Ben Nguku wins 11th Capablanca Cup
Ben Nguku won the 11th Capablanca Cup (Open Section) last weekend at the Goan Gymkhana Club with a perfect score of 4 points out of 4 rounds. He defeated Jay Naker, Kevins Riungu, Mehul Gohil and James Panchol to walk off with a glittering trophy and KES 20,000 (USD 190).
Gabriel Njuki was second with 3.5 points, and he went home with a cash prize of KES 10,000. Dominic Carlos Kiema was third with 3 points, and his winnings were KES 5,000.
Round 1 in the Open Section had an exciting encounter between 14 year old Lakshita Dutt and James Panchol, known for his swift attacking style. It was supposed to be a quick win for Panchol, but it turned out to be a marathon 4-hour battle before he could overcome the confident Lakshita!
Lakshita Dutt v James Panchol
Another thrilling game in round one was when Willy Simons castled queenside allowing Mehul Gohil to launch a fierce pawn assault.
Willy Simons v Mehul Gohil
In round 3 Ben Nguku dismissed Mehul Gohil.
Ben Nguku v Mehul Gohil
Ben Nguku overcame a stubborn James Panchol in another 4-hour contest to grab the top prize in the last and final round.
James Panchol v Ben Nguku
Dean Munene, seeded 8th at the start, grabbed his first silverware with a fine victory in the Section with three points out of 4 rounds. This section had 8 players.
Veniamin Negru v Dean Munene
WCM Lucy Wanjiru, the 2019 Kenya National Ladies Champion, found the going tough and only managed to gather 1 point from the four rounds in the U1800 Section.
WFM Lucy Wanjiru v Viraj Shah
Issac Muuo won the U1600 Section with a score of 5.5 points from 6 rounds. This section had 14 players.
Cyprian Bwire v Isaac Muuo
Sponsor of the event
Dr Mujahid Din was the sponsor of this event in honour of his late father, Mohamed Younis Din, a chess enthusiast in his days.
The event, which ran from 19th to 20th February, saw 38 players competing for a total cash prize fund of KES 74,000.
The Capablanca Cup is one of the flagship events organised by the Nairobi Chess Club. It was their first event since March 2020, when the Covid pandemic broke out.
Interesting facts about Ben Nguku
Ben Nguku Namale is one of Kenya’s most prolific players with a string of several victories. He is currently ranked number three in Kenya at 2045.
He was also the winner of the following prestigious events in the recent past – The 2016 Kenya Open, 2018 Machakos Open and the 2021 Muranga Open.
Ben Nguku first represented Kenya at the 2004 Chess Olympiad in Spain. He qualified three more times for the Olympiad (2006, 2008, 2020) but failed to travel to various circumstances, including Covid.
Ben Nguku will represent Kenya at the 2022 Olympiad once the venue and the dates are confirmed.
He twice came agonisingly close to winning the Kenya National Championship (2018 & 2019). In the 2018 edition, Nguku obtained 7.5 points, the same as the eventual winner Dr Ng’ani but had an inferior tie break.
In the 2019 edition, he faced Mehul Gohil in the last and final round. A win in this game would have given Nguku his maiden Kenya National Chess Championship title. He, however, drew the final game to Mehul Gohil and ended up in again in second place.
1st winner was Humphrey Andolo – Kenya (1997)
2nd winner Jaswinder Singh – India (1999)
3rd winner IM Elijah Emojong – Uganda (2013)
4th winner Jackson Kamau – Kenya (2014)
5th winner Peter Gilruth – Kenya (2015)
6th winner CM Haruna Nsubuga – Uganda(2016)
7th winner Joseph Methu – Kenya (2017)
8th winner James Panchol – South Sudan (2018)
9th winner Lwanga Karoli – Kenya (2019)
10th winner FM Patrick Kawuma – Uganda (2020)