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

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Tragedy Of Chess Kenya

The new chess season is about to begin but who is really managing kenyan chess? CK did not hold the national championships last year: They were too busy minting 'Tritonite' kids money. With the All African games nearby the scent of more cash is irresisteble.

By Edwin Korir

Chess kenya has finally released its program of events for the calendar year 2011. The document signed by the chess kenya secretariat is bound to upset many local players due to the fact that most players consider the current office holders illegal. The Kenya national sports council has organized two meetings in the past to arbitrate the matter. On both occasions the meetings ended in a stalemate or a +/- advantage for Chess Kenya.

The first meeting in December nearly ended in a fist fight while another one held last month failed to take off due to the abscence of the CK officials. While chess players have been insisting that all players who participated in the national chess league should be allowed to vote in the AGM, CK on its part has been consistent that only registered members will vote. Most Senior chess players are not members of CK but are members of chess clubs registred with CK. Majority of CK members are juniors of kenyan Asians (mostly reffered to as 'tritonites').

The parents of this kids are not intrested in development of chess in kenya but the development of the childrens brains and a few junior international tournaments that CK seems to be a specialist at. The children start playing chess at early age but when they turn 18, they simply evaporate. The current kenyan chess scene has only one senior 'tritonite' ( no pun intened). Because most of kenyan Asian parents have no qualms about paying CK fees, CK has metarmophosed into some sort of chess day care centre.

In the December AGM comical discussions were held at the kenya chess forum. Several scenarios emerged with a possibility of six and seven year old kids electing the new CK officals. Alas, this dommsday scenario never took-off. Senior chess players having been abandonded by their parents have been forced to scavenge for themselves to avoid chess starvation. Several initiatives have been put in place to ensure chess food is put on the table. Checkmates club, Nairobi chess club and others have been organizing rapid and blitz championship on a regular basis. No G+90 tournament has taken place though.

With no proper body to organize tournaments all kinds of titles are mushrooming. Kenya blitz champion ( which seems to be contested everyday, EA blitz championships et al). As Wachira aptly puts it "chess is the hardest habit to kick", senoir players have been orgazing tournaments and in a positive note some are now held online.

The only serious activity CK has been undertaking for senior chess is anything that seems to have financial gain for them. First, the National chess league(bucause teams have to register to play=MONEY). Most clubs playing in the league are institutional teams that will pay CK fees with no questions asked. Secondly, the chess olympiad ( the official CK cash cow). Monetary gains from this event are immense; bribes from FIDE cadidates for votes, goverment subsidies, donations and many more.

The caveat emptor most kenyan players are sensing in the newly released CK calendar is money. With the all african games around the coner and the goverment having allocated Ksh 130,000 to each federation CK -get rich or die trying- scheme can be smelt from far.

CK real major failure has been to put in place a rating system. The last one was managed by Ben Magana until he stopped. Several players are trying their own versions of the same. With so many free rating software online one can only imagine why CK is not intrested. Another option would be to outsource the same to an individual or an ICT company, but because this involves use of money it will never happen.

CK failure to hold a national championship last year was to say the least disatrous. The kenya open has not been held for three years. With this and much more we should expect very hard times ahead.

No comments: