Phiona Mutesi, is a 15-year-old girl born and raised in a miserable slum called Katwe in Kampala, Uganda. She sleeps in a decrepit mud hut with her mother and four siblings and struggles to find a single meal each day. Phiona has been in and out of school her whole life because her mother cannot afford to send her, so she is only now learning to read and write. Phiona Mutesi is also one of the top chess players in the world.
One day in 2005, while desperately searching for food, Phiona followed her brother to a mission church where she met Robert Katende, another child of the Ugandan slums, who works for an American organization that offers relief and religion through sports. Robert introduced Phiona to the game of chess and within months he discovered her immense talent. By the age of 11, in 2007, Phiona was her country's junior chess champion and at 15, her country's national champion. In September of 2010 she traveled to Siberia, just her second time ever on an airplane, to compete in the Chess Olympiad, the world's most prestigious team chess event. While there, Phiona proved herself to be on par with the greatest players in the sport and her goal is to one day become a grandmaster, the most elite title in chess, and to blaze a trail out of Katwe that other children in Robert's chess community can follow.
To be African is to be an underdog in the world. To be Ugandan is to be an underdog in Africa. To be from Katwe is to be an underdog in Uganda. And to be a girl is to be an underdog in Katwe. The Queen of Katwe is the ultimate underdog story.
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