The Kenya National Speed Chess Championships 2015 took place last weekend at the magnificent Nairobi Gymkhana Sports Club on Forest Road in Nairobi.
Sponsored by Euro Packaging Ltd, Magnum Ventures Ltd and Afriwonders Travel Ltd, the event attracted 109 participants who played in two tournaments held on Saturday and Sunday. At stake were the coveted titles of national rapid and blitz champions for women and men.
Joseph Methu was crowned the blitz champion after amassing 11/12 points followed by CM Ben Magana on 9.5 points and in third place with 9.5 points was Ben Nguku.
CM Kenneth Omolo finished fourth on 9 points and veteran Martin Oyamo completed the prize bracket in fifth place with same points margin.
Magana won the previous day’s rapid championship with 7/8 points followed by Joseph Atwoli and Collins young on 7 points, as Ricky Sang and George Nderitu managed 6 points to finish fourth and fifth respectively.
Joyce Nyaruai was crowned the women’s rapid champ after garnering 5 points followed by Olympian Winfred Thitu (4.5) and Devayani Whavale (2.5). WCM Riya Shah emerged tops in the blitz category with 7 points as W. Thitu finished second (7) and J. Nyaruai (5.5) came in third. Srinjay Mukhophadhyay was the best U16 player as Subham Rai and Martin Oyamo triumphed in the U21 and over 50 years age categories respectively. Deadly Bishops was the best club.
Other results were: U10 boys: 1.Aguda Lwanga, 2.Reeyan Gosrani, 3.Mohit Srungarapu; U10 girls: 1.Parikh Nikita, 2.Naiya Gosrani, 3.Vivian Muthoni; U12 boys: 1.Sunil Subramaniam, 2.Arnold Mudidi, 3.Bhargav Gorugantu; U12 girls: Mercy Ingado; U14 boys: 1.Aravind Vengarai, 2.Sumit Deshpande, 3. Krish Wadhia; U14 girls: 1.Parikh Pranjal, 2.Bansi Patel.
With increased chess activity in the country in the last two years, the number of FIDE-rated players has grown from a paltry 20 to 102 players, ranking Kenya fourth in the continent; behind Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt. There was more excitement as British grandmaster and former world number three played simultaneously with 30 players, winning all the games! GM Nigel Short expressed optimism about Kenyan chess and predicted a phenomenal growth within the next few years, saying the country is undoubtedly the leader in the region with so many tournaments.
The tournament organiser FIDE instructor and arbiter, Lawrence Kagambi, who is also the founder and CEO of Waridi Chess Ventures, said the future is bright, with better prospects for the sport in the country.
Puzzle: What did White (CM Kenneth Omolo) play after Black (CM Ben Magana) played Be6 in the 2015 Nairobi Gymkhana Blitz Championship?
Solution: 1.exf6 Bxc4 2.fxg7 Kxg7 (if 2…Bxf1 gxf8Q+ wins) 3.Bxc4 with dynamic equality.