Joseph Methu beat a field of 94 players to win the FIDE-rated Open section of the inaugural Kiambu County chess tournament over the weekend.
The event was organised by the Nairobi Chess Academy and Club (NCA&C) in conjunction with the County government’s youth and sports department, and Chess Kenya (CK) who also provided the chess equipment.
A record number of 356 participants registered for this 6 round event that was divided into 3 categories—the Open, challengers and juniors —played at the Kiambu community hall that saw each player having 1 hour and 30 minutes to finish the game.
Going into the last round of the Open category, four players namely CM Ben Magana of KCB, the highest rated Kenyan player Peter Gilruth, KCB’s Philip Singe and the unheralded but much improved Methu all had a mathematical chance of clinching the coveted winners’ trophy.
Gilruth faced off with Magana since both had 5 points whereas Methu had to contend with Singe, as they were on 4.5 points apiece.
With the former pair drawing their game to bring them to 5.5 points, Singe seemed poised to win their bout, but Methu unleashed a dubious tactical combination that left Singe’s ambition under check, thus relegating him to 10th place!
The tie-break system awarded Methu the top spot, followed by Magana as Gilruth came in third, meaning that the 3 top prizes of Sh30,000, Sh20,000 and Sh10,000 was equally shared among the three, with each pocketing Sh20,000.
In fourth place was Arnold Oyagi who dispatched Equity Bank chess club’s and Kenya’s most capped player CM John Mukabi in the last round, to the consternation of many. Uganda’s WFM Ivy Amoko who turns up for Equity Bank chess club put up a sterling performance yet again, and garnered 5 points to emerge as the ladies winner and 9th overall, thus taking home Sh30,000.
KCB’s Olympian and FA Purity Maina emerged 2nd on 4.5 points and a commendable 11th place overall finish, wining herself Sh20,000. WFM Rose Wabuti of KCB and WCM Riya Shah both tied on 3.5 points apiece, equally splitting the 3rd prize of Sh10,000 as they finished in the 29th and 40th positions respectively. The top three finishers also got a trophy.
The challengers’ category was won by Kenneth K. Mukii who posted a perfect score of 6/6 points and won KShs.30,000 and was closely followed in 2nd position by Paul W. Maina on 5.5 points wining Sh20,000 as Matthew Nderitu, William Kliithi, Joseph Kimani, and Shem Kariuki all tied on 5 points apiece to finish in that order and walk away with Sh2,500 each.
Maryanne Gachema won the ladies challengers section with 5 points and was rewarded with Sh30,000, as Priscilla Mwaura, Evalyne Wanjiku and Esther Kinyua tied on 4 points apiece to get Sh10,000 each.
In the 1 day junior category played on Saturday, Samesh Arul obliterated the field by scoring 6/6 points to emerge the winner. Darshan Shah managed to score 5.5 points to lay claim to the 2nd spot as Subham Rai, Sita Shah, Moses Maina, Timothy Mwambo, Stacy Gathu, Alex Mwaura and Collins Musumba each got 5 points to sequentially follow the leading duo.
The Kiambu County’s Chief Officer for youth affairs, sports and communication, Madame Marie Mugo presided over the closing ceremony that was also attended by the CK chairman Githinji Hinga. She said that the County government is going to closely work with CK and the NCA&C promoting chess axross Kiambu County.
“As we have seen from the large number of participants gathered here today, I believe chess can be used as a tool in fighting the social vice of drugs and alcohol abuse that has bedeviled our youth in the greater Kiambu County” she said and added that her department is going to ensure that those who participated from Kiambu County receive adequate training with a view to having them participate in the national league.
And with traditional Easter tournament now not in the offing, many chess players will have to realign their plans, with focus now shifting to the Zone 4.2 Individual Chess Championship slated for Kampala, Uganda from the 17th-26th April 2015. Moroccan International Arbiter (IA) Abdelfattah Akkour has been confirmed as the Chief Arbiter by African Chess Confederation (ACC) President, Lewis Ncube
After consultations with the ACC President, the Ugandan Chess Federation (UCF) has also announced that participating federations will now be allowed to field 5 players, up from the initial 3, and the hosts will field 2 more players to add to the initial 5.
Zone 4.2 has a total of 10 countries comprising Sudan, Ethiopia, Seychelles, Somalia, Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Egypt.
Puzzle: Find the best moves for Black (Hou Yifan) against White (Bu Xiangzhi) as played in the Chinese Championship 2012