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Reflection on the 2019 African Games

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Reflection on the African Games

Mehul Gohil (aka Gorilla), is a well known chess player from Kenya.  He is an author with a blunt but entertaining writing style.

Just for the record he is one of Kenya’s top players. He was the 2014 Kenya National Champion and represented Kenya a number of times.  He played board 1 at the 2012 Olympiad and represented Kenya at the 2011 and 2019 African Games.

Mehul Gohil recently wrote a short reflection on the African Games that took place in Morocco in August 2019.

Mehul Gohil who played board 1 for Kenya. Photo credit Mohamed Bounaji
Mehul Gohil who played board 1 for Kenya. Photo credit Mohamed Bounaji

Wednesday Gorilla musings

Many gazelles have inundated my inbox with queries about what happened to the traditional Gorilla report after an international outing (AAG, Morocco).

The truth is I have nothing much to say about it. It was a disappointing experience on and off the board. I performed poorly due to various on and off-board factors. My fighting spirit was killed just within 24 hours of landing in Morocco. It was not a memorable trip for me. Certainly nowhere as memorable as the Maputo and Istanbul outings (of which I have nostalgias). It is a trip I wish to forget. I am now recovering and relaxing and hope to be back to playing strong chess soon. Morocco is history.

I will, however, briefly talk about some chess lessons learnt there. It might be of help to others. And later I want to comment on the improving and impressive play of two rising Kenyan stars:

Mehul Gohil posing with some charming volunteers at the 2019 Africa Games in Casablanca.
Mehul Gohil posing with some charming volunteers at the 2019 Africa Games in Casablanca.

Chess lessons from Casablanca

Openings

The rest of Africa is developing its opening depth to an unprecedented level. Kenyans are far behind. We need to invest time in opening research and creating depth in our repertoires. It will mean getting obsessed with software, opening DVDs, online mining of databases etc. We need to shift from the analogue mindsets to the digital mindsets. The likes of Cameroon and Sao Tome are already at our levels (referring to their top players).

These guys around Africa are bridging the gap by intensively using their computers and eating lessons out of the software for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The openings game has undergone a drastic change. Today’s opening DVD’s are like a full combo…openings + middle game patterns + tactics training + resulting in endgame structures. Go digital. That is the only way now. And our openings need to achieve a suitable depth if we are going to be competitive on the big stage.

Left to right: Graciellah Kigeni Wads, Goretti Angolikin, Gorilla and Phiona during the 2012 Istanbul Olympiad.
Left to right: Graciellah Kigeni Wads, Goretti Angolikin, Gorilla and Phiona during the 2012 Istanbul Olympiad.
Blitz

We have been told our over-focus on openings and indulgence in blitz is bad. Well, after Casablanca this is what I have to say: THAT ADVICE IS BULLSHIT.

Blitz is good. Binge on Blitz. It helps test out your openings, helps you to familiarise with technique, helps one to develop the methods for winning won games.

Arrogance at the board: Another bullshit advice is this: Be humble at the board blah blah. Well, it is BULLSHIT ADVICE. A whiff of arrogance is very important OTB. It is a game of war. You must be confident when you come to play. You must develop a level of pride if you are to be competitive on the big stage. These players at AAG had that. I lost my mojo after off-board things, and my arrogance evaporated. And as a result, I was weaker at the board. The arrogance is an asset in chess. Cultivate it, use it. You have to be confident at the board.

Mehul Gohil with WIN Mezioud Amina from Algeria.
Mehul Gohil with WIN Mezioud Amina from Algeria.

Rising Stars

I am happy to see James Kabui and Milton Kihara now playing even better. I am warning my fellow dinosaurs that these two guys are dangerous. They are improving by the month. They are very dangerous, and any dinosaur will have to show them full and proper respect OTB. Otherwise, you will be crushed.

It indicates an emerging theme to the upcoming National Championships in December. I think it will be very hotly contested like no other National Championships before, and not because of the prizes on offer (though it is a significant factor as well). It will be a theme of new generation vs dinosaurs. And I expect the quality of play to be high because of this. Dinosaurs are going to be forced to adapt. Things are changing. Dinosaurs will have to go digital, change their approach, show a newfound level of discipline if they want to survive the Rising Stars tsunami.

Interesting days ahead.

Mehul Gohil with the charming IM Tania Sachdev of India at the 2012 Chess Olympiad in Istanbul, Turkey.
Mehul Gohil with the charming IM Tania Sachdev of India at the 2012 Chess Olympiad in Istanbul, Turkey.

Links

Standings & Results of 2019 African Games.

FM Harold Wanyama grabs bronze medal at African Games.

African Games to feature chess.

Mehul Gohil crowned King of AAG.

Gorilla goes to the Queen of Katwe movie.