Easter Sunday saw players converge at the KCB Leadership Centre in Karen for round 5 of the KCB Kenya Open Chess Championship. The event that started on Good Friday ends on Easter Monday.
With the field beginning to take shape towards the ultimate winner’s prize of KES 100,000 (USD 1,000) in the Prestige section, the anxiety at the impressive playing venue was palpable as pre-tournament favorites clashed on the top two boards.
Board 1 saw the tournament’s top seeded Ugandan (IM) Arthur Ssegwanyi (2374) uncharacteristically fall for a tactical cheapo to hang a bishop against his countryman FM Harold Wanyama (2314) thus handing the latter a precious point.
It was also a Ugandan affair on board 2 as FM Patrick Kawuma (2339) dispatched IM Elijah Emojong (2296) to setup a mouthwatering encounter against FM Wanyama in the 6th round that ended in a quick draw after only 15 moves.
South Sudan’s James Madol Panchol (2020) sent Uganda’s FM Haruna Nsubuga (2161) to the dryer only to land a date with another Ugandan Mathias Ssonko (2119) on board 2 in the 6th round, whom he convincingly outclassed for a morale boosting victory.
Kenya’s Mehul Gohil (1999) was quite categorical that a win for him against IM Elijah Emojong on board 3 would bring him back into contention, whereas a draw would be welcome half a point. This however remained only a pipedream as IM Emojong produced a brilliancy that will for a long time reverberate in the minds of chess enthusiasts.
On board 4 the reigning Kenya National Champion CM Ben Magana (2121) was up against the evergreen Peter Gilruth (2131), and his triumph put him a very promising position going into the final round.
Board 5 perhaps presented the best bet for an upset as Ben Nguku had IM Arthur Ssegwanyi on the ropes with some clinical play, leaving the IM seated at the board in a pensive mood while he sauntered around checking out other games with a satisfied grin decorating his face. It was not long before the IM threw in the towel.
In the challengers’ section, Harmony Odhiambo (1510) and Evans Sinoya (1695) were both on maximum points going into round 6. It was Odhiambo playing with the Black pieces that won their head to head encounter, leaving him just needing a draw in the final round to bag the winner’s trophy with KES 50,000 (USD 500).
WCM Joyce Nyaruai (1692) was leading Daphne Mwikali (1462) on Buchholz in the penultimate round with both players having amassed 5.5 points, as WFM Ivy Amoko (1852) of Uganda was in third place on 4.5. It will be a Kenya versus Uganda battle for bragging rights in the final round as Daphne meets WFM Ivy Amoko as WFM JoyceNyaruai squares it out with WFM Goretti Angolikin (1669).
The 2-day junior section came to an end on Sunday and they will be back for the prize-giving ceremony to be held on Monday afternoon, where the KCB executives are expected to be in attendance.