The Kenya National Speed Chess Tournament at the Nairobi Gymkhana got off to a fiery start on Saturday morning with a total of 110 players competing in the two categories – Open and Junior Section.
Most chess tournament in Nairobi start with players chatting and making new friends and is always a great pleasure to be part of the huge and expectant crowd. Alas, this event was marred by Chess Kenya throwing a cat at the pigeons when they unexpectedly refused Mehul Gohil who was a key contender for the title to enter the event.
Mehul Gohil had registered early for the event and in a show of bravery informed me that he was coming to the Speed Chess title and the Blitz title which was on offer on Sunday.
I have enclosed an extract of the email to Mehul to see his so called “crime”.
Even the pleading from the Nairobi Gymkhana host and from the Sponsor Europack fell on the deaf ears of Chess Kenya Honcho Githinji Hinga and Chief Organiser Larry Kagambi. Talk about contempt for the host and sponsor!
Many players were very upset by this high-handed approach by Chess Kenya without any regard to due process as laid down in the constitution. The sad thing was that there were a few smug faces who were smiling inwards at this drama. The smug faces reminded me of Jabba The Hutt from the Star Wars series. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jabba_the_Hutt
Our ever “Victor The Great” – Dr Victor Ngani who was instrumental in removing one of the most horrible bunch of the former Chess Kenya officials (LOL – bunch of Matoke – bunch of Officials) could not stand this horrible action and stormed out after the first round when he found out the drama.
The Fireball started on Social Media when he put up a long discussion on Facebook.
From my discussions with players and officials it is apparent that the agenda against Mehul is big and there are some diehard “Stasi” types in the inner circles of Chess Kenya who want to ban him from FIDE as well! I shudder to think what would have happened to Mehul Gohil if he were to live in the Soviet era. He would have been sitting in the gulag by now. Even the might Union of The Soviet Socialist Republic (USSSR) did not think of doing that to my Hero Victor Korchnoi in their heydays. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viktor_Korchnoi.
These are some people who are rankled by Mehul’s endless rants on Social Media. Most of his rants are legitimate and need to be addressed if we want to move from being a “Matoke” Nation in chess to Strong Nation. For my international readers – Matoke is a variant of green bananas that are used for cooking in Kenya. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matoke)
I must admit however that at times Mehul’s tirades at times make me cringe in horror but that is a story for another day. There was a time he even pissed off GM Susan Polgar on Twitter! See below;
I had covered the story in one of my earlier posts about the denunciation of the National Championship title.
Anyway enough of this and let us get back to the story line.
Ben Magana powered his way usual to an emphatic win with 7/8 points to claim the top prize of KES 10,000 (approximately USD 100). Top 12 players are shown below;
The top players from the Open Section is shown below.
The top 12 Juniors are shown below;
I bring you some nice photos of the event which was delightful to play in. The ambiance was great and both the hosts and sponsors ever so enthusiastic.
|Tom Amwai holds his head in agony|
|Joseph Methu winner of Blitz Championship from an earlier photo|
|Blitz Champion Joseph Methu (left) takes on Chess Aficionado Paras Gudka|
|Organiser Larry Kagambi (left) on TV interview|
|The King – Ben Magana (left) v Moses Andiwo|
|Junior Speed Chess King – Sumit Deshpande (right)|
|The man we have been waiting for GM Short with CK Bigwig Githinji Hinga|
In the afternoon we had the legendary GM Nigel Short at the venue to grace the event. Big thanks goes to Kasparov Chess Foundation for helping again to promote chess in Kenya.