:  I’ve been playing chess for about 11 years now. I first got into it when I saw a friend playing at a Games event when I was 15. He only showed me how the pieces moved, but something about the game piqued my interest. I discovered online chess, and I was hooked.

BruvsChess: What do you attribute your success in the championship to?

Dr. K: Truth is, to win any strong tournament, you need a combination of good preparation, good playing form, and good fortune. I’m still benefiting from the heavy practice and study I’ve done over time. But it was equally essential to be in good playing form the week of the tournament, and it still took some results going my way for the victory.

BruvsChess: How do you plan on preparing for future chess competitions?

Dr. K: Ideally (when I have the time), I like to go over significant endgames and middlegame structures in the month leading up to a tournament. Then the week before the event, I look at the openings I intend to play and solve some studies/compositions to get in good calculating form.

BruvsChess: Do you have any advice for aspiring chess players in Ghana?

Dr. K: If someone wants to improve their chess skills, I recommend putting in the time and effort to study and play the game. In many ways, chess can be very fair in that those who invest more time and effort into it become stronger players. Consistent practice and hard work will eventually pay off and improve results.

BruvsChess: How does it feel to be the current chess champion of Ghana?

Dr. K: It is excellent to hold the title for another year, showing that my hard work has paid off. It is satisfying to see the results of my efforts.

BruvsChess: What do you enjoy most about playing chess?

Dr. K: I particularly enjoy the creative aspect of chess. It is fulfilling to bring something new into existence, and every well-played game satisfies this desire. I always appreciate the opportunity to use my creativity and create something from nothing in my work and hobbies.

BruvsChess: What do you hope to accomplish in the future as a chess player and National Chess Champion?

Dr. K: As a chess player, I dream of a day when the game is more mainstream and widely supported through sponsorships. I am actively working towards this goal and hope to contribute to its realization. I am excited to see the game attracting younger players and discovering new, talented individuals. The next generation of chess players will surpass my achievements and take the game to even greater heights.

BruvsChess: How do you balance your professional career as a medical Doctor and chess career with your other responsibilities and commitments?

Dr. K: Pursuing a career in chess is not easy, and there is no secret formula for success. Unfortunately, chess cannot be a full-time career for many of us, and we must prioritize other aspects of our lives. Despite this, I still devote as much time as possible to chess and am content with the results I achieve, given the time I can commit. While I may not be able to become a professional chess player, the game will always hold a special place in my heart.

Dr. K at Work

BruvsChess: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us today. It has been an honor to hear about your journey to becoming a chess champion and your insights into the game’s current state. Your hard work and dedication to the game are awe-inspiring, and we congratulate you on your many achievements.

We look forward to following your future successes and the growth of chess in Ghana. Thank you again for speaking with us.

Dr. K: The pleasure is all mine.

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