FM Harold Wanyama clinched the 2018 KCB Kenya Open title after defeating IM Elijah Emojong on the top board in the last round to garner 6 out of a possible 7 points. He was led to the podium by a pair of beauties to be awarded KES 100,000 (USD 1,000) and a trophy by the KCB Group Chief Operating Officer Samuel Makome who was the guest of honour.
The 4-day event held over the Easter weekend at the KCB Leadership Center in Karen saw 28 players fight it out in the Prestige section. The Challenger’s section attracted 106 players. There were 32 players in the Ladies section and 71 in the Junior, who competed in U10, U12 and U16 age groups. The event was run using the Swiss system managed by the chief arbiter Charles Mwangi.
FM Patrick Kawuma finished on 5.5 points after defeating James Panchol in a game punctuated by a declined draw offer from either player. In spite tying on points with Kenya’s National Champion CM Ben Magana, the tiebreak placed Kawuma in second position as Magana finished third to each go home with KES 37,500.
Ben Nguku Namale had to summon his vast experience before grabbing a point from Ricky Sang, after being stretched to a seemingly long drawn endgame. This earned him KES 12,500 (USD 125) as the fourth placed finisher on 5 points.
The reigning national champion WCM Joyce Nyaruai put up a stellar performance to clinch the ladies title. She amassed 6.5 points and went home with KES 50,000 (USD). Her only draw was in round 3 against the 1st runners up Daphne Mwikali, who tied on 5.5 points with the pre-tournament favorite WFM Ivy Amoko.
Ivy was however placed 3rd on Buchholz tie-break and they each took home KES 11,250 after equally splitting the 2nd and 3rd prize of KES 15,000 and KES 7,500 respectively.
The youthful Martin Njoroge, made a late surge in the Challengers section to upstage the pacesetter Harmony Odhiambo in their final round encounter in a pulsating game not devoid of drama.
Martin’s final tally of 6.5 points saw him lift the winners’ trophy with a cash reward of KES 50,00 (USD 500). Harmony Odhiambo settled for 2nd position on 6 points, after only needing a draw in this game to guarantee him the title. He therefore tied with 3 other players, Mohamed Nasir, Evans Sinoya and Roba Abdul to each get KES 18,750 after splitting the 2nd– 5th prize fund of KES 30,000, KES 20,000, KES 15,000 and KES 10,000.
Kenya National U16 Champion Timothy Mwabu of Alliance High was the winner of the U16 category. He went home with KES 5,000 and a trophy.
The Lwanga siblings continued to exert their dominance in the junior section as CM Odongo Lwanga posted a perfect score of 6/6 points to be crowned the U10 champion as he pocketed KES 5,000. His elder brother CM Aguda Lwanga drew in the final round to Rachith Reddy to finish with 5.5 points. He took home a trophy as well as KES 5,000 in the U12 category.
The guest of honour challenged Chess Kenya (CK) and other stakeholders to do all that it takes to produce an International Masters (IM) and Grandmasters (GM). He also underscored KCB Group’s commitment to supporting chess in a bigger way.
The Kenya Academy of Sports director Douglas Ratemo also pledged to continue supporting chess, especially in ensuring that the national teams travel to the 43rd World Chess Olympiad to be held in Batumi, Georgia from 23 September – 16 October 2018.
The CK Chairman Bernard Wanjala on his part highlighted on the successes so far achieved by the federation. He further promised to continue building on them with a view to making Kenya a force to reckon with.
Story by Brian Kidula – CEO and founder of Terrian Chess Academy.