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

Friday, May 9, 2008


With Mehul annotating games using a foreign language that has terminologies like; zug zwang, zetnoit, Bogoljubow, siccilian hyper accelerated dragon and Nguku-Cann defence, I thought it would be best for me to explain in plain English what really happened on Labor Day weekend.

Part 1; Slaughter of the lambs (games 1-15)

“By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way come” William Shakespeare

After the boys had been separated from the men, the top ten Kenyan players met at the KCB sports club in Nairobi from may 1 to may 4 to decide who will represent Kenya in the Dresden Olympiad. So many pretenders to the crown had emerged with every player going back to his “kitchen chess analysis room” to prepare for this event.

The likes of Githinji hinga and James Apiri were seeking to upset the order book by causing a few surprises or even qualifying. But the real big story was who among the big fish was going to be left out? With the entry of peter Gilruth the Kenyan chess equation has been radically altered. The Kenyan big fish now consisted of the two Bens and Gilruth. Mehul Gohil was seeking to make his debut at the world stage and by the way he was playing in the past few months he looked like a sure bet to make it.

After a short stint away from top class chess, Ken Omollo and Nathan Ateka were seeking to bounce back big time. The ‘old dogs’ of Kenyan chess John ‘the beast’ Mukabi and Martin Gateri were seeking to continue with their never ending vendetta of playing in as many Olympiads as possible.

So the stage was set for the strongest tournament of the year. With most players firing fritz and shredder all night to try and unravel novelties, what would really make the tournament is a myriad of blunders and failure to spot them. Master pieces were also on display with Nguku’s cool headed win in his first game and Gohils end game win with rook and bishop against rook being the most outstanding.

Tactical shots were on plenty with gateris Qxh3! against apiri being the most outsanding. Gilruth’s failure to win in his game against Magana is still a mystery; if he was not in time trouble then he threw away a chance to collect a free point.

So let us now take a look at the games and how they shaped the tournament. Mehul has annotated some of the games and I will be quoting his annotations in some games.
Martin Gateri
Day 1: 1-05-08
Round 1
“You need to play chess like a combination of a monk and a beast of prey” Alexander Alekhine

Githinji – Apiri: After Githinji spend his precious time working out the French defence he unleashed 1..e6 against Ben Magana. According to mehul, Githinji had never played the French in competitive chess before. Playing the French against the man who is said to know 100 mating positions in the French was no easy task. He immediately surrendered the lethal black bishop and with it the game. Magana unleashed a tactical shot with 17. Bxf6 and followed up the romance smoothly with a well prepared attack.

Gilruth –Apiri: The game seesawed in favour of Apiri for sometime before Apiri showed suicidal tendencies in regard to white’s b pawn which eventually killed him. Apiri could have won the game with 24...Bg5+ but his lack of killing instinct came to Gilruths’s rescue. Gilruth did not return any favours and when the game swung his way he sealed Apiri’s fate with no mercy.

Nguku-Mukabi: This is what Mehul described as KISS (keep it simple stupid) no tactical fireworks, no major drama just plain self explanatory chess. Nguku’s cool headed display shows his chess mental maturity. On the other hand the beast was fighting extinction, with hallucination moves like 15..f6? Days may be nigh for the beast.

Ateka- Gateri: This game featured the award winning move 30. Nd2??. A classic masterpiece of chess oversight, under sight and everything in between. Ateka honorably enters the hall of shame of Kenyan recorded chess history.

Gohil-Omollo: This completed the first round. After Mehul used all the silicon monsters he could find to prepare for the Bogoljubow whatever that is he came out of the opening with an advantage and Omollo’s king swimming with the sharks (remember Kalamashaka song DC “…unaswim na mashark na lyrics zako zina sound kaa jingle…) naturally. But then came Mehuls virtuoso move 15. Nxe6?? 0-1. recommended reading for mehul; “romance in chess; how to patiently seduce the king”

At the end of the first round the big cats were devouring prey like real carnivores. The likes of Mehul were going down the food chain and turning to herbivores. Could they mutate?
Ben Nguku
Round 2

Gateri-Gohil: Mehuls attacking instincts came into full play in this game. He had gateri in the ropes for a while before he saw a non existent mate and played 25…Rc2 but Gateri replied with the cool 26. Rxg4. Perpetual check did save him at the end of the century.

Mukabi- Ateka: The beast bid to fight off extinction got off to a smooth start. He attacked Ateka like a T-rex before time took its toll. After the suicidal 34. Bd4 Ateka never let the chance slip and seemed to have placed the last nail on T-rex coffin.

Apiri – Nguku: Nguku played another positional masterpiece. He got little advantages exploited them and won. What more can you say.

Gilruth- Magana: The clash of the top two proved to be a classic! Right? Wrong. After Magana exploited the h file Gilruth used his central pawns for a successful counter attack going a piece up in the endgame. But wonder of all wonders the game ended in a draw. Was Gilruth in time trouble? If not how did it end in a draw.

Hinga – Omollo: The French seem to favour Githinji. After unleashing his Bb4+? Novelty against Kenyan number uno in round one, Ken Omollo taught him how to play the black side of the French. Omollo unleashed a series of outstanding tactical shots Githinji handled pretty well but as every school boy knows the gods have placed the endgame after the middlegame or the other way round whichever comes first. After 27…Nxd4 the game entered a tactical phase with Omollo emerging two pawns up with 35…Rxh2.

By the end of the first day the first day Kenyan chess maestros were laughing all the way home while the pretenders went back to their analysis laboratories and read “how to become a grandmaster over the weekend” overnight.

Mehul "the assasin" Gohil
Day 2: 2-05-08
Round 3

“Playing chess is a sign of a gentleman, playing chess really well is a sign of a mind gone wrong”

Gilruth – Hinga: The food chain competition was getting really ugly. After 2 looses in a row Githinji was seeking to make amends by devouring the top animal in the food chain; Gilruth. The near impossible task proved impossible for Hinga for After 31. Nxf7 he did not bother to analyze complications that came with the knight capture. The chain of command was restored.

Nguku – Magana: The second of the big boys match up. Magana’s attacking prowess and nguku’s defensive inefficiencies settled the match early. Nguku is an attacker and it seems he has no clue about defence.

Ateka –Apiri: Apiri continued being the fodder of the tournament. Every tom with a dick in a hurry was collecting points left right and wherever else they wished to.

Gohil – Mukabi: Every school boy knows……. Well you can’t call the beast every school boy but the tiger or is it liger carried out a plan that was so effective Mukabi did not have a defence against it. The monstrous e pawn proved the winner. How can a tiger demolish a Trex? Bxg7 1-0.

Omollo – Gateri: The good, the bad and yes the ugly. They have been this entire rave about GM draws but FM draws? This is the beginning of many accepted draws. Probably the fighting spirit is over for these two old adversaries. Let them go to Germany and offer a draw to Kramnik at this position on any color and they will wonder how much chess is magic.

At the end of the third round just like the second round “ unaswim na mashark na lyrics zako zina sound kaa jingle”. Hinga, Apiri and Mukabi were offering anyone who wished free points. Gilruth, Magana and Omollo were showing no mercy. Gateri, Nguku, Ateka and Gohil were not sure wether to go up or down.

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