Promoting Queens Chat With Veronica Matei

Away from the chess scenery of Nigeria, we take a virtual tour of the chess scene in Kenya, the bustling heart of East Africa.

And by good fortune, we have just the best tour guide! 

Who else could take us into the terrains of the Kenyan chess realms if not a true Kenyan queen?

Let’s meet the amazing Veronica Matei from Kenya, as she shares her Chess stories, her travels, and her triumphs in Kenya.

Get comfy as you read.

Please share a bit about yourself, and how your early years shaped your chess interests and aspirations.

I’m Veronica Matei from Kenya. The Eastern region of Kenya is a remote area. I graduated last year, with a degree in electronics and computer engineering.

I was introduced to chess at a young age and became interested in high school. With coaching from my sports teacher, I learned the basics and I have been playing ever since.

In college, I met Coach Andiwo, who further developed my skills. While I performed well in national championships, I didn’t make it to the final phase, but I’m very passionate about chess.

Did Kenyan culture or local influences shape your path into chess and technology?

In Kenya, there’s a need for more women in technology. I decided to combine my passion for chess and technology to encourage more women to pursue tech. 

Initially, I wanted to create a digital board, but my coaching activities and a YouTube video about a blitz chessboard inspired me to develop an electronic chessboard.

What project challenges do you have, and how do you manage your time between chess projects and school?

Managing my chess project alongside academic commitments has been challenging, especially sourcing components outside of Kenya. 

Balancing tournaments with schoolwork and lacking coaching support adds to the difficulty. However, committing daily practice time to chess is essential for improvement. Somehow, the dream pushes me more than the challenges stop me.

Fortunately for me, Jomo Kenyatta University supported my project financially and contributed to its development. The chessboard aims to simplify learning for students and has the potential to impact the community both locally and globally.

What are the benefits of this chessboard?

The chessboard’s light design enhances children’s learning experience by capturing their attention and engaging multiple senses. It reduces frustration for coaches and provides visual aids for understanding piece movements. It’s going to be a real game changer, especially in the way we teach chess.

As a Kenyan chess player, have you noticed any distinct challenges or advantages compared to players from other regions?

Despite challenges, Kenyan players show promise, especially with the growing interest in chess in schools. Outside of chess and technology, I enjoy reading novels and hiking.

How has chess impacted your life?

Chess has taught me patience and resilience. Like life, it has its ups and downs, teaching valuable lessons in strategy and resource management.

Tell us more about your chessboard project and how women can benefit.

The chessboard project aims to facilitate and improve the chess learning experience. The project is open and we are available for bulk sales.

I’m interested in collaborating with Promoting Queens to empower women through chess and participate in their activities, no greater joy!

What are your professional and personal aspirations? How do you see your future journey in chess and tech unfolding?

Realistically, I aspire to become a WIM and represent Kenya internationally in chess. I also aim to empower women through chess and technology.

What do you think about the Promoting Queens initiative?

I’m more than happy to collaborate with Promoting Queens, it’s an amazing initiative.

I’d love to show a demo of my chessboard project with Promoting Queens, and even be a part of the ONLINE CHESS CLUB Always a pleasure to serve.

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