Happy New Year! If last year saw a proliferation of chess activities, then this year should see them happening in almost every corner of the country. It was indeed a great year for chess and a feather in Chess Kenya’s (CK) cap as the number of FIDE-rated events produced more rated players.
I would, however, wish to see organisers of tournaments up their game and get good sponsorship for the prize fund. For a long time, winners have had to go home with paltry amounts, not befitting the effort and time invested in playing in these events.
It at times appears as if chess is not affected by inflation because the top prize has more often than not stagnated at Sh30,000, and that in itself is billed as a ‘bigger and better’ event by the organisers. This is even less than what winners would at times pocket in the 90’s and it is about time organisers broadened their perspective.
Yes, I agree securing sponsorship is not easy but then being complacent and even depending on the tournaments entry fee to award winners is not only myopic and retrogressive but exhibits a dearth of imagination, and this should not be allowed to flourish in the 21st century.
Such skewed thinking has made some well-intentioned events to end up not paying out the advertised prize monies, which is injurious to the reputation of the game. It is about time that CK reigned in on organizers that fail to adhere to what is expected of them by the players, who at times travel far and wide for the love of the game.
According to the provisional calendar released by CK, the first quarter of this year will see players battle it out in the regional qualifiers of the African Youth Chess Championship, the 2nd edition of the Kiambu Open, the kick-off of the national league and the prestigious Kenya Open, traditionally played over the Easter holiday.
Kenya is due to host the Zone 4.2 African Individual Chess Championship in the 2nd quarter of the year, and this comes at a time when CK just turned 40 and expectations will be high for a memorable event that will attract players from the zone that include Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Somalia, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and Seychelles. Eritrea and South Sudan are also expected to join sooner than later.
It is also a year that Kenya shall participate in the biennial chess Olympiad to be held in Baku, Azerbeijan from September 17- 30.
Puzzle: Find the best move for Black (Stephan Mazur) against White (Istvan Sipos) as played at the Int’l Open Ch.SVK, 2012.
Solution: 1…Rh1+ 2.Kxh1 Nxg3+ 3.Kg1 Rxf1+ 4.Kh2 Nxe4 5.Qe2 g3+ 6.Kh3 Rh1+ 7.Kg4 Bd1 wins.