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

Thursday, September 15, 2011


The All African Games are currently taking place in Mozambique. The Kenyan team is composed of a variety of disciplines one of them being chess. Mehul Gohil who is part of the Kenyan chess team has been providing the Kenya chess forum with regular updates.

Mehul looks back at the lessons he has learned at the ongoing AAG.


1. Must play in 3 FIDE rated tournaments ever year - this event alone
has shown me things I had no idea about.

2. Passive play is punished. Don't ever play passive in these kinds of
events. It's easy to get sucked into that mode since it looks like
safe chess. Probably works in Kenya, back here it does jack. Play
aggressive, play positive.

3. Chess stamina...the ability to keep finding good or competent moves
all the time, the ability to remain vigilant move after move...this is
what separated them from us. The other fellas stay in their for the
long haul. They keep returning the ball over the net. I must admit
this was a whole new phenomenon for me. I haven't experienced this
back home. Game after game this is the situation. Take a look at Gwaze
vs Chumfwa from Rd4...a hundred mover thing...to see what I am talking

4. GM Draws should be banned in Kenya. They lead to bad habits which
are absolutely of no help back here.

5. We don't know how to study or what to study. There are large tracts
of middle game stuff we underestimate or have no clue about. If there
is one clear area the other stronger African players outclass us in is
middle game. In equal or worse positions they know what they should
do, how to etc. In this respect we need a coach. A proper one like an
IM or GM.

6. Calculation and tactics. There is a big gap between us and these
guys in our tactical and calculation ability. Something we all need to
work on. What this allows them to do is be more creative in boring
positions etc. Some of my opponents just came up with things out of

7. We think we love chess a lot as Kenyan chess addicts. Now I know the
other African players love it even more and are even bigger chess
addicts than any of us. This means you must be slightly crackpot in
order to play well. You need a dose of insanity to sit there and
return the ball and wait for the opponent to make a mistake. This
extreme chess addiction of the Zambians, Nigerians etc also allows
them to work like crazy on chess purely on auto-pilot. I now know hard
work in chess does not mean only gritting your teeth and forcing
yourself to sit down to study...it also means having an extreme chess
addiction that self-propels you to look at chess.

8. Theory. You don't know theory then don't bother showing up for a FIDE rated.

9. Long chess and blitz. More long chess events needed in Kenya, plus
out blitz has to be played more seriously and not for fun. These guys
are blitz monsters but you will not catch them playing blitz for fun.
They play it to kill you. They like winning and blitz allows them to
kill more patzers on a shorter time span.

10. Extreme desire to win. Unlike the Kenyans, most of the other
African teams have an intense desire to win. You feel it across the
board. Even if you have a better position or its equal.

11. Knowing the evaluation of the position. I realized I don't know
how to evaluate a position well. Whether it's equal, i am better etc.
This means I didn't know when to accept draws or when to play more
solid or aggressive etc. This evaluation skills I doubt you can learn
from books etc...you need experience and therefore more practice in
FIDE rated events.

12. Knowing when to take a day off. Magnum in this respect knows well.
Before the Botswana game he advised me to rest since I had a good
score etc. And he told me I would burn out or something since the
previous games had been intense. I played instead and I lost. You must
know when to relax. It's very easy to get sucked into looking at chess
all the time here and I realize just forgetting about the game time to
time is very helpful.

13. Tournament regulations. The tornas back in Kenya are largely
informal in nature with noise all the time, post postmortems happening
right next to a game that is going on, people not turning up on time
etc. When you play in these serious affairs like AAG you realize how
important silence is for thinking about your moves. Perhaps we need
stricter torna regulations on our side like switching off phones etc.

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