Nasir is only 11 years old. He moved from Nigeria to the United Kingdom with his family early last year to seek better life and opportunities for chess. Before he left, he planned to conquer Nigeria and Africa in chess. His relocation only meant a change in plan. Conquer Wales, then the United Kingdom, then Europe and maybe the world.
He soon won his first trophy in a few months there. Since then, he has gone on to win many medals and trophies. His latest being the 2023 Welsh under 12 Championship and also Welsh under 13 Championship. Winning all these in a year is nothing short of remarkable. And yeah, Farouq is an Arsenal fan just like his dad.
We asked Farouq couple of questions about his chess dreams, challenges his coach Peter Abidogun, and what he can recommend to other chess kids.
This is Emma from Opening Master, the biggest chess database. I am happy to be here with you.
OM: Hi, Farouq. It's pleasure talking with you. I have few questions for you and I am pretty sure our chess community would love to hear about you more. Let's start with easy one. Who inspired you to start playing chess at such a young age, and what is your favorite chess piece?
FN: My dad actually inspired me to start playing chess because one day when I was like five or six, I saw my dad playing chess against one of his friends. I still became interested and my dad saw my curiosity, so he began teaching me and got a coach and everything. After a few years, it became so good. I started beating him. And after that, I guess the rest is history. My favorite chess piece is the rook because he plays such an important role in the game. It defends the king and it is very essential in end games. It moves vertically and horizontally and just looks really cool. My name's also Farouq and arook, so it's kind of natural. I like the Rook.
OM: My next question is about your coach. Who is the magic man and how do you work together? Are you preparing for your next tournament?
FN: My current coach is Coach Peter. He, he's a really good coach in the sense that he has a way of just making you just make the thing seem way more fun than he really is. Like a while ago I was playing a chess game and I really didn't feel like playing it. But then he made a joke that just made everything seem better. The next tournament, major tournament I'm playing is the Golony Cup in um, Scotland, Glasgow, I think it is a tournament. It's a team tournament, and we're all playing to represent Wales in the regionals between Wales, Englands Scotland, and Northern Ireland.
OM: Let's go back to your home country. What challenges have you faced as a young chess player in Nigeria, and when you compare to uk what has changed since you moved here?
FN: I'm currently 11 years old, so to all kids around my age, I would say the best thing you do is keep playing chess because it's fun and helps you in other aspects in life. Playing chess in Nigeria. It is a bit different from UK chess because there are a lot of children in Nigeria that would like to play chess but don't have enough opportunities. But I think there are bit less people that wanna play chess in the uk, but there are loads of opportunities. How do you balance your schoolwork and chess practice?
OM: Can you tell us how different is school in UK compared to Nigeria? I have one question from audience. What is your greatest achievement in chess so far?
FN: Chess a very well rounded game, in sense that's very fun and helps with different aspects of life, like math, critical thinking and puzzle solving. Honestly, there's a much difference between school and Nigeria and the uk. The real difference, I would say is the way teachers teach and the curriculum and school activities. It's really hard to choose between all my 18 Achieve achievements. I have so far, but I would say my favorite one is the one I won a few months ago. It was an under 13 championship that played in Cardiff Wales.
OM: Looks like we are approaching our final questions. Can you tell us how has chess affected your life outside of the game, and do you have any advice for other young children who want to learn how to play chess?
FN: Chess has really helped me with my maturity. Leadership and especially teamwork skills. Teamwork is really important in literally every aspect of life. The advice I have out there for young kids is play chess. You never know. You could be the next greatest player of all time.
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