Ladies Knight with Jen Shahade feat. Bernice Wambui [PODCAST]

Bernice Wambui, staring intently at chess board
Image Caption
Bernice Wambui, Photo by Allan Rongoey

Jennifer welcomes Bernice Wambui Gikandi to Ladies Knight. Bernice, at just 12 years old, is a rising star on and off the board. She’s the Global Youth ambassador for the Gift of Chess, a member of the Kenya Women’s Olympic team and reigning 2022 Kenya National Youth Champion. She also won the Under 12 Open section in Kenya, becoming the first female to do win an overall category in the Kenya Youth Champs.

Jennifer first met Bernice via the Cross-cultural girls program, in partnership with US Chess Women, the Lighthouse Chess Club (find a previous Ladies Knight interview with Lighthouse Chess Club founders here) and Business Meets Chess and Kids. Bernice went on to attend many of the US Chess Women workshops, in addition to Her Move Next programs, despite them being in the middle of night for her in Kenya. Those lessons, featured legendary GMs and icons from Judit Polgar to Maurice Ashley to Pia Cramling. You can find the full playlist here. 

Jennifer and Bernice speak about what first drew her to chess, and why she is so passionate about giving back via her work with the Gift of Chess, where she spreads chess to kids in Kenyan schools. Bernice talks about being the only girl playing in the Kenya Under 12 Open section.  She also talks about meeting Grandmaster Pontus Carlsson on a recent visit by Pontus to Kenya, where he brought an important bounty: lots of great chess books, including Bernice’s current favorite, My System.

Follow Bernice on Twitter and find out more about her work at the Gift of Chess.  

Ladies Knight features music by the artist Juga. 

Find out more about host Jennifer Shahade on her website and find her books, Chess Queens and Play Like a Girl, at US Chess Sales, where signed copies are currently available.