Last Thursday evening, Team Kenya arrived safely in Tromso, Norway for the 41st Chess Olympiad—one of the biggest sporting events in the world, and the next important one on the chess calendar after the World Championship.
From August 1-14, 2200 players from 170 national federations will be engaged in games of nerves as they at times face tantalising and seemingly inexplicable combinations exploding right in their faces! Each player will have 90 minutes to make 40 moves and 30 minutes until the end of the game, with 30 seconds additional per move, meaning a single game could last for 5 hours after starting at 3pm local time.
Played in two sections—the Open and women’s—Armenia are the former’s defending champions and Russia the latter’s. In the 2012 Olympiad in Istanbul, Turkey, Kenya finished 139th out of 150 federations in the open section and 108th out of 127 in the women section.
It wasn’t a good start for Kenya on Saturday as both teams succumbed to a 4-0 drubbing; the men were handed that defeat by Belgium and our women by Australia. But with 11 rounds being played in total, we hope our results will improve from the previous outing.
Doing duty for the men are national champion CM Ben Magana, FM Martin Gateri, Joseph Atwoli, Steve Ouma and debutant Jackson Kamau as Gweyani Jumba, WCM Jane Wambugu, WCM Riya Shah, Rose Wabuti and another debutant Winfred Thitu make up the women’s team. The teams are captained and coached by Collins Young and Philip Singe respectively.
Chess Kenya chairman Githinji Hinga is the federation’s delegate at the Olympiad Congress, where voting for the next FIDE officials will be held. Douglas Ratemo is the head of delegation from the government, as Purity Maina is the first ever Kenyan to officiate at an Olympiad as an arbiter!
To the uninitiated fans, the games can be viewed online— live with running commentary—from the official Olympiad website https://chess24.com/en/olympiad2014/live.
Puzzle: Find the best moves for White (GM W.Hao) against Black (GM E.Bacrot) in this game played at the 45th Biel GM Tournament, 2011).