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

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Kenya Loses to Dutch team In Internet Match

By Mehul Gohil

What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?
- Vincent Van Gogh (Dutch painter and genius)

I thought I'd use Van Gogh qoutes rather than Ngugi Wa Thiongo ones since the Kenya Simbas lost by a nightmarish Fischeresque margin of 6-0. We were simply outplayed, outmanouvered, outthought, outprepared but maybe not outorganised! Some players thought that there was probably a game going on at a 'Board 7' between NCC organisers (led by Simba Kim) and Wagenignen ones (Led by Warrior Mr. Stap) and therefore Kenya got a consolation score of 6-1...sounds much better than 6-0!!

It's great we did attempt this thing despite the humiliating loss over the board. One thing for sure, the players learnt valuable lessons and it helped us understand where Kenyan chess stands, that the 'Top Dogs' are only strong relative to weak Kenyan standards. More events like this on at least a semi-regular basis and we are on our way to getting the master norms...more on the games below.

But I do not think I am exegerrating when I say this chess event was probably one of the finest ever staged in Kenya. The venue was set up beautifully. Big demo boards lined up in front , boards + laptops arranged on both sides of the room, seating arrangement for spectators, nice lunch, blazing Safaricom banners, air conditioned room, crash of media people...they were sticking those cameras into our faces when we had losing positions...political celebrities (commisioner of sports checked in...what he saw definitely impressed him), hotel patrons, a side rapid event thrown in, refreshments, good prizes etc. Everything you could wish for in a tournament, it was pure class. (There should be pictures getting posted on the forum) This must happen again!

Great things are not done by impulse but by a series of small things brought together. -Vincent Van Gogh

Certainly, many small organisational components had come together to make this event a success. The standard pattern in Kenyan events is one club/federation/individual setting out to do everything themselves. This Safaricom sponsored thing was a break from tradition. Many different people and clubs put their hands together to make this thing happen and blossom in a spectucular manner. It goes to show it is possible to get big important things done without any help coming from CK (More on me taking potshots at CK in the 'Gossip & Rants' section below :P). It goes to show there is an alternative to the current chess mess we have in the country. It shows the rest of us can get the job done if CK can't.

In no particular order these are some of the people & clubs who made it happen (I might have left some out):

Philip Singe - Provided the demo boards which was critical to the ambience of the main venue. It clearly gave the event a professional touch. Singe also took some classy photographs which will be of great use pretty soon. Maybe he is the best chessplayer -photographer we have in the country?! lol!

Shiko - She was the brains behind the media operation. She's got the networking and she managed to pull in multiple media houses for this event. It's long since chess in Kenya got TV, Newspaper and Radio attention. Strangest thing...Shiko doesn't know how the pieces move!

Isaac Babu of KCB club - Great of him to take on the personal initiative of managing and arbitrating the Rapid event. Clearly, Kim was already stretched with the main event and Babu did a good job of helping out. By the way this maybe the only Kenyan event to feature two International Arbiters as TD's (other being Kim).

Surabaya & Auntie Cecilia - Where would the forum be without these two Kenyan chess legends? With their devastatingly colourful forum language they did a fantastic job of keeping everyone hooked to the KCF Soap Opera and ushered in the October 3rd event in dramatic style. No one can do it like them.

Checkmates Club, Mombasa Club and Kabete Cares - Goerge Mwangi co-organised the rapid with Babu. Johnah represented Mombasa club with his particpiation in that event and so did Moses of Kabete cares. We sometimes forget what an important component players and spectators are.

The weak players on the Kenya Simbas team - This includes me...though I had to 'sacrifice' my game to handle 'IT details' that cropped up (more below)...yes we were weak but we played for Kenya and represented Kenya to the best we could under the circumstances. Whatsmore without us there was no event!

Antony & Safaricom - Without them their wouldn't have been an event either! Thanks for the sponsorship guys. With what they gave us prizes were given as follows - 10k to each of the six main players (in addition to this Wageningen Chess Club sponsored Playchess accounts for each of them), 10k to the winner of the Rapid event, 1.5k to the subs (Johnny, Steve and Singe), and 5k each as a contribution to helping out other fellow clubs - Checkmates, Mombasa and Kabete Cares. Other details will appear when kim releases accounts at end month.

Dr. Nikolai Van Beek - After the event he became 'Nikolai Van Beer' as he hosted the Kenya team and some fans to some brown bottle action at Pizza Garden. This was the father of the whole idea. I don't how he managed to pull of things like Jan Timman, IM Afek and the other strong guys. What he did was amazing. Back in the Netherlands this event was big. Can you imagine a Kenyan chess event causing a stir nationwide in Holland? Kenyan chessers owe a big thank you to Dr. Nikolai.

Kim Bhari - Possibly the hardest working man in Kenyan chess. 80-90% of all the organisational responsibility lay on his shoulders. He defused a potential 'CK sabotage bomb' with his diplomacy (see gossip and rants below)...if it was me in his place I would have shoved armed bazookas up the a$$es of those CENSORED CENSORED. This guy worked the hardest out of anyone there, player or spectator or organiser. My hat's off to him.

Steve Ouma - He won the Rapid event. That must like the 100th rapid event in a row he has won. Congrats, next time he will have to be on the Kenya Simbas team to face dutch heat. But beside that I must appreciate Steve for his genuine compliments on how the event was organised. It wasn't like the fake unfelt speech his Sec Gen colleague delivered. He may have been the 'only olololo to have manhandled Mehul' as a famous forumater put it but I respect the guy as he had the balls to come up to me privately and say what was true. And he was honest about it.

Jacaranda Hotel Management - Wonderful hotel...an ideal location to express the romance of chess. Maybe we have discovered an ideal chess venue for important events. Ambience was smashing. But they are culprits as well. At the Safari Cafe, the guys gave us this stupendously sumptous buffet lunch...the effect was to fatten the Kenya Simbas for a dutch slaughter...at least now we have an excuse for poor performance!

Spectators on the ground, on the forum and on playchess - Chessdrummer, Niels, Ateka, Wanyama, Hesbon, Wachania and others....it was great to see support on playchess, the forum and main hall from friends. We could see you online. Sorry for letting you guys down! Next time we'll do better! It was kind of embarrasing to see Strong Wanyama looking into us with our weak positons...in a way you guys put us under a little more pressure! lol! Also guys like Johnny were prowling around putting our games under the microscope. Certainly a different feeling from a normal tournament. Our opponents were thousands of miles away but the tension was clear for all spectators to see.

Even the knowledge of my own fallibility cannot keep me from making mistakes. Only when I fall do I get up again. -Vincent Van Gogh

The Kenya Simbas team was clearly no match for this ultra-strong dutch side. I think something may have been possible on Boards 3-6 but it just showed that more effort will be needed to brush up key elementary skills...precise calculation of short variations and basic strategy. Plus what we thought was the main Kenyan strength - tactics - proved to be illusory. We were treated to an exhibition of high quality tactical play and precision in calculation from the dutch side. Another thing, our openings needs major reworking and study. In my game I was playing the book lines but some slight deviation from my opponent left me flummoxed and I fell victim to a brilliant tactical shot Bc7!! Gosh...that came out of nowhere. Our opponents played very well indeed, even on the lower boards, and they deservedly won.

But this does not mean the end of the road. One thing all six of us distinctly felt once games were over was the feeling of revenge. We definitely want another shot. This is not the end for sure. It's amazing how playing against strong players you quickly realise what areas of your game need improvement. In a sense some of us felt given a second chance and good preparation we have a chance. I think 3-4 such events in a year will considerably improve 'top dog' playing standards and Kenyan chess in general. Having these sort of events organised at home would easily make us better prepared for international tornas. As per the Van Gogh quote above we can get up again and keep trying. Only way we will improve. It is now great that this critical absence of strong opposition for Kenyan chess is now being remedied thanks to the efforts of local clubs.

Now for a brief outline of what happened in each individual game...I guess some players will give their own takes on this. Plus Timman said he will annotate his game against Magana.

Magana - Timman - I thought Magana should have been a little more agressive coming out of the opening..he let the situation slide into positional/endgame realms and Timman's technique was just too good. Maybe Timman didn't even need to think at all on some moves and was playing simply on reflex because he had a big time advantage over Magana. But this is scary for us other Kenyans in local events...Magana will now be stronger in postional/endgame chess!! I will throw in an interesting thing in here because Magana told me it would not be appropriate for the chessbase/chessdrum artcles I will prepare, but since this is the allmighty forum here goes: A few days before the game with Timman, Magana asked Mr. Nigel Short on facebook what was his advise for tackling the might dutch legend. I will not quote the unbelievable reply from Short exactly but he said something to the effect that Magana should go in for wild tactical position because Timman's hallucinogenic (aka 'smoke') past have probably left him unable to calculate as well as he used to!!

Afek - Gilruth - This was the dutch showpiece. I think Afek played even better then Timman. Gilruth was completely torn apart after one small mistake. It was a massacre. Gilruth just did not see the ball. It's scary to see Kenya No.1 dismantled like this.

Nguku - Van Eijk - This game was Kenya's only hope. It was a massively complicated Sicilian Najdorf. Nguku was playing the game of his life...he is real good in these attacking positions...he missed the killer Rf6! but even then the fight was raging. Unfortunately he completely forgot about his clock and lost on time!! The final positon with unsual material balance on both sides is arguably drawable for Nguku. Analysis will show. This was clearly the best Kenyan effort.

Fred Jonker - Gohil - Unfortunately, I was unable to do justice to my game. I had prepared the opening well but 40 minutes into our match some boards started having technical problem with the internet connections. Apparently three laptops had the firewall on and this was making them log off Playchess. The arbiter in holland was gracious enough to restart the games, the players blitz to the current position and then continue. That was real cool of them. I thought a guy like Timman would get pissed off but he gingerly obliged. This incdent happened twice and eventually we managed to sort it all out but it completely messed my concentration in the game and by the time I got back to my board I was down to my last 15 minutes or so. I made mistakes like a premature b5 and Rd8 allowing Bc7!!. What I learnt was that you cannot mix organising and playing! Next time I will stick to only playing. But that said, my opponent was deadly precise in converting his advatage. His style is real neat.

Githinji - Ooerbeek - Like Magana, Githinji did not play according to his flamboyant style. He went in for an insipid exchange french. Things got boring. Githinji mistakenly thought he had a draw and in the end had no clue why he lost!! This was definitely a lesson for Githinji on the art of strategic chess. He did not guess the final black plan of swinging the king over to the q-side. At least the game had the positive effect of making him realise he has to change his attitude to how he looks at some positions.

Hotze-Akello - Akello did some strange things in the opening and white made the position explode with e6!! This was a wild game. Very strange things happened in it. I think Akello in the endgame that resulted may have had the better chances but lost the thread somewhere down the line.


This section deals mainly with a psuedo CK attempt to 'sabotage bomb' the event 48 hrs before it was to start. Now we all know that CK is generally unresponsive to mails sent to them. They never reply. So on Thursday afternoon one of the members of the NCC organising comitee (Kim) gets a call asking him 'for a meeting' on Friday 12 noon. At the meeting NCC is asked question like "How comes we were not invited and this is a big event?", "How was this Kenya team selected and on what basis", "Why is a government official invited to the event and we have not been?" "Why are you criticising us on the forum?" "Do you have plans to set up a parrallel chess organisation?" etc etc Basically some kind of interrogation headed by one Congambit. Probably wanting kick backs or afraid that NCC is somehow working in cahoots with some government officials to bring them down. Like we are interested. It is ok for them to never respond but anybody else must respond to them. Plus, how is it that a private event organised by a private club needs to have the approval of a national body before it as much as moves a piece? Furthermore, why contact Kim when Nikolai and Myself were the real creators of this event? Clearly, it's easier to deal with Kim then Mehul. Easier to bully? And why wait until the eleventh hour before CK reacts to all this? What were they doing a week before? Two weeks before? A month before?

Furthermore a whole bevy of CK officials turned up for this meeting...more than the number which came to see the event. Were they this scared of getting their thunder stolen? Who is stopping CK from organising their own big events? I just goes to show that if more CK officials turn up for a meeting that is basically an interogattion of a well meaning chess organiser than the number of who turned up to spectate the event....you then know where CK priorities lie.

It is also notable that the CK chairmam failed to turn up even as a spectator (he was invited for lunch with the team, sponsors other dignitaries) to one of the biggest chess events in Kenyan history. That is telling.

Kenya To Play Dutch Team In Internet Chess Match

Kenya is set to play Wageningien Chess Club in the first ever internet match
Chess lovers in Kenya will on 3rd October 2009 be able to follow the first ever internet match on Kenyan soil.

6 top Kenyan players christened “Kenyan Simbas” will take on players from Wageningen Chess Club and who will have former World Champion contender Grandmaster Jan Tinman. Another key personality expected to play is Dutch Member of Parliament Eric Smaling who once lived in Kenya in the 1980s.

Event is being coordinated by Nairobi Chess Club

Kenyan Team To Play Dutch Team Named

The event is a first for Kenya - A chess match between one of the famous Dutch chess clubs and a select Kenyan side consisting of the best six players in the country to be held over the internet. The aim of the event is to uplift Kenyan chess standards via exposure to strong opposition in the form of International Grandmasters and Masters.

The event sponsors are Safaricom and Wageningen Chess Club (of Netherlands). The Safaricom 3G mobile internet connection will be used and will highlight the capabilities of the newly landed fibre-optic cable that will enable fast relay of chess moves over the internet. The playing portal is the Playchess site which is managed by Chessbase, the world's premier chess software distributor.

The organiser for the event is Nairobi Chess Club which is the oldest registered chess institution in the country having been active since 1958.

The Kenyan team, known as the 'Kenyan Simbas', are represented by the the six best players in the country on current form. They are:

1. Ben Magana - The most dominant Kenyan player of the 21st century. He is currently ranked 2nd in the country. Has represented Kenya internationally in 3 Olympiads (World Team Championships), the 2007 All Africa Games where he narrowly missed on a bronze medal, and in the 2007 African Chess Championships where he created one of the biggest upsets in African chess by beating Grandmaster Ahmed Adly of Egypt who is also the reigning World Junior Champion.

2. Peter Gilruth - A naturalised Kenyan he is also the country's most experienced international player. He is currently ranked No. 1 in the country and is the reigning National Champion. He is also the captain of the Kenya Simbas team.

3. Ben Nguku - Is currently ranked No. 3 in the country. His high quality of play has attracted the analytical interest of some of the foremost chess specialists in the world. One of his games from the 2004 Chess Olympiad in Turin, Italy was of such class that Grandmaster Nigel Short (who challaged Gary Kasparov for the World Championship in 1993) analysed it in depth for the Daily Telegraph's famous chess column.

4. Mehul Gohil - He is probably the strongest player to have never represented the country internationally. Locally, he has a reputation for being among the fastest thinkers of the game.

5. Githinji Hinga - He is the fastest rising talent inn Kenya at the moment. A welcome addition ot the Kenyan elite his electrifying style of play is eye-catching.

6. Akello Atwoli - Over the last 2 years Akello has established himself as one of the most succesful local tournament players. He has also improved very fast and was the best Kenyan performer at the All Africa Games of 2007.

The team Kenya Simbas will be facing are the Wageningen Chess Club who have on their team none other than Grandmaster Jan Timman and International Master Afek. Jan Timman is one of the acknowledged legends of the game. He has won the tough Dutch chess championships a record nine times. In 1979, a string of impressive international tournament victories propelled him to the World No.2 spot behind then World Champion Anatoly Karpov. Later on he even challenged for top honours against Karpov in their 1993 World Championship match. Jan Timman is also considered one of the best opening theoreticians of the chess world and has authored several classic chess books.

Wageningen chess club will constitute the strongest challenge Kenyan players have ever face

Dutch Club Wageningen Announces Team To Play Kenya

Wageningen Chess Club have announced a strong line up against the Kenya Simbas in this historic event that is scheduled for 3rd October 2009.

The players are:

Board 1:

Grand Master Jan Timman - He is the former world number 2 and played a match with Anatoly Karpov for the FIDE World Title. Timman won the Dutch Championship nine times. He has for the past two years he played for Wageningen in the National League.

Board 2:

International Master Yochanan Afek – Mr Afek is from Israel and has lived in Holland for a number of years. Afek is a famous endgame composer. He trains a number of chess clubs in Holland and for Wageningen he is both trainer and player.

Board 3:

Chess Master Sander van Eijk - A young and attacking player. Last year he scored his first IM norm. After being a chess professional for one year, he now restarted his studies in Law.

Board 4:

Fred Jonker - A very tactical player. Six years ago he became regional champion and thus played in the semi-final of the Dutch Championships. Jonker works at Wageningen University.

Board 5:

Erwin Oorebeek - A player with a good knowledge of the opening. Oorebeek is a strong correspondence chess player.

Board 6:

To be announced later. There is a high possibility that this place will be taken by Eric Smaling who lived in Kenya in the 1990s and is now a member of Parliament.

The Kenya Simbas line is expected to be announced tomorrow

Safaricom are the main sponsors and are proud to be associated with this historic event that comes a few weeks after the landing of the fibre optic cable in Mombasa. The central technological platform of this event will be Safaricom's 3G mobile internet connection.

The interface is the popular site www.playchess.com which will enable chess enthusiasts to follow the game wherever they are in the world! It is also most likely that there will be a live commentary, which can be read online as the games are being played.

Monday, August 17, 2009

My First Tournament

My first tournament

In January 2004, I played my first tournament. Today, I read my diary and it was de ja vu, back then Atwolli<> could not play in any event, I used to crash him like a cat. Here now is the non-edited version of the events at my first chess tournament.

2nd veteran pharmaceutical open chess championships 22 to 23, 2004 Jan, Aga khan sports club.

I first heard about the veteran pharmaceutical open championships when I read the Monday standard on a report where Nigel short played blitz games against local players. The excitement of playing in full strong tournament was so high that I could not believe it. The idea of meeting Mathew kanegeni and the likes and giving them a run for their money was unbelievable.

My initial preparation was not that good; I downloaded a few games and planning material and made a 4-day crash course that I did not fulfill. When I left for Nairobi as Burnt Forest chess king on 21st I was sure I was going to walk way with 6-0.


I spent most of the day traveling and looking for the Aga khan sports centre. After getting lost, I finally found it and knew the registration was going to happen the next day. So after many years of playing chess I was about to play in my first ever tournament.


I arrived at the Aga khan sports centre before 8, not knowing the chess Kenya protocol, I had had to wait for some minutes before the officials arrived. As guys started arriving, I caught my first glimpse on john Mukabi. The “guys” started playing blitz and analysis; the deep understanding they had of the game amazed me. As the draw was made, I was given a dream pairing just like Man u playing Exeter in the FA cup fourth round, it wad Mathew Kanegeni vs. Edwin Korir in Board.

EVENT: Veteran pharmaceutical open chess championships

SITE: Aga Khan Sports Centre

DATE: 22nd to 23 Jan 2005

WHITE: Mathew Kanegeni

BLACK: Edwin Korir

OPENING: Siccilian Najdorf with f4.

  1. e4 ( after months of preparing for the Sicilian , here was my chance to play my best aganaist the best) 1…c5
  2. Nf3 d6
  3. d4 cxd4
  4. Nxd4 Nf6
  5. Nc3 a6
  6. Be2 ( the first variation and instead of replying to the moves he plays, my heart is beating, I am so excited and u have used less than a minute so far. May lack of tournament experience is surely showing) 6…e5
  7. Nb3 Be7 (I always initially play Be6 before this move, whether it was fear or not I could not tell but it proved to be a novelty.)
  8. 0-0 0-0 run away from trouble if you can
  9. f4? The move I have always detested, apart from Qc7 I don’t know how to handle it. It was going to be a long day. …Be6

starting off from here are the losing moves, apart from wasdting time this move does nothing at all. My plan was to accelerate thr f5 move so I could play Bd7 but that was not to be. The best plan here is 9…Bd7 10. a4 exf4 11. Bxf Ne5 getting an outpost which white will gladly exchange removing my isolsted pawn and leading to a pretty drawn position.

  1. Be3 Qc7
  2. a4 Bxb3? Bad move no doubt, it opens up the c file for white to usr.
  3. cxb3 Nbd7
  4. Rc1 Qa5
  5. Qd1 Rac8 the losing move. Failure to analyse, plan and adrenalin combines to bring this disastrous ending.
  6. Nd5 Qxd1
  7. Nxe7 Kh8
  8. Rxd1 Nxe5
  9. Rc7 Nc5
  10. fxe5 Nxb3
  11. Bf3 Nbd2
  12. Bxd2 Nxd2
  13. exd5 h6
  14. d7 Rd
  15. Rc8 Nxf3
  16. gxf3 Rxc8
  17. dxc8 >Q Kg7


Friday, July 17, 2009

Michael Jackson: A Tribute

By Edwin Korir

A genius? No doubt.

From a young boy born in Gary Indiana; singing Ben for his rat pet in 1972 to teaming with Quincy Jones to produce Thriller the best selling album of all time then trying to find his childhood in Neverland but eventually his facial surgeries, a skin ailment, serious weight loss, and god knows what else made him look like both a vampire and a mummy.

That was MJ, the musical genius who eventually turned to be a freak just like Bertrand Russell or Leo Tolstoy. I did not at first enjoy MJ’s songs but when I was in F1 back some time, I heard just bit it witch made me enjoy his songs. Eventually I started listening to his songs and billle jean and the way you make me feel made me feel like I was a teenager in the 80’s. His musical genius is unquestionable but like all other geniuses his social life was not exemplary.

Wacko Jacko as the British tabloids called him changed the music world, he transcended race before tiger woods, Oprahy Winfrey, and finally Barrack Obama. My friend Samuel Chebii must have been devastated for apart from his chess has lost his two favorite musicians in a year; Lucky Dube and now MJ.

For a while he was “king of pop” no two hours in classic 100 would go with out a MJ song playing. No soul night at the Simba Saloon in Carnivore would be complete with out one of his songs. Before MJ came James Brown and The Beatles after him, there is none. Changing from a handsome black man to an old white woman one has to ask which was more imaginative his music or his persona.

This young black kid who made his name with the Jackson Five eventually married Elvis Presley daughter and bought the Beatles song catalogue which meant every time one of their tunes was played he received half the royalty.

He made trademarks of the music industry; his dances especially his moonwalk, his jeweled glove and his record setting sales made him Mwenyewe. He acquired a 2,700acre ranch with funfair and zoo attached just like the Masai Mara, which he named Neverland after the fictional Nirvana of peter pan.

He sold more than 100 million albums in his solo career; Jua Cali has only sold 200,000. His tours were the biggest on the planet they averaged over 200 million per tour. However, whatever he did MJ just reenacted his dance as a central figure of long racial horror show. To the uplifting view, enunciated after his death by the likes of Rev. Al Sharptorn, he was a Tran racial icon, a black person whom whites took to their hearts and blackness came to seem incidental.

Then his darker phase began. Constantly he was confronted with charges of child molestation. He was energetic, charismatic, and supremely gifted, but sexually unassertive unlike swaggeringly black male performers from Joe to Jay Z. In 1993 MJ settled a child molestation charge for 22 million dollars and retreated to Neverland only venturing forth it seemed, for more cosmetic surgery or skin whitening treatments.

With the money he had made, he blew away more than 1 billion dollars in 20 years. Where the money went is not clear, though the 6 million dollars binge in a single store. Recorded by Martin Bashir in his 2003 documentary , suggested retail therapy on an imperial scale, even Moi wasn’t that extravagant.

This ultimately led to his financial problems, but MJ was in complete denial of the financial reality until he was shown an affidavit. In 2005, he decamped from Neverland and went to the Gulf of Aden at the invitation of the heir apparent. In 2007, the prince joined a long queue of litigants after MJ. The prince had proposed MJ to write an autobiography and compose a song for the hurricane Katrina victims to enhance MJ’s finances without him having to do anything much in public.

Everyone agrees that MJ was anything but a basket case by now. He then moved to Ireland where he prepared new tracks for the 25’Th anniversary of Thriller. He then relocated to Las Vegas where the only option of him solving his financial problems was a come back tour.

Randy Philips the CEO of AEG then set up the London tour, witch incidentally Mehul had tickets to. After what Randy called a “bony Hug” Jackson and his entourage which now consisted of one bodyguard had managed to hold on to Neverland and the Beatles song catalogue.

The come back was scheduled for London in the O2 arena where he was scheduled to perform in 50 shows. MJ’s health was now a concern his sin cancer and being pushed around in a wheel chair clutching a parasol like a mad geriatric.

MJ’s hope of a come back and that of 800’000 fans including Mehul, must have been that their thrust in pops most charismatic but accidental prone peter pan wouldn’t turn out to be a grand illusion after all.

Before that, MJ had remaked himself as American dream of innocence and belovednesss. His constant face surgeries and skin bleaches made him confusing. Just like the skeletal, pale faced zombies he danced with in thriller, when you watch it today, it appears to be a whole stage full of Michael Jackson’s, the real one now the least familiar looking, the most unreal. When he died, he was eulogized like an angel with Kobe Brayant, Al Sharptorn, Mariah Carey e.t.c.

But as an artist he was a genius, Jackson and his legendary producer Quincy Jones fused disco, soul, and pop in a manner that can be heard everyday in a station in Kenya or all across the globe. His best hits “billie jean” and “don’t stop ‘til you get enough” never sound outdated.

Then night before he died he was rehearsing for the O2 tour, people around him were wondering if he was really up to it. He was 50 years old and past his puer aeternus, he had health problems and his peak was 15 years ago.

Whatever his life felt like from the inside, it was manifestly the work of a genius, whether you want to call it a triumph or a freak show.


1958 to 2009


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Random Thoughts

1. In the recently concluded Kenya Open it was more like Nairobi open. Where are all those other players from ouside Nairobi??
2. Saif Kanini is the only player ever to win an Olympiad medal(silver) for kenya in 1980.
3. Where is Mathew Kanegeni?
Blessed june to you all

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

African chess

Check out this upcoming website by Robert Gwaze http://www.chessafrica.com/

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Kenya Open 2009

After much haggling and uncertainity the kenya open was held over Madaraka day weekend.

Dolf Beltz won the event with 6.5/7, the new comer in the kenyan chess scene trounced veteran kenyan chess players.

Gilruth, Wangombe and john mukabi on 5.5 points. Ugandan was reresented by mulambe. Mehul withdrew after round 6 when a dispute with mulambe over the touch and move rule.

Chess kenya must be commended for organizing the event although they should not ambush people with unplanned events.

25 players were selected for next phase of olympiad qualifiers.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Nairobi Chess League

Nairobi Chess League Rules(last modified 18th April 2009)

1 The Nairobi Chess League will be a team event with eight players per team. Matches will be played on four boards only. Matches will take place between January and May on a Saturday afternoon at a venue as notified to team captains. There will be two divisions, restricted to 11 teams per division. The event is open to all clubs.
2. Once a player has competed for a team in the League, that player cannot compete for another team in the same Division in the same season.
3. Board prizes will be awarded for the top players for boards 1 to 6 only. The minimum games played must be over 65% to qualify for board prizes. If 9 rounds are played then a minimum of 6 games must be played, if 10 rounds are played then 7 games
4. Prize for board 1 to 4 for ladies will be awarded based on the ratios mentioned in point 3 above. Prize for board 1 to 4 for junior player under the age of 18 will be awarded based on ratios mentioned in point 3 above.
5. A schedule will be sent to all competing teams on the Monday before the Saturday matches. The rate of play will be 45 minutes for all moves.
6.. Although the event is termed Nairobi Chess League, Rapidplay rules will apply. Except as modified by these rules, the normal FIDE Laws of chess will apply.
7. Scoring will be fully on game points. A won game will score one point, a drawn game half a point and a lost game zero points. Therefore, there are four points per team at stake on each afternoon of play. However if a team defaults for an afternoon their opponents will be awarded a 3 - 0 victory. This is to try and prevent default results having a distorting effect on the league placings. Any team defaulting on two or more afternoon matches may be expelled from the league and all their results annulled if they have played less than 50% of the games.
8. Any disputes will be settled by the organisers (or their representatives) whose decision is final. Teams are expected to compete in a spirit of fair play and cooperation. It is also hoped that the event will provide a more social opportunity than normally available through the Nairobi Chess League and that all involved will participate in making it an enjoyable event.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Sex Boycott

Kenyan women have decided to boycott sex for one week to push for reforms in the country! more

Monday, April 27, 2009

Chess Social Responsibility(CSR)

Recently the local chess community organized themselves to give back to society. The event dubbed the chess social responsibility or CSR. Purity Gachiga, Githinji Hinga and a few other chessers visited Kibera's LITTLE ROCK SCHOOL and made the children very happy. Here are a few photos of the event.

The deaf/dumb kids with their teacher(in red)

Gitinji giving the students their first chess lessons

Eldoret Chess Pictures

Geoffrey 'Eku' Dokoria emailed me this pictures of Eldoret open some time back but i have failed to post them. Enjoy

Ben Nguku relaxes when not playing and probably no blitzers were around.

George Mwangi in his usual concentrative style slugs out aganaist Magana

One of the many players who turned up to play

Chess Kenya Cancels National Championsips

By Mehul Gohil

CK have again for the millionth time not kept their word...they have postponed the national champs to December, and who knows if it will happen even then. Last year we had no national championships.

Plus, having rescheduled the first phase olympiad qualifier to the june Kenya Open event they have left those in the working class in an imbroglio...it's good to inform your HR department as to what your leave dates are. But CK's indecisiveness and disorganised timetable is of no help here. I will go for the June 1 event as I have applied for leave then but will most likely have no way to attend the 2nd part of the qualifiers. Plus, this much touted African Team Championships is in September...shouldn't the national team have been in place by now so that training can begin in earnest?? This dilly dalying will only make us weaker when the African champs arrives. Or maybe KCB team has already been designated as the national team..who knows?

I remember last week at checkmates I had a discussion with Peter Munyasi on the pros and cons of organising a parallel event over the may 1 holidays. I told him we should let CK have the benefit of the doubt and not 'sabotage' their May 1 event with a more lucrative parallel one. He expressed the opinion that CK may not even have an event. His hunch has turned out to be correct. Now all we get is a one day rapid thing. To me it's becoming apparent that when these public holidays come around we should not waste our time waiting for CK to organise something, they come up with BS time and again...we should take the matter into our own hands and organise our own stuff.

Like this December dates, I am prepared to get a tournament organised right on the same dates as this alleged Kenya champs. We can get the sponsors ourselves and have a lucrative enough prize fund. We should not waste time with CK. Next time I will listen to Peter Munyasi.

From chess Kenya to all players

> Rapid Individual/Team Chess Championship 2009
> Dates: 1st May
> Venue: West Breeze Hotel,Upperhill,Nairobi
> Registration fees: Kshs 500( free lunch for all players)
> Prize giving ceremony for the 2008/9 National Chess League will be
> held the same day at the same venue at 6pm.
> Entry form to follow shortly
> World Youth Under 16 Chess Olympiad Qualifiers/Junior
> Open
> Dates: April 25 & 26
> Venue: Oshwal Academy Nairobi Primary
> World Youth Chess Championship 2009 Final Qualifiers
> Dates: May 16 & 17
> CK Youth Committee to release info soon
> Kenya Open Chess Championship 2009
> Event will be used as the 1st phase Olympiad qualifier
> Dates: May 30,31 & June 1
> More information to follow soon
> Due to unavoidable circumstances,the National Chess Championships
> which were scheduled for the long Labour Day holiday have been moved
> to December.The revised calendar of events will be out before Monday
> Regards,

Rare Chess Stamp

Chess Leo says he has this stamp from the British virgin islands. Anyone out there with similar stamps depicting chess.

Nairobi Chess League

The Kim Bhari organized Nairobi Chess League has got underway with a great start. Here is the update.

By Kim Bhari

Still no draw. I guess I made a mistake to start with the Berger tables for only 7-8 players.

On Saturday 18 April 09 I had 8 teams and thought that was it and used 7-8 Berger tables to make a draw. Big mistake. I should have used the one for 9-10 players becasue on afternoon of 18 April I got team number 9 and then today afternoon I got team number 10!!!

You will notice the pattersn for the two tables are quite different. painful. At times the colours change for the team between tables. See team 5 and 8. the colour swaps round in the next table. My problem is that team 5 and 8 have already played. Do i make them play again??

Next complication is that we can only accomdate 8 teams per afternoon which means only 4 matches instead of 5 due to space and tables. So i have to prepare pairing cards and do the pairing for next two rounds considering the constraints. I have also asked two teams to rest tomorrow which is a third variable which means trying to go back to the berger tables is tough.

Lesson learnt

Always use a higher pairing table for league events. George Mwangi take note. I will retire soon.

7 & 8 Players

1 1:8 2:7 3:6 4:5
2 8:5 6:4 7:3 1:2
3 2:8 3:1 4:7 5:6
4 8:6 7:5 1:4 2:3
5 3:8 4:2 5:1 6:7
6 8:7 1:6 2:5 3:4
7 4:8 5:3 6:2 7:1

9 & 10 Players

1 1:10 2:9 3:8 4:7 5:6
2 10:6 7:5 8:4 9:3 1:2
3 2:10 3:1 4:9 5:8 6:7
4 10:7 8:6 9:5 1:4 2:3
5 3:10 4:2 5:1 6:9 7:8
6 10:8 9:7 1:6 2:5 3:4
7 4:10 5:3 6:2 7:1 8:9
8 10:9 1:8 2:7 3:6 4:5
9 5:10 6:4 7:3 8:2 9:1

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wanyama Wins East African Chess Championships

By James Ssekandi

Harold Wanyama 6.5pts
Patrick Kawuma 6.5pts Bob Bibasa 6 pts
Isaac Munanira 6 pts
Rajab Kamoga 6 pts

Harold Wanyama edged Bob Bibasa in the final game of the last round to win the 4th edition of the East Africa Chess Championship on Monday evening at Lugogo indoor stadium.

Wanyama tied on points with tournament surprise package and junior champion Patrick Kawuma at 6.5 out of the 8 rounds but edged the latter on a Bucholz tie break.

On his way to victory, Wanyama downed Stephen Bwire, I Bob Bibasa

van Meri, Fred Okiring, Atwooli Akello, Rajab Kamoga and Bob Bibasa. He drew with Kenya‘s Nathan Ateka and lost only once to Patrick Kawuma in a second round game that was billed as the biggest upset of the tournament.

Second-placed Kawuma beat Mohamed Omwony, Wanyama, Kenneth Ouma, Walter Okas, Simon Gonza and drew with Kenya‘s Ben Magana. He only lost to Isaac Munanira.

In the ladies category, Kenya’s Janet Rosana emerged winner in a 12 round robin competition. The Kenyan won 9 games and lost two.

Monday, April 13, 2009

University Of Nairobi Chess Championships

George Mwangi organized a very successful tournament at the university of Nairobi. Here are the results.

By George Mwangi
Once again,I would like to thank all those who took time apart to participate.Below is a summary of the winners.The REUTERS guys came as expected.They were covering Kabete CARES chess club's participation in the event.It was part of a bigger story that will take some time to be released.
I will foward some photos from the event later.
Open Category:
1.Muchai James 6.0 U.o.N
2.Obadiah Okeyo 6.0 U.o.N
3.Duncan Gichana 6.0 KCA University
Ladies Category:
1.Rehema Maria 4.0 K.U.
2.Nancy Mogire 3.0 U.o.N
Sarah Wanga 3.0 U.o.N
There were 43 participants in total with a record 7 ladies taking part,among them a 14year old Kabete CARES member,Stella.
We look foward to working the entire chess community to take chess to higher levels.

Happy Easter

I wish to take this moment to wish all my readers, friends, family and chess enthusiasts a blessed Easter.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Jedis Rant

(No other chess player has more rants and raves than Mehul Gohil, here is one of his classics posted recently in a Kenyan chess forum.)

By Mehul Gohil
It is soon becoming apparent that tournaments will one day become the privy of sponsored institutional outfits....look like you will have to be a member of KCB, NBK or some other institutional ta, if you are to afford playing in Kenyan tournaments. CK has repeatedly failed to look at creative ways to solve this ever occurring impasse. They need to find some creative way to get guys to become members. CK is pretty daft if it cannot realize that chess players are not golf players. Chess players hang around in joints like downtown pub not Muthaiga golf and country club.

I don't see why anyone would cough up 1800/= for a smallish rift valley open. I now think the 'RODRIGUEZ' idea of holding the weekly rapid mug tournaments should be implemented by CK...at least on a bi-weekly basis. Half the entry fee for these tornas can go towards paying up an individuals CK membership...I can assure CK if they did this within 2 months they would have 30-40 extra members all FULLY PAID UP via their entry fees. Rodriguez may have been swamp thing in off the board matters but clearly he knew how to bring in the kudos via tournaments, I think even johnny will agree with that one.

Furthermore, are CK even INTERESTED in guys becoming members????

I sent CK an email last week asking if I can check in my CK membership via MPESA to one of the official's phones and they can't even bother to reply. Do they want me as a member or not? What the hell is wrong with these guys? Can that fred guy come here and explain why CK is not interested in me paying up my 2400/= membership fees when I want to. Looks like CK has some pretty rotten organization skills. They should be bending over backwards to collect my membership. Looks like all this talk by Ambasi that guys should become members is turning out to be BS. I can't believe it...there you are ready to fork out money for membership and CK is not interested in taking it!!

Ouma Wins Nakuru Open

Steve Ouma finally answered his critics with a dazzling display of almost flawless chess to be crowned the Nakuru Open champ in the two day event played over the weekend at the Midland hotel,Nakuru.

Steve was paired against Wang'ombe Mugo in round five and drew against his rather stubborn opponent after having an upper hand most of the time in the game.In the final round he overcame reigning Mombasa Opem champion,Akello Atwoli to claim his first major title in his chess career spanning over 12 years.

He gannered 5.5 points but was placed ahead of Wangombe Mugo on Bulcholtz as National Bank of Kenya dominated the event taking the top two positions.

The event was sponsored by Rift Valley Machinery Services Ltd,this being the eleventh time in twelve years.The tournament attracted 30 players.

Winner's in the various categories were:


1st: Steve Ouma: 5.5 pts: NBK
2nd: Wang'ombe Mugo: 5.5 pts:NBK
3rd: Moses Andiwo: 5.0 pts: Nakuru Chess Club


1st: Janet Rosana: 3.0 pts
2nd: Elizabeth Thiaka: 2.5 pts
3rd: Rose Wabuti: 2.0 pts

Under 23 years:

Jackson Kamau: 4.0 pts
Alfansus Mwaura: 1.5 pts

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Simul Record

On Feb. 21, Kiril Georgiev of Bulgaria played 360 people simultaneously in Sofia, Bulgaria, breaking the world record for such a feat. His final score was 284 wins, 70 draws and 6 losses. The previous record holder, Andrew Martin, an English international master, had played 321 opponents at Wellington College in Berkshire, England, on Feb. 21, 2004. Susan Polgar of the United States played 326 people simultaneously at a mall in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., in August 2005, but the Guinness Book of World Records did not recognize her record as official. Read more from the New York Times

Nairobi Chess League

Kim Bahri is planning to start the first ever Nairobi chess league. Although this will not interfere with the national league, chess kenya is not enthusiastic about it. Chess Kenya chairman Andolo Ambasi has not replied any correspondence from bahri. But most chess players are enthusiastic about it and are welcoming it with a double check.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Vaishnavi Visits Vietnam

By Vaishnavi Ram Mohan

'Do you play football?' 'No.' 'Rugby? Basketball? Athletics?' No. I play chess.' ''Chess?'' followed by an incredulous look, a polite smile or the disinterested thought 'chess? How boring!!' At first look, chess seems simple enough. The objective: use any of your 16 pieces strategically to capture or checkmate your opponent's king. It would be by way of a revelation to many to know that there are as many ways of doing this as there are stars in the sky! (And I mean this literally; it has been proven that there are over a billion possible ways to checkmate an opponent) It would amaze many to learn that chess is a sport like any other and has its own rules, intricacies, tournaments, rankings and heroes. The best of these players under 18 are showcased at the prestigious World Youth Chess Championships. There are several international tournaments for juniors held each year but the climax is always the World Youth Chess Championships (or WYCC, or World Youth, as we know it in chess lingo) and it is the dream of every junior chess player to represent his/her country at this event and stage his/her bid to bring their country honours. It is an even bigger honour to host this event and each year a different country gets to bear this mantle.

Thus, on 18th November, I was in Vung Tau, Vietnam, a proud representative of Kenya and participant in the U-14Girls category at the World Youth Chess Championships 2008, held from 19th-31st October. This year, Kenya had one of its largest delegations, with 13 players. We were represented in all the categories, which are the Under 8, 10, 12, 14, 16 and 18 age groups with divisions for boys and girls respectively. It is indeed very ironic that upon return from such an event, everyone immediately demands, ''So how did it go? Did you win?'' The common perception is that playing chess is an easy way to travel abroad to play for the country and by far the easiest way to win fame as an international champion. Trust me, it is as hard to win a gold medal (or for that matter even a top fifty position) in the field of chess as it is to win in any other sport. The World Youth attracts the very best, the cream from each country. Each nation sends only its best champions, so even being there is a privilege in itself. This means that the standards are of the highest order, and painful though it is, it must be admitted that we are very far off from the medal podiums.

This year, there were over 2000 players from 73 nations. The games were spaced over 10 days and there were 11 rounds, played on the Swiss System. The playing venue was the National Sports Stadium, Vung Tau. What exactly is the common conception of a tournament hall? A small room with a few tables piled together. Picture this. A huge conference hall, with long rows of tables lined by chessboards, the walls flanked with the flags of the participating nations. Next to each board are the 'chess clocks', each player's nameplate, recording scoresheet and belongings. There are many arbiters to ensure smooth running of the rounds and games. Anxious parents and coaches fill the stands on either side of the hall, awaiting their child/charge's result. To an outsider, it is just two children sitting on opposite ends of a board. To the participants, the board number is greatly significant and shows the quality. To play on board 1, (i.e. top board) is tantamount to being declared one of the best and a matter of great pride, while playing on the lower and bottom boards is considered an indication of the poor quality of your game. A good quality game of chess does not end before three hours and actually, it is quite the norm for a game beginning at 3.00pm to end at 7.30pm. That means about four and a half hours before a board! Indeed, only someone who has been to such an event can fully grasp its enormity. All factors considered, our performance was quite respectable, with each player chipping in.

At such events, chess is like a religion. A barrier lies between us in the form of language, as most of the others do not speak much English, but we are all still bonded together. Indeed, whether you come from a country as distant as Latvia, Peru, and Iceland, if you speak the language of chess, that suffices. Nothing matters apart form your game. For example, a puny boy, wearing old jeans, suspenders and a worn, unfashionable shirt, speaking broken English may be given priority. All the parents point at him as he passes. Players hush up and whispers float, ''don't you know him, that's the GM (Grand Master; the highest achievement level in chess.) He's on top board.'' The coach will strut proudly, for that nondescript boy happens to be his charge and one of the top players. All that matters is your game and that is why countries like India (India had a sweep of the medals and won the best overall team award) and Serbia or Croatia walk with their heads held high. One night, a 'Social and Talent Night' was held, where each country had a chance to present something authentic. This was a nice chance to socialise and get to know each other better, as well as learn about different cultures. It was a great experience to meet and make new friends from all corners of the world.

Now about the host. Vietnam is the first Asian country to host the World Youth since Singapore twenty years ago. This probably explains why the hosts went out of their way to keep us (indeed all 3000+ of us) satisfied and why we were treated like royalty. It all began with a spectacular opening ceremony. We walked down the red carpet and were then treated to a series of authentic folk-dances that had everyone applauding, followed by a fashion show, which included many international models and beauties. This was capped off by a splendid and spectacular firework display that had every single one present on their feet. Several comfortable hotels had been booked just for the event. Our hotel, the KhuDuLich Bien Dong, was right by the beach, (which suited me perfectly) and while not the Burj Al Arab, it was good enough. Vung Tau is a sleepy beach resort town and is not quite one of Vietnam's major cities. Thus the arrival of over 3000 foreigners caused quite a stir and the sleepy town was soon wide awake. Banners and posters for the event were everywhere, and the tournament logo of a giant knight flanked the streets.

As a place, Vung Tau is quite pleasant. There are several large shopping malls (some can even beat our own Westgate), so it isn't like one is completely cut off from civilisation. Vung Tau is about 150km from Ho Chi Minh City, the capital ad can be reached either by road or the hydrofoil speedboat. I recommend the speedboat, as it is an unusual way of travel, and it's fun to see the boat slice through the Bien Dong. There are many hotels, so tourists can take their pick. Motorbikes are the most common form of transport and everybody owns one. There are plenty of souvenir and curio shops, and we found the prices very reasonable. This is because one Kenyan Shilling is equal to about 220Vietnamese Dong, so I felt no guilt at spending hundreds of thousands, indeed I was a millionaire!!! The people are very friendly and Vietnamese hospitality is worth experiencing. However, be warned, almost no one speaks any English!! We had to resort to extreme forms of sign language to communicate. Language does tend to be a major problem and if you ask me, it would just be easier (and quicker) to learn Vietnamese than try to communicate to them. We had many hilarious and vexing incidents ourselves so this is from experience. Food does tend to be a bit of a problem, more so if you are vegetarian. Seafood is very popular. (No surprises there) A tip to future tourists, please exercise caution when trying out regional specialities, as they may not agree with everyone. Do watch out when shopping, as with the language barrier and miscommunication, you may find yourself on the wrong end of a bargain.

Apart from the chess, we did a bit of exploring and sightseeing. There are many places worth visiting in Vung Tau. First of course, is the beach. There are many sea-activities like kite surfing, surfing and boating for water lovers. The beach is lovely although it is filled with many sea-creatures like crabs, shells and prawns crawling around. The Jesus statue is a major tourist attraction. It lies along the Nho Mountain and is so big it can be seen from all over the city. Near the statue, also on the Nho mountain is the Artillery Station, which has a collection of weaponry that is worth seeing. There are also the Binh Chau hot springs, which are like our own Bogoria. You should also not miss the Buddha Pagoda and Nirvana Temple. These are essential to get a glimpse of the local religion and culture. The weather in Vung Tau is like Mombasa, except stronger. Temperature can be from 32-40 degrees with very high humidity. Shorts are the best attire, but beware of sunburn, dehydration and heatstroke.

A lovely closing ceremony, where the winners were felicitated as the rest of us watched the fantastic performances and said our goodbyes capped off the trip. Personally, this trip opened new dimensions to me and I realised that success can come in many forms, because although I did not win anything in terms of medals, I was chose as one of the faces of the event (To tell you the truth, I am still wondering on what grounds I was chosen!!) It also felt very nice that despite my mediocre chess-playing skills, I left the tournament so popular, with many international players and coaches as my friends. (It was almost like I was an ambassador for the sport in Kenya!) I am not a newcomer to the world of chess and travel; in fact I have done this several times. Yet the excitement and experiences are different each time and it is with the same eagerness that I will always await my next trip.

Fourteen-year-old Vaishnavi Ram Mohan has made a mark for herself as an aspiring writer whose stories, articles and travelogues have been published for over five years now in newspapers both in Kenya and in India. Her recently published book "Tales From Africa" has been widely acclaimed and is seen on the shelves of book stores world over. She has had a feature done on her writing skills and creative abilities by the Young Nation. Recently, the Oshwal Community Centre invited her to share her writing experiences with young enthusiasts as part of a story-reading session of her book.

Vaishnavi is a well-known face in the local junior chess circuit. She has won many prizes at the national level and is the five-time junior defending national champion in her category. She has also had the rare honour of being selected to represent Kenya in international chess events in Greece, France, Serbia, Georgia, Turkey and Vietnam. She is amongst the top junior players in the country.

Vaishnavi's talents have been recognised by the well-known Al Jazeera Television network. She was one of just four teenagers selected from entire Africa and the only one from east Africa to be featured in documentary-style footage of her life and achievements. This show was aired globally.

Vaishnavi is currently a Grade 11 student at Nairobi Jaffery Academy. She has won several prizes for her excellence in academics and extra-curricular activities. She was one of the first students to receive a full school merit scholarship in her school.

Writing and chess aside, Vaishnavi loves travelling and spends much of her leisure time reading books.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The State Of Kenyan Chess

Part one:

From first to the last the story of Kenyan chess is a tale of hopes deferred, of disappointment, of estimates unfulfilled, of talent unrealized, of coping with unpredicted and often unpredictable difficulties. It is a tale of a group of Kenyan men and women who will do it all for the passion of the game they so much love. It is also a tale of uncooperative officials who will use every chance to put hurdles in the way forward for the game. It is a complex interaction of factors financial, egoistic, passion and many more that make us still believe in Kenyan chess.

For us to realize the future we must go back to the past. The history of Kenyan chess is history! But in comparison to the present the past may have been brighter. I remember when I started learning chess both major dailies in Kenya, Nation and Standard had weekly chess columns there was also a magazine called Executive that carried a monthly chess column. Chess clubs were vibrant mostly in Nairobi but had its fair share in other towns as well.

The number G+90 tournaments were exceedingly high and the caliber of play ( I stand to be corrected on this) was above par. The number of juniors coming through the ranks was impressive. Chess could at the time attract huge sponsorship and players from as far as South Africa used to participate in the Kenyan open. The game had its fair share of politics probably it was more fired than today’s but events on the board overshadowed those off it.

Looking at the state of Kenyan chess today one has to wonder where the rain started beating us. For a start let us begin our postmortem by dissecting chess Kenya. When I looked at the membership of chess Kenya I was horrified, with less than 100 paid up members and over 90% being kids something is really amiss with chess Kenya recruitment procedures. Optimists may argue that this is good for development of young players but obviously this argument does not hold water.

Aside from membership chess Kenya does not seem interested in holding chess tournaments frequently; the last long tournament was months ago and such great traditional tournaments like the Kenya open may soon face the axe. To complicate things even more chess Kenya does not know the dates of the two ‘grand slams’ of Kenyan chess, the Kenya open and the national championships. The Kenya open was usually held during the May Day weekend but we have outsourced this to Uganda.

The return of the national league last year was a welcome relief to many. After years of being MIA the chess league resumed with a lot of players showing enthusiasm. The usual big sponsored teams walked away with the trophy but the entry of other teams including Maseno University was a welcome development. Kenya commercial bank team won the event.
On promising side chess Kenya continued with its process of featuring teams in international events. For more than ten consecutive years Kenya has always featured a team to the chess Olympiad. The Kenyan youth have also become ambassadors of great repute and participated in many international events.

But the real problem with chess in Kenya has it has been for many years is politics. Siasa mbaya maisha mbaya as the former president aptly put it does not only apply to the general Kenya but specific areas in Kenyan society like chess. The leadership wrangles of today are child play compared to the antics of yesteryears but still play a big role in digressing the game of chess.

Apart from chess Kenya the other part that influences chess are the players themselves. To start us off majority of Kenyan chess players myself included are not paid up members of chess Kenya. The argument has been why should players pay up when the chess organization cannot do anything in return?

The other worrying factor is the number of young players advancing to the senior level. If we still call the likes of Atwoli and Obutu upcoming we need to rethink our chess seriously. The other major setback for Kenyan chess is that Kenya is probably the only country in the world that does not have a major chess column in its national dailies.The standard used to have a column until two years ago when it was ceased to be published.

But through everything, through thick and thin, through financial crisis and chess highs we must struggle to maintain the standards of chess in Kenya. In the second part of this eassy I will continue with the state of Kenyan chess and give recommendations on what may be done.

Chess Gaffes

Chess books can be notoriously carefree, and the gaffes of publishers and/or authors may be visible even before the tome is opened. Only the stout-hearted should look at the examples given by the Editor of Chess Notes, such as a publisher unable to spell its own name and specimens of faulty titles, wrong names and incorrect cover illustrations. It all makes for irresistibly grisly reading. Chess Base has more

Monday, March 16, 2009

Chess Kenya Calendar Of Events

Chess kenya has released this years calendar of events. The crown jewel of the calendar is the African team championship slated for November at the Moi International Sports Centre in Kasarani. Here now is the full list.




28th & 29th MARCH

20th-30th MARCH

Dates to be confirmed


11TH ,12TH & 13TH APRIL

1ST ,2ND & 3RD ,MAY

16TH & 17TH MAY


JUNE ‘09 FEB ‘10



18TH & 19TH JULY













Friday, March 13, 2009

The Return Of Edwin Korir

Through thick and thin, through marauding militias and blood thirsty janja weed, from desert storms to to desert ovens from Kenya to Sudan and everything in between. Hello Kenya for the past few months I have not posted a blog entry but for very good reasons. I was in the Sudan on a peace keeping mission. Now in a place called Rumbek where electricity has never been discovered the internet is as alien as planet mongo. Chess news was had to come by and so I hear Anand is world champion! What about the local scene, well it seems from what I can gather from the Kenya chess forum that the same old ‘beef’ is going on.

But I played chess in the Sudan with a couple of patzers I was with and a UN worker from Lithuania who was extremely good. But the biggest part was trying to buffer Dafur from attacks by the Janja weed militia a modern day reincarnation of the 1800’s Madhi. It seems I have been in a time warp although I have gone through quite a number of my favorite websites to get updated e.g. chessbase, chessninja, chesscafe, London chess club, chesszone and thechessdrum.

Finally I saw a posting from mehul claiming that he won MIg in Chess worst chess poem of all time. Well I cannot dispute with that except for a small fact the the winner of the completion was called John Chernoff and mehul normally posts simply as well mehul well here is the poem.

Leko! Leko! Spurning fight
On the chessboard, as black (or white)
What immortal hand or eye
Could break thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant depth of plies
Blots the fire of thine eyes?
For what Queen dare he aspire?
What paroxysm doth seize his Sire?

And who bolder, & what art,
Could stir the Magyar in thy heart?
And when thine horse deigns retreat,
What Caro-Kann? & what dead scoresheet?

What Schlechter? What pawn chain?
To what purpose works thy brain?
What new angle? what dread trap
Dares your ready terror grasp?

When Kasparov lays down his spear,
And patzers spy the draw that’s near,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Leko! Leko! Taking flight
In the dullest fit of fright
What Oll or Tal in the sky
Could break thy fearful symmetry?

Nakuru OPEN

For the tenth year in a row the Rift valley machinaries will sponsor the Nakuru open chess tournament at the Midlands hotel from 28 to 29 march 2008. Below is the tournament invitation.