"My opponent left a glass of whisky 'en prise' and I took it 'en passant". - Henry Blackburne | SINCE 2007

Friday, October 26, 2007


Ben Nguku bounced back to win the mombasa open over the weekend.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


Lucky Dube a great African musician died on Friday aged 43. His music is a great part of my chess heritage. My friend Samuel Chebii introduced me to his music and I introduced him to chess. One part of this unique equation has been taken.

Lucky dube one of Africa’s greatest stars was shot dead in South Africa on Friday after an attempted car jacking incident. He was 43. Dube was one of Africa’s great reggae stars whose music transverse all continents and whose songs played a pivotal role in the struggle aganaist apartheid.


Ministers of religion
have visited me many times
to talk about it
They say to me
I gotta leave it I gotta leave it
It's a bad habit
for a man
But when I try to leave it
my friends keep telling me
I'm a fool amongst fools

Now I'm a slave, a slave
I'm a slave
I'm a liquor slave

Luky dube in the song slave

I know most of my readers are wondering why I am writing about music in a chess blog. But lucky dube and chess to me are so entwined. Although I will always be posting on chess I want to take readers back on memory lane where lucky dube, chess and I met.

Deep in the winding hills and the beautiful countryside of the rift valley in Kenya lies what the early European settlers called the white highlands. In this land reminiscent of the British Isles countryside, early settlers found a home away from home. They led a lifestyle similar to that in Britain; reared ashire and freshian cattle, planted rose flowers, built churches and yes played cricket.

After independence in 1963 Kenyan natives were resettled in these farms and my grandfather was a beneficiary and this is where I was born. I completed college in 2002 and I did not get a job immediately so for one year I had time that completely altered my chess life.

Samuel chebii had also completed college but did not also have a job and one day he made a remark that no one could beat him in chess. We did not have a board to prove this so we looked for wood and carved out pieces that looked similar to chess pieces. For the board we cut out a carton box and used red paint to color the dark squares. Within 2 days the board was complete and our first game was underway. I crashed him in 15 moves, that day we played 17 games and I won 17 - 0. You see he was a complete patzer but he could not believe how I won. We played daily for the next 6 months from 0800hrs to 2200 hrs averaging 19-25 games a day. We did not have clocks; I had never seen a chess book and no other person could play the game in the area.

In the evenings after playing long games and getting mentally tired we visited a local brews den to drink local alcohol. I did not drink myself but my friend was the real drinker of the local stuff called chang’aa. After a few bottles he would sing lucky dubes songs. He was so obsessed with lucky dube and chess that he compared lucky dube and chess in the slightest opportunity he could find. He explained to me how the creativity in dubes songs was compared to capablanca’s. He fed me this ideology everyday for so many months that I nearly accepted it. On our way home he would sing his songs that I got to know the lyrics although I had never had of the song.

Over a one year period his chess improved so dramatically that he was competing with me. We acquired some chess literature although we still used our old playing set. We argued about the universe, light, event horizon, chess, politics, women but on lucky dube and chess that is where we agreed.

So when I received the news of lucky dube’s death it was double mourning when I called my friend he just told me “chess is dead”. That represented how much chess and dube were so close to him and me.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


After a long break without a major tournament, Mombasa will this weekend be the venue for Kenyatta day tournament. The venue is not yet confirmed but the tournament is still on.

The historic fort Jesus in Mombasa is part of the rich heritage in the East African port town. The Mombasa open will mark a return of major tournaments in the Kenyan chess scene.


Egyptian GM Ahmed adly is the new world junior chess champion. Adly won the event after scoring 10/13 in the tournament held in Armenia.

Many Kenyan chess players are familiar with Adly having been defeated by Ben Magana in Namibia during the African individual chess championships.

Final Standings.
Ahmed 10
Popov 9.5
Hao, Andreikin 9.
Meier, Pashikian, Rodshtein, Negi, Jones 8.5


Tuesday, October 16, 2007


You have all seen it somewhere, a board in a book with the king on the wrong square or a board with the left square being a light square and many more. But if you thought this was stuff of only third rate publishing houses, you are in for a surprise. Even at the top level things sometimes go awfully wrong.

When i first learned how to play chess, we had arguments about how the board should be arranged and the positioning of the king and the queen. The general confusion arose due to the diagrammatic representation on the chess sets outer cover. Some of us took the diagrams to be a point of reference for we did not have another way of confirming. It took us quite a while to realize what was correct. Chess representation in non chess media has always been wrong. Presented here are the collectors collection of this theme.

At the top most level things are not always correct. During the Kramnik - Leko match in 2004 the creators of the logo placed the king in the wrong square. Whatever happened is truly amazing i cant think of anything to equate it to.

But the above error is not confined to 2004 only. During the 1962 candidate matches, the poster was used. This is truly frightening. The board is not properly set, black pieces are on the bottom and the left square is white! Absolutely amazing stuff from chess organizers.

Chess publishers often get things wrong as seen above. But the picture in the bottom book is so terrifying i wonder if its from a chess game. I cant figure out who is black and who is white.

But horrors never cease. In this apocalyptic heading from 1997 inside chess, IBM's deep blue had defeated Kasparov but the all smiling Dr CJ Tan the non playing captain of the IBM team is seating next to a board with the king in the wrong square. I wonder maybe the computer interface for the game was similar.

But we end in a lighter note, whatever those guys are saying is the story for another day but they have what looks like a chess clock or is it?


Sunday, October 14, 2007


I got this pictures from this interesting website . It also has many historical pictures.

The pictures show russel playing chess with his son and wife.


It is interesting times for black chess players. After Amon Simutowe became a GM elect now Pontus carlsson Has become the second black man to achive GM title.

The chess drum
The drum blog

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


I have never read a more passionate and touching article than this of one Tom Murphy a street chess hustler in Washington D.C. The days and knights of tom Murphy by Scott wells appeared in the Washington post and has received such wild acclaim for the personal touch.

Tom Murphy of 'Dupont chess university', seated gives a talk.

With no bank account, mobile phone, or home you would expect tom Murphy to be unhappy. But his joy is chess. An encyclopedia of chess as one student described him, his story is a must read.
READ ABOUT TOM MURPHY THE PROFESSOR AT Chess University of Dupont Circle.

The chess drum blog. comments and views
The chess drum: review
Urbanagora; comments


Everyone is talking about a renaissance in African chess. After Amon Simutowe earned his final GM norm Scott johnson was is Namibia for the African individual chess championships. And in his report appearing in Newsweek he talks passionately on African chess.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007



Akello Atwoli far left and the Kenyan contingent to the all African games in July.

Akello atwoli is showing the old boys that their time is up. The university of nairobi student won the Kim Bahri organized event at the Nairobi gymkhana ahead of veterans like Ben Magana and Mehul Gohil.Akello should be proud but i used to "karanga" him like a patzer 2 years ago.


After Paul Maloba unearthed street chess players in Nairobi, this theme seems to be very popular. The New York times and the Washington Post have done comprehensive articles on this topic plus the one and only Larry Khaduli has unearthed more in Siaya!

Little Daddy, who said he started playing street chess in 1976, said he won about 80 percent of the time. A crucial part of the game is not to win too quickly, he said. “You make the games close,” he said. “You don’t want to crush them. You want to leave their ego intact, because you want to keep them coming back.”

In my recent visit to Uhuru estate, Jeri, I met the real street chess.a group of chess players, Geoffrey omondi- currently at Strathmore University, Bruno (The master drawer)- Am told he is more Drawcula than Singe, Ngunjiri Harry- Formerly of Moi University, Tom Amwai - formerly of Moi University, Jose and two other guys whos names I've forgotten.READ MORE

Paul Maloba and pals playing chess. Larry Khaduli whose article is written below is seated on the right.

Russian Paul and Little Daddy – the NYC chess scene
September is a time of rebirth for chess. With schools back in session, students are returning to their chess clubs. Some of those students may be dreaming of vying for the title, now held by Vladimir Kramnik. More likely is that they will someday vie for a few dollars in Union Square Park in Lower Manhattan against the likes of a man known as Russian Paul. The New York Times reports.

The Days and Knights of Tom Murphy
Chess players and hustlers come from all over to be part of Dupont Circle's famed scene. For some, leaving is much harder.
By Wells Tower
Sunday, September 30, 2007; Page W08

IN DUPONT CIRCLE, AN INSTITUTION OF HIGHER LEARNING HAS BEEN OPERATING UNOFFICIALLY ALONG THE PARK'S EASTERN PERIMETER FOR THE PAST THREE DECADES OR SO. Known to its habitues as the Chess University of Dupont Circle, the school has neither walls nor accreditation. Its campus and physical plant consist of little more than the 10 uncomfortable concrete table-and-chair sets that line the arc of sidewalk on the circle between New Hampshire Avenue and P Street NW. READ MORE

street chess? no way, here we talk of footpaths etc......its simply chess.i have just received a call from an old friend JOS ,we met and actually were both very active members of eldoret chess club,ambasi, muge ,maloba ,lukoye, mwashe na wengine might remember the guy,
he is now teaching somewhere in siaya........geography/mathematics and yes oh yes CHESS!!
who is that who was doubting the Extend to which chess is played?
he has already assembled 15 chess players who meet regularly ,they include teachers, students and local professionals,
now this are the true scouts, working away from any limelight.......but their contribution is priceless ,
JOS tells me he has two pressing issues that are stunting the development of the game
1.he has only one chess board...during full house ,a guy waits for eternity to get his turn
2.they are moving to the next level and need a constitution to register a chess club.

i need people to walk with me and provide some support,
please talk to me singe ,we need some boards ,destination siaya...
johny, can i get some copies of constitutions ck ,or whatever.......

Saturday, October 6, 2007


As we look back at Annand winning the world championship, our very own John Mukabi played annand in 1988 Olympiad in ThessalonĂ­ki . Here is the game plus a few annotations.

[Event "ThessalonĂ­ki olympiad"][Site "ThessalonĂ­ki"][Date "1988.??.??"]
[Round "2"][White "Mukabi, J."][Black "Anand, V."][Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C68"][BlackElo "2555"][Annotator "korir"][PlyCount "130"]

1. e4 1... e5
{Opening = C68 - Spanisch-Abtauschvariante /Ruy Lopez-Exchange Variation}
2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Bxc6 dxc6 5. Nc3 f6 6. d4 exd4 7. Qxd4 Qxd4 8. Nxd4 Bd6 9. Be3
{a fairly common position played by alekhine and lasker.}

(9. Nde2 Ne7 10. Bf4 10... Be6 {alekhine-teichmann})

9... Ne7 10. f3
(10. O-O-O O-O 11. Nb3 11...Ng6 {alekhine-lasker})
10... O-O 11. O-O-O Ng6 12. g3 Re8 13. Nb3 Bb4 14. Bd4 b6 15. a3 Bf8 16. f4
(16. h4)
]16... Bb7 17. Rhe1
{with blacks light squared bishop on b7, and ...c5 eventually to be played whites rook on h1 will have to move.}
17... Rad8
{annand delays c5 for as long as he can to develop his pieces.}
18. Bf2 c5 19.Rxd8 Rxd8 20. Nd2
(20. h4)
(20. Rd1 Rxd1+ (20... Bd6 21. Nd2 (21. h4 h5) 21...b5) 21. Kxd1 21... Bd6 {leads to a minor piece middle and endgame})
20... Ne7 21. g4 21... Ng6
{f5 will not be able to boot the knight as it will now have an outpost on e5}

22. Bg3 Bd6 23. e5 fxe5 24. fxe5 Be7 25. Nc4
(25. e6 !?)
25... Bf3 26. e6 Rc8
(26... Bxg4 27. Bxc7 Re8 28. Ne4)
27. Ne3 27... c6
(27... Bg5 28. Kb1)

28. h3
{mukabi has played well. his pieces are more active and blacks uncoordinated pieces are still looking for what to do}
28... Bg5 29. Kb1 Re8 30. Nc4 Nf8 31. Nxb6 Rxe6 32. Rxe6 Nxe6 33. Nd7 Bg2 34. h4 Be3 35. Nd1 Bd2 36.Nf2
{blacks double bishops are making life hard for white.}

36... c4 37. Ne5 Bd5 38. c3 Nc5 39. g5 Na4 40. Kc2 Be3 41. Nxc4 Bxc4 42. b3 Bb5 43. bxa4
(43. c4 Bxc4 (43... Nc5 44. cxb5 cxb5) 44. bxc4)
43... Bxa4+ 44. Kb2 44... Kf7

{so far the game is evenly balanced. blacks bishop pair seem to be the only
strong point but with good play this should be a draw.}

45. Ng4 Bc5 46. Ne5+ Ke6 47. Nd3 47... Be7
{whites knight harass black pieces, but for how long?}

48. Nb4
{the knight will soon run out of squares.}
(48. c4 Kf5 49. Bf2 49...Kg4 {leads to very sharp play})
48... a5 49. Nd3 Bb5 50. Nf2 Kf5 51. a4

{I cant figure out what this pawn sac was for, this gives black a definite
(51. Nd1 51... Bc5 ) 51... Bxa4 {Black gets the initiative}
(52. c4 h6 53. gxh6 53... gxh6 )
52... h6
{as the bishop abandons its defensive duty, blacks centralized king causes mayhem on the king side }

53. gxh6 gxh6 54. h5 Bh4 55. Nd3 Bb5 56. Nc5
{with a series of forcing moves annand is able to maintain his advantage and threaten to win a second pawn. black is now winning}

(56. Ne5 )
56... Be7
(56... a4 57. c4)
57. Bb6
(57. Nd7 a4 58. Ne5 58... Bg5 )
57... a4 58. Ka3 Kg4 59. Kb4 59... Kxh5
{with both black bishops still on the board, blockading of the passed h pawn
will be an impossibility}
60. c4 Ba6
(60... Kg4 61. cxb5 cxb5 62. Kxb5 )
({even here black wins} 60... a3 61. cxb5 (61. Kxa3 Bxc4) 61... a2 62. bxc6 a1=Q)
61. Kc3
(61. Kxa4 Bxc4 62. Kb4 62... Bd5 )
61... Bxc5
(61... Bf6+ 62. Kb4 a3 63. Kxa3 (63. Nxa6 63... a2 64. Nb8 a1=Q 65. Nxc6 Qb2+ 66. Ka5 66... Kg4 ) 63... Bxc4 64. Kb4 )
62. Bxc5 Kg4 63. Bd6 h5
(63... Bxc4 64. Kxc4 Kf3 65. Kb4) 64. Kd4 (64. Kb4 64... h4 )
64... h4 65. Kc5
(65. Kc3 Bxc4 66. Kxc4 )
65... a3
{Threatens Kf5}
(65... a3 66. Kxc6 66... a2 (66... Bxc4 67. Bxa3 Kf5 68. Be7 ))


Chess Kenya problems may be a thing of the past for one Larry Kagambi. He is joining the real politics now. After his chess kenya stint as the secretary general, larry is eying the Makadara civic seat.

Larry Kagambi

In an interesting article Oscar Pilipili takes us through the romance of sports and politics in this election year. Read it all here

Thursday, October 4, 2007


Collins Apiri son of legendary chess player Philip Apiri lost to Peniel weru in the boys under 10 championships. The tournament served as a qualifier for World youth championships to be held in Ankara,turkey from November 17.

Peniel Weru

By Sammy Kitula
Kenya's national boys' under-10 chess champion, Collins Apiri failed to make the team to the World Youth Championships to be held in Ankara, Turkey, from November 17 during the trials held at the Little Angels' Day Care Centre in Parklands, Nairobi.

It was a sweet revenge for Peniel Weru who defeated his perennial rival Apiri who had edged him out at a tournament earlier in the year, to grab the ticket to Turkey.

Weru amassed 5.5 points, with Apiri settling for fourth position on three. In what went down on record as the day's biggest upset, reigning national boys' under-12 champion, Ankush Nagda, failed to impress, falling by a point to his twin brother Akshay Nagda who won the category with six points.

In the girls' under-16 category, Esther Mimano qualified for the World Youth Championship without breaking sweat after her would be opponents failed to honour the match, while the girls' under-12 game will be repeated this weekend after Rivani Shah, Maureen Mbwaya and Tina Sathyanarayan all tied on three points.

Fridah Ngwaya amassed three points to qualify in the girls' under-eight contest with Dominic Nyonje claiming the boys' title in the same category with 2.5 points.

Rahul Mohan bagged the boys' under-14 title with four points after being declared the winner with a better head-to-head record against Aneurin Howarth, while Vaishnavi Rammohan amassed four points to take the girls' title in the same category.

In other results of the tournament, Allan Chege took the boys' under-16, Devisalini Sivaraj winning the girls' under-18 category and Leona Asiema taking the girls' under-10 title.


One of the Kenyan chess players i have so much respect for is Paul Maloba. He is the one who started the Kenya chess forum, went to the streets and unearthed a new breed of chess players e.t.c. so when he speaks i turn to listen. Here is his take on the recent discussion on the way forward for Kenyan chess.

Kim Bahri initially commented this on this chess blog:
I had promised myself not to get involved in chess politics after 1999 but after 8 years I see the same issue. Chess players in Kenya are just trying to dig a hole in water. I have gone through the constitution and found it to be a much better document than the one we had many years ago. Why waste so much time and energy doing another constitution?? We are writing a new constitution to fit chess players who have ignored the current one. Will the new one be followed. Never , Never Never. Turmoil will continue as it has since the first chairman was there. His name was Mr Sikand by the way.

The way forward is as follows;

1 The National chess league be set up by teams paying the membership fee that is set out in the constitution ie Ksh 15k for corporates and 5k for non corporates.
2. The school league be set up with the schools paying Ksh 5k
3. The provincial branches for Nyanza, Nairobi and Rift valley can be set up without much effort. We have Shakeel in Kisumu, Korir in Eldoret and we have many people for the Nairobi Province.
4 CK should co-opt two people into the committee to help in organizing these two leagues which are LONG LONG overdue
5. The elections are then held under the new constitution in Feb 2008 by which time the league is well underway.
6. Only authorized delegates will then be allowed into the voting hall. This idea of all chess players turning up at AGM is completely wrong. Can you imagine all hockey players going to city park for elections. the Riot police will clobber all you little pawns and chase you back to your Rooks. Or Kasparov and Karpov going for the Russian Chess Federation AGM. Guys let us be serious.

Guys the game of chess is suffering. Sponsors are not interested in fancy documents they want to see action on the board. the silent majority want to castle long, castle short, capture, check and checkmate!

I will be sending a letter of protest to the sports council on how they have handled this affair.

Paul Maloba's take:
I must admit that it makes a really sad reading I read mail of people complaining (quite positive) but shy away when it comes to forging the way forward (yaliyopita si ndwele).
problem two with us comes with walking the talk!! which is most important.

These ideas are brilliant, I hope whatever office in place will not forget them. also in addition to Ambasi's ideas below...

Goals would include the following:

i) When do we target to have a Grand Master? How much do we think it will take. If we are to seek sponsorship for the same, how much would we be asking for?

ii) Revival of the national league,

iii) Chess in schools

iv) coverage of Chess in the press.

v) having international arbiters from Kenya

vi) making Chess an employer.

When an incumbent offices focuses on such issues then we will make great progress

what I disagree with you however is the tagging of this idea to the incumbent office. Expecting this office to act in my opinion will be a tall order, this year we have seen very little (at least junior championships haven't suffered as much- lets just hope there will be continuity and they'll grow to be strong GMs).

Leadership takes ownership and working with the team (in office), marshaling resources to see ideas through. I was really saddened by the cancellation of Neils tournament, together with Magana we tried making sense of the two camps because noise that halts the game is unproductive. Whatever the reasons that CK might have had, this tournament would've been a great plus to them and more importantly to chess. My point is I doubt the current office can pull this ideas off.

Contrary to what Mehul says, the current constitution looks ok on membership, and payment of Sh.2,400 for a period of 1 year is manageable. Unfortunately the current situation is that there is zero activity, so there is no incentive to pay, but with leagues setup and frequent tournaments you are either a member or you are not a chess player! this should be the ideal situation and perhaps we should include this clause for membership qualification.

why did everyone show up for the AGM? to answer Kim, we love chess and we needed action injected, we couldn't just sit at home and expect things to be different (plus Obutu saga). but you guys were not paid up members...? yes we weren't but we are stakeholders all the same, we couldn't just complain and sit on our backs.

I greatly disagree with you Kim that you'll complain to sports council (so how will this help chess? or how will it not help chess?)- lets not forget that its such actions that stopped previous chess sponsorships, Further more the resolution to to amend the constitution was reached by members present and the current office (This was quite mature of the current office unlike th saga experienced in the past according to memoirs of Mukabi) SC was just a mediator. The idea is to improve things not to worsen them.

lastly I'd like to point out the obsession of Mehul to Kim and Rodriguez, yes they had success in tournaments, but this doesn't mean that only them can do the job, they had negatives too!
In my opinion, having them run (with executive authority) tournament or league projects would be a great idea.

Otherwise the organization for the tournament on Saturday is noble, and am looking forward to flex my muscles against the high and mighty, the problem with weak tournaments is that you have the first two easy rounds, two rounds that follow are fought then the last two are fixed: you actually end playing two rounds only. Perhaps next time a rating list can be used for invitation and thus Khaduli, Me (I applied for a wild card),George Mwangi,Jonah,Isoe... etc wouldn't be missing and thus make it stronger.


An effortless 20-move draw against Peter Leko clinched it: Indias's Viswanathan Anand won the World Championship in Mexico City 2007 to become the undisputed World Chess Champion.


More info:
Susan polgars blog

offical website