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

Friday, May 9, 2008


How chess is helping reconciliation in Kenya

By Edwin Korir

During the months of January and February this year Kenya experienced a period of turmoil never seen in its 45 year post-independence history. After the controversial announcement of the 2007 presidential elections violence erupted across the country leaving in its wake more than 1000 dead and 350,000 displaced.

In one of the most peacefull country in africa, violence of unprecedented magnitude errupted

scenes from january

A peace accord brokered by former UN secretary general Koffi Anan restored normalcy. On Labor Day weekend Chess Kenya organized a chess tournament to select a team for the chess Olympiad to be held in Dresden, Germany later this year. The tournament was a great success; both in chess terms and in efforts to bring the country back to its feet.

koffi annan brokered the peace deal between raila odinga and mwai kibaki

When Nigel Short visited Kenya a few years back, he posted in his report that appeared in chessBase a picturesque country renowned for its animals, hospitable people and cool environment. Although he wondered whether Karen Blixen who wrote out of Africa ever studied chess in her Ngong hills home, he was impressed by the local chess crowd that turned out to play blitz games against him.

nigel short plays chess games aganaist local players

Chess in Kenya is not a big sport. Kenya is renowned for long distance athletics and names such as Paul Tergat, Kipchoge Keino and Cathrine Ndereba are more often than not the face of Kenya to the outside world. The great wildebeest migration, the only snow capped mountain lying on the equator and the Great Rift Valley are other things that Kenya is famous for.

kenya is more known for athletics than chess

But chess is alive and kicking. Last weekend Chess Kenya organized the final phase for qualification to the Dresden Olympiad. After months of turmoil and instability, the Kenyan chess fraternity got together and put their differences apart to play in this tournament. The tournament involved 10 of the best players in Kenya playing in a round robin event and at stake were 5 slots to play in the Olympiad. The competition was tense, the games were exciting and the mood was jovial proving that Kenya was at last returning to being one of the most peaceful countries in Africa.

Nathan Ateka in blue

Martin Gateri

Ben magana

Kenyan Olympiad qualifiers final standings
1 Peter Gilruth 2278 7/9
2 Ben Magana 2286 6.5/9
3 Ken Omollo 2182 6/9
4 Martin Gateri 2181 6/9
5 Ben Nguku 2272 5. 5/9
6 Mehul Gohil 2186 5. 0/9
7 Nathan Ateka 2234 4. 5/9
8 John Mukabi 2160 2.0/9
9 Githinji Hinga 2089 2.0/9
10 James Apiri 2107 0.5/9
The top 5 qualified for the Olympiad.

Selected games
(27) Apiri,James (2107) - Gateri,Martin (2181) [B92]
Kenyan Olympiad Qualifier’s 03.05.2008
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 e5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.Be3 Be7 9.0-0 0-0 10.f3 d5 11.Nxd5 Nxd5 12.exd5 Qxd5 13.Qe1 Qc6 14.Rc1 Nd7 15.Kh1 Rae8 16.Qf2 f5 17.c4 f4 18.Bd2 Bf5 19.Bc3 Qh6 20.Rfd1 Bh4 21.Qf1 Bg3 22.h3 Nf6 23.Nc5 b6 24.Nd3 e4 25.Ne5 exf3 26.Bxf3 Ne4 27.Bxe4 Bxe4 28.Nf3 Rf7 29.Kg1 Rfe7 30.Bb4 Re6 31.Rd7 Bc6 32.Rc7 Re2 33.Bc3 Bf2+ 34.Kh1 34...Qxh3+! Gateri now unleashes a tactical shot
35.gxh3 Bxf3+ 36.Qg2 Bxg2+ 37.Kxg2 Be3+ 38.Kf3 Bxc1 39.Rxg7+ Kf8 40.Rxh7 R2e3+ 41.Kf2 R8e6 42.h4 Rg3 43.Rh8+ Kf7 44.Rh7+ Ke8 45.Rg7 Be3+ 0-1

(18) Apiri,James (2107) - Gohil,Mehul (2186) [B03]
Kenyan Olympiad Qualifier’s 02.05.2008

1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.c4 Nb6 4.d4 d6 5.f4 dxe5 6.fxe5 Bf5 7.Nf3 e6 8.a3 Nc6 9.Be2 Be7 10.0-0 0-0 11.Kh1 f6 12.Bf4 fxe5 13.Bxe5 Nxe5 14.Nxe5 Bf6 15.Nc3 c5 16.dxc5 Bxe5 17.Qxd8 Raxd8 18.cxb6 axb6 19.Rfe1 Rd2 20.Bf3 Bd4 21.Rad1 Bxc3 22.bxc3 Rfd8 23.Rxd2 Rxd2 24.g4 Bd3 25.Rxe6 Bxc4 26.Rxb6 Rd3 27.Bxb7 Rxc3 28.Rb4 Be6 29.a4 Ra3 30.Bc6 Kf7 31.Kg2 Kg6 32.h4 Kf6 33.Kh2 h6 34.Rb7 Bxg4 35.Rb6 Ke5 36.Rb2 g5 37.hxg5 hxg5 38.Re2+ Kd6 39.Re4? Bf3 40.Rc4 Bxc6 41.Rg4 Ra2+ 42.Kg1 Ke5 43.Rxg5+ Kf4 A typical 'book' end game has arisen. But Gohil’s understanding is quite good. 44.Rg8 Bd5 45.Rf8+ Kg3 46.Kf1 Bf3 47.Rg8+ Bg4 48.Ke1 Kf4 49.a5 Bf3 50.a6 Ke3 51.Re8+ Be4 52.Rd8 Rxa6 53.Rd2 Bf3 54.Re2+ Kf4 55.Re7 Ra2 56.Re8 Be4 57.Rd8 Ke3 0-1

(10) Magana,Ben (2286) - Gilruth,Peter (2278) [B13]
Kenyan Olympiad Qualifiers's 01.05.2008

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.Bd3 Nc6 5.c3 Nf6 6.Bf4 Bg4 7.Qb3 Na5 8.Qa4+ Bd7 9.Qc2 Qb6 10.Nd2 Bb5 11.Ngf3 e6 12.0-0 Be7 13.Ne5 Rc8 14.Ndf3 0-0 15.Rad1 Bxd3 16.Rxd3 Nc4 17.Bc1 Qc7 18.Re1 b5 19.Ng5 Bd6 20.Rh3 Nxe5 21.dxe5 Bxe5 22.Nxh7 Rfe8 23.Nxf6+ Bxf6 24.Qh7+ Kf8 25.Be3 b4 26.Bd4 e5 27.cxb4 Qc1 28.Rhe3 g6 29.Bc5+ Rxc5 30.bxc5 Qxc5 31.Rc3 Qb4 32.Qh6+ Kg8 33.Qc1 e4 34.Rb3 Qa5 35.Rd1 d4 36.Qc6 Re6 37.Qc8+ Kg7 38.Rb8 Kh6 39.Qf8+ Bg7 40.Qxf7 Rf6 41.Qb3 e3 42.fxe3 Qf5 43.h3 Qf2+ 44.Kh1 dxe3 45.Re8 e2 46.Rxe2 Qxe2 47.Qd5 Rf1+ 48.Rxf1 Qxf1+ 49.Kh2 Qe2 50.h4 Be5+ 51.Kh3 Qe3+ 52.Qf3 Qxf3+ 53.gxf3 . The position is clearly won for black. 1/2-1/2

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