A happy child she is – that is Oyo Hinda, Namibia’s latest top achiever in a field which is sometimes regarded as “off limits”, especially when you are just 8 years and female. Almost completely unaware of how much she has achieved in a mere 8 years of life, Oyo starts by sharing her secret to success “ Daddy taught me to focus so I start by moving the black pawn”. Apparently, according the this young lady this is called the Sicilian. Astounded to hear about this defence strategy for the first time, The Lounge sets out to discover how this all started. Prosecutor-Mum Menencia Hinda shares the beginnings of Oyo’s chess journey which was prompted and encouraged by her countless trips she took with the Mom as she dropped off her brother to chess lessons with Max Nitzborn at the Chess Academy.
At a mere four years, Oyo made a plea for enrollment which was shut down as it was believed she was too young. So Daddy embarked on the journey of a lifetime and taught his daughter the basics in chess. When Oyo started playing chess on a dishcloth with bones taken out of her family members’ plates after dinner, it was abundantly clear that her passion for chess was not a flirting obsession. So this time, she was admitted with Grand Master Max Nitzborn.
“When I sit in front of the chess board, I focus on my game to win.” Clearly determined with an instinct to win, Oyo talks about her chess competitions with members of her family and admits gigglingly that “ I always beat Mummy because she is not focused. I just capture her Queen for free. With my brother and Daddy, its not so easy – sometimes I win and sometimes I loose.”
Currently in grade 2 at St Pauls College in Windhoek, Oyo excels in English, Afrikaans and Mathematics. But she adds quickly that her ambitions are centred on chess as she dreams of becoming a Grand Master and that one day “I want to own my own academy”. She is now recognised as WCM (women candidate master) , a status she achieved before she was in Grade one. After this achievement she is on to achieve WFM (Fide Master ), WIM ( Women International Master) and finally WGM ( Grand Master ). What is clear beyond a doubt is that this little girl’s day in packed with activity as some of her afternoons include piano lessons, interspersed by gymnastics and in line hockey and cello lessons.
Wondering about how she balances a mere eight years old with all of these responsibilities, we enquire whether she has time for fun. She responds by telling us about her doll house and the many dolls who live there include the latest addition imported from Kenya just two weeks ago.
Her visit to Kisumu, Kenya earlier this month resulted in Oyo’s achievement as Africa’s youngest chess champion. After playing nine games in which she only lost one round, Oyo remembers feeling a little bit tense but then decided to relax by going to her room. The next day, she was ready to face her competitors and played a Kenyan girl in the final who she says “made a big blunder”. So after 27 minutes, it was game over and Oyo became the reason for the Namibian anthem to be played as she won gold at the African Youth Chess Championship.
Becoming quite a globe trotter at a mere 8 years old, Oyo has competed in Port Elizabeth, South Africa and thereafter in Zambia where she won all but one round resulting in her becoming the youngest WCM in Africa. In Zimbabwe, she ended fourth a memory which doesn’t rank amongst her favourite memoirs. Her mother remembers Oyo being a bit “teary-eyed” but Oyo objects saying she was “ a little sad, but not crying”.
On a daily basis, Oyo spends at least between 30 minutes to 2 hours playing chess which is a requirement to ensure she puts theory into practice. She also spends one on one time with her coach Max Nitzborn and participates in group sessions on a Saturday.
Committed, resolute and focused – that is Oyo Jorokee Hinda. With her eyes set on conquering the world, The Lounge enquires from Menencia what she thinks made this little as focused as she is – “maybe it’s the two years of breast feeding”. In December, the family will be off to conquer the world in Santiago, Spain to participate in the World Chess Federation Championship.