Action moved from the perpetual boardroom drama that is ‘petitioners versus Chess Kenya’ to the concrete blocks of TUK (Technical University of Kenya) last weekend where the university’s chess club organised their first open tournament.
I was there, again as the Chief Arbiter, to witness the mad dash by Kenya’s chess players to improve on their rating elos and TPR scores before the deadline of May 1st comes around and crushes their hopes of making it to the Olympiad qualifiers tournament(s).
This time around, Mehul Gohil was out to show the world that his dismal performances in the recent past had been left there and he was on course to finally win a tournament till lead petitioner CM John Mukabi also decided to stake his claim on the top prize of Sh5,000 in cash and a glistening silver trophy. (Management of Sportpesa, if you’re reading this and wondering whether I’ve mistyped the top prize amount, I haven’t, chess really does need your help to boost its generally under-funded prize kitties country-wide. ;))
In their final round encounter, after having offered Mehul a draw twice in the span of 17 moves and having had both quietly rejected, John decided to unleash the beast. Mustering his years of experience and helped by dubious moves from Mehul and severe time pressure on both, John coolly calculated his way to a much-needed win finishing with 5.5 points and eventual victory.
Mukabi, who is the coach for Equity Bank’s national league team, was followed by three players tied on 5 points each for second place: Brian Toboso (Eastlands Chess Club), Mehul Gohil (Nairobi Chess Club) and Vasanth Ramesh (Anchor Chess Club).
In the ladies category, prizes were awarded to: Isabelle Asiema (Strathmore University) with 3.5 points and Daphne Mwikali (Kenyatta University), WCM Jane Wambugu and Joyce Nyaruai (TUK) who all tied for second place with 3 points each.
In the Juniors category, unrated Milton Kihara (Anchor Chess Club) scooped first prize followed by Timothy Mwabu, the youngest participant in the Open section.
The unrated U14 section where all participants were from All Saints Cathedral School saw Timothy Mwenda Kinoti scoop first prize, followed by Natalie Bullut and Jemmie Charles.
Solution: 1. Qxf5! Tempting Black’s Queen away from protecting the Knight on c6 1. .. Qxf5 2. Bxc6 And Black