56th Nairobi Chess Club Championship

by ChessBase
9/20/2014 – The Nairobi Chess Club is the oldest chess club in Kenya, and in late August it hosted the 56th Club Championship, with 78 players at the start. The event was won by former Olympian (1988/1990) and 1990 Kenya National Champion Larry Kagambi with a perfect score of five wins out of five games. Kim Bhari, Chairman of NCC, has sent us a big illustrated report.

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Report from Nairobi by Kim Bhari

The most eagerly awaited event in Kenya was the 56th Nairobi Chess Club Championship which was held at the famous Braeburn School, Gitanga Road Nairobi, Kenya during the weekend of 23rd - 24th August 2014. 78 players registered and could not contain their zeal and excitement before the tournament started. Players had a total of one hour each to complete this fascinating game.

Goan Gymkhana, the home of the Nairobi Chess Club

View of the playing hall inside the Gymkhana

Former Olympian (1988/1990) and 1990 Kenya National Champion Larry Kagambi beat a strong field of 78 players to win the 56th Nairobi Chess Club Championship with a perfect score of five wins out of five games.

Larry Kagambi, who was the past Secretary General of Chess Kenya for a number of years, joins a long list of winners of this prestigious event. Past winners include (unfortunately many records are missing from the club’s archive):

  • Saif Kanai – 19th Nairobi Chess Club Champion
  • Ben Magana – 53rd Nairobi Chess Club Champion
  • Peter Gilruth – 54th Nairobi Chess Club Champion
  • Patrick Kawuma – 55th Nairobi Chess Club Champion

Other strong contenders included 54th Nairobi Chess Club Champion Peter Gilruth (above left playing upcoming star Armon Ole Sein), and five players from the 2014 Kenya Olympiad Team: J. Akello, B. Magana (who is the current Kenya National Champion and the 53rd Nairobi Chess Club Champion), J. Kamau, Riya Shah and Isabella Asiema. Harold Wanyama and Mathias Ssonko, who represented Uganda in the 2014 Olympiad team, were also present and who had vowed to make a clean 1-2 sweep of the prizes.

Action during the club afternoons

Larry went home with a cash prize of KShs 20,000 (US $225) plus Nakumatt Vouchers of KShs 6,000 ($70). In second to fifth place was Mathias Ssonko, Mowlid Ahmed, Brian Kidula and Vincent Ngeno, who each won KShs 10,350 ($117) plus individual trophies.

Top rankings of 78 players

Rank Player
1 Lawrence Kagambi
10.0 17.0 15.0
2-4 Mathias Ssonko
10.0 17.0 12.5
9.0 15.5 14.0
  Brian Kidula
9.0 15.5 14.0
5-11 Vincent Ngeno
10.5 17.5 14.0
  Jacktone Mony
9.0 17.0 13.0
  Atwoli Joseph
9.0 14.5 10.0
  Victor Hongo
8.5 14.5 13.0
  Chacha Matiko
8.5 14.0 14.0
  Githinji Hinga
8.0 13.5 10.0
  Ricky Sang
7.5 12.5 13.0
12-16 Joseph Ngooro
10.0 17.0 10.0
  Subham Rai
10.0 16.5 10.0
  Ben Magana
8.5 14.5 12.0
  Peter Gilruth
8.0 14.0 10.0
  Abdinasir Shafat
6.5 12.5 8.5

Reanna Varsani in action

Riya Shah, who is 14 years old and a member of the 2014 Kenya Ladies Olympiad team,
receives her prize for being the winner in the ladies category from Terence Chazima

In ladies category Riya Shah was the winner with three points, followed by Isabella Asiema, Reanna Varsani and Subhika Grande (above right, next to Saloni Karania in pink, playing Arthur Kariuki). Each won KShs 1,500. The top three went home with individual trophies.

A serious talent: FM Ritvik Pendyala during a game

In the Junior category the winner was Subham Rai with 3.5 points followed by Dev Shah, Srinjay Mukophadyay and FM Ritvik Pendyala. The top three went home with trophies.

The winner of the Challenger Category was Matiko Chacha (KShs 2,000), followed by Jackson Okoth Ochieng (KShs 1,000) and then Kevin Owen (KShs 500). They each went home with a trophy.

The total prize fund of this event was just over KShs 70,000 ($800) making it one of Kenya’s largest events in 2014. The sponsor for this event were former Olympians Rodgers Adai with KShs 50,000, Aslam Adam (former Nairobi Chess Club official who now resides in UK) with KShs 15,000 and Humphrey Andolo (former Kenya Champion and Kenya Olympiad Team member who also resides in UK) with KShs 5,000. Gift vouchers were donated by Mr Vasanth.

Saif Kanani is one of Kenya’s most famous chess sons. He was the winner of a silver medal on board one during the 1980 Olympiad, when he scored 9.5 out of 12 points. He is the the only Kenyan to draw against a former World Champion Boris Spassky during the 1986 Olympiad, which was held in Dubai. He is seen during that game in the picture above left.

Saif Kanani’s other way to worldwide fame was when his last game in the 1980 Olympiad against William Hook of BVI was incorporated in a commemorative stamp. We published a report on William Hook, the game and stamp by GM Lubomir Kavalek.

[Event "Malta ol"] [Site "?"] [Date "1980.06.12"] [Round "?"] [White "Hook, William"] [Black "Kanani, Saifudin"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A45"] [PlyCount "74"] [SourceDate "2014.09.15"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. Bg5 c5 3. d5 Qb6 4. Nc3 d6 5. e4 Nbd7 6. Rb1 a6 7. a4 h6 8. Be3 Qb4 9. f3 Ne5 10. Bd2 Qb6 11. f4 Ng6 12. Bd3 Bg4 13. Qc1 Bd7 {Position used in the stamp.} 14. e5 dxe5 15. Bxg6 fxg6 16. fxe5 O-O-O 17. exf6 exf6 18. Nge2 Bg4 19. Be3 Bxe2 20. Kxe2 Qb4 21. Re1 Bd6 22. h3 g5 23. Kf1 g4 24. hxg4 h5 25. g5 h4 26. Bf2 h3 27. gxh3 Rxh3 28. Re4 Qa5 29. Qd1 f5 30. Rh4 Rxh4 31. Bxh4 Qb4 32. Bf2 Qf4 33. Qh5 g6 34. Qh4 Qd2 35. Re1 Bf4 36. Rd1 Bxg5 37. Rxd2 Bxh4 1-0

The Nairobi Chess Club is the oldest chess club in Kenya and was registered in February 1958. For a number of years the club was very active and organized the huge Pan Paper Chess Tournament, which used to be held over the Easter break from around 1980 to around 1990. The club then went through a number of years where it was dormant, before activity resumed in 2009 when it launched the famous and hugely popular Nairobi Chess League.

Major events include the now one event that has been carved in world history by becoming the first club to organize the famous match between the Kenya National Team christened “Kenya Simbas” vs the prestigious Wageningen Chess Club of Holland who had GM Jan Timman on board 1 (see ChessBase report).

... grandmasters into the lions' cage! In 2010, Nairobi Chess Club organised a trip to Nairobi for Grandmaster Dimitri Reinderman, who had a simultaneous exhibition in an event dubbed “GM Dimitri v The Rest of Kenya” and conducted some training sessions. The club has also hosted the Ugandan National Team in Nairobi on two occasions for an event dubbed “Battle for Migingo” (+ part three).

Sights of Nairobi and Kenya

The Nairobi skyline [image from Nairobi Excursions]

An eland posing in front of the city skyline

Hyena in Amboseli National Park

Elephants in Amboseli National Park, with a view of Mount Kilimanjaro

Mud, mud, glorious mud, nothing quite like it for cooling the blood!
Orphan elephants frolicking at the David Sheldrick Centre In Nairobi.

A jeep cannot deal with mud quite as easily as the pachyderms

Report and photos by Kim Bhari, Chairman of Nairobi Chess Club


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