Home Chess Opinion pieces A story by CM Ben Magana – Part 2

A story by CM Ben Magana – Part 2


The story according to CM Ben Magana


“Immediately after Bungoma, there was Tanzania Open across the border. This was a six-day affair (4 days playing + 2 days traveling), not feasible for a family man like me, especially after being in Bungoma the week before. So my chess addiction made me find my way to Lumumba Social Hall, deep in the bowels of Eastlands. The surrounding area used to be known as “Trench-Town”, an area where muggings were common place in the past. Key word: PAST. The venue is run-down, but is a valuable resource for the mostly lower class & lower-middle class folk that live around there. I was very happy to be here, as out of diversity is often bred brilliance.
Poster for the event.
The turnout was low, due to a variety of factors. But several strong players were there, including the current meteor of Kenyan chess, Madol Panchol, a.k.a. “Panadol Extra”. Panadol had claimed the scalpels of Atwoli, Singe and Ssonko of Uganda in Bungoma. All these mentioned players are Olympians, so it was no mean feat.
Photo from the 2015 Eastlands Open (photo credit Terence Chazima).
On day 1, overconfidence uncharacteristically got to me and I dropped a half point in a game where I was comfortably better. My opponent was Brian Mmata, a guy who is best described as seasonal. On his good day, he can be very lethal. Otherwise, he is an ‘enthusiastic amateur’.

After 3 rounds, there were two guys ahead of me, Jonah Lang’at and Douglas Kurito. They met in round 4 and drew, while I won. In round 5, I played Kurito (rated 1900+) and won, while Jonah drew again. So going into round 6, I was sole leader at 4.5/5, while 3 or 4 others were half a point behind on 4 points. The final round had me playing vs Panadol. Before the game he confidently told me he would wipe the floor with my carcass, lol. Mind games?! His confidence is infectious, reminding me of a certain cocky but hardworking Ugandan several years back who goes by the name of IM Elijah Emojong. 

James Madol Panchol in action during the 2015 Kenya National Championship at Strathmore University
PS: Panchol is currently rated at 2030 by FIDE, in position #12 amongst active Kenyan players.

It is always nice being able to win such ‘lesser’ tournaments. The players one encounters are normally only lower rated, but just as hungry to crush the top dogs of chess.”  End of story.
Mehul Gohil (left) & Ben Magana say a small prayer before the start of their game from the 2013 Rapid Chess Championship 14th July 2013 at KCB Club, Ruaraka, Nairobi.