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Shoddy Chess Journalism

Northwest University performed well in their 1st PanAm, but journalists botched their achievement

The PanAm InterCollegiate Chess Championships took place from December 27-30, 2017. 58 teams competed. The top 4 finishing teams would then qualify for the College Chess Final Four. However, there were also prizes for other categories such as top Division II (Under 2,200 average), Division III (Under 2,000 average), Division IV (Under 1,800 average), Division V (Under 1,600 average), Top International Team, Top Women’s Team, Top Community College, Top 4-year Small College (Under 5000 Enrollment), etc.

Northwest University in their 1st year won the Top 4-year Small College, which is an excellent feat. However, multiple news media stated that Mutesi, whose life story is the subject of 2016 Disney film “Queen of Katwe”, recently helped Northwest University win the Pan-American Intercollegiate Chess Championships.

Here are some of them:

​In the past, many journalists incorrectly wrote that some youngsters who won the under 1,200, 1,000 or unrated sections are the overall National Champions.

Below is the only correct and accurate article about Northwest University at the PanAm:

NU clenches first place at chess championships
Wednesday, January 10, 2018 8:30am

Heads turned when the Northwest University Intercollegiate Chess Team, led by the “Queen of Katwe” Phiona Mutesi, arrived at this year’s Pan-American Intercollegiate Chess Championships.

  • The attention moved to center stage when the Northwest team won the trophy for the Top Small College Team category in its first season of competition. Northwest clinched the trophy with its 4-0 sweep of defending champion Oberlin College, which had taken the trophy in each of the previous four years.

The Northwest team faced stiff competition to earn the trophy, playing opposite to teams from Columbia University, Arizona State University, Tecnológico Nacional de México, University of Maryland-Baltimore County, Oberlin College, and University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

Small college teams like Northwest played against teams from all divisions and earned the trophy by earning the most points in its division. First-year student Mutesi, featured in the 2016 Disney film, “Queen of Katwe,” played on Board 2 and won three matches while drawing in another.

Congrats to Northwest University. I can't help but notice that the only article to correctly report their achievement incorrectly recounts the history of the Top Small College award. Oberlin did not take the trophy home each of the previous four years; my Carleton College team won it in 2014.

Thanks for pointing that out! Excellent catch!