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West Pokot comes alive with chess


West Pokot comes alive with chess

West Pokot is the latest Kenyan county to see some exciting chess action for the first time.

Vincent Ambani, a Propoi Girls High School teacher, took the giant stride when he hosted the first-ever chess tournament in the county.

We are privileged to present a short report done by Vincent Ambani on the event.

Propoi Girls Chess Club Tournament

The game of chess is a relatively new venture in West Pokot. I pioneered the game’s introduction in West Pokot at Propoi Girls’ High School in 2018. I thank my principal, Ms Jamas N Murray, for buying into my passion for the game and giving me the latitude to introduce the game in her school.

Since then, I have recruited several schools in the region. On board today are Ortum Boys High School, Chewoyet National School, Sekerr Secondary School, The Cranes Academy and St. Sophia Pkomo Girls’ High School.

A busload of kids about to make history in West Pokot!
A busload of kids about to make history in West Pokot!

I hope to get more on board. The pace of the game in the schools is low due to inadequate funding as MoE does not currently sponsor it.

The tournament attracted 68 young chess players from two counties, i.e. Trans-Nzoia and West Pokot. The event had the following age categories – U12, U16 and U18.

The playing hall.
The playing hall.

Of importance to note is that some players of U8, U10 and U12 volunteered to play in U16, and they did pretty well.

The tournament used the Swiss System with 30+0 time control over five rounds.

The playing hall.
The playing hall.

Prize winners

The following players emerged top in various categories;

  • U-8. Gift Giddel 
  • U-10. Gavril Jamar 
  • U-12. Vansh Manish 
  • U-14 Husnah Chepkemoi 
  • U-16. Nelly Chepyatich 
  • U-18. Jastine Mwangi 

All the winners received medals and certificates.

Poster for the event.
Poster for the event.

Chess is yet to attract sponsors and partners though there are friends who are willing to hold hands. For example, in organizing the tournament, a friend volunteered to make medals and prepare certificates for the players.

About the author

Vincent Ambani is the pioneer of chess in West Pokot and is an Accredited National Arbiter by FIDE and an Accredited Chess School Instructor. He has introduced the game of chess across West Pokot and is looking forward to continuing to spread it even further.



Facts about West Pokot County

West Pokot County is a county of Kenya. Its capital and largest town is Kapenguria.

West Pokot.
West Pokot.



Flag of West Pokot.
Flag of West Pokot.


Saiwa Swamp National Park

A veritable haven for nature lovers, the Saiwa Swamp National Park is a forested paradise filled with exotic flowers, trees, and birds. It is also the habitat of the rare and endangered semi-aquatic Sitatunga antelope and a preserve for the rare De Brazza’s monkey.

Sitatunga antelope.
Sitatunga antelope. Photo credit Wikicommons.
De Brazza’s monkey
De Brazza’s monkey. Photo credit Wikicommons.

Nasolot National Reserve

Nasolot National Reserve was gazetted in 1979 and consisted of 9,200 hectares of beautifully rugged land. The Nasolot National Reserve is located to the north of Mount Melo. The reserve is quite remote, which means few visitors and a chance to be at one with nature in the seemingly endless plains within its borders.

Kapenguria Museum

The six most important figures in the war for independence were imprisoned at the spot where the Kapenguria museum is situated in the town of Kapenguria.

To preserve the history of the struggle for independence, the National Museums of Kenya, with financial support from the Dutch-funded Arid and Semi-Arid Lands project in West Pokot, preserved and rehabilitated the prison.

Turkwel Gorge Dam

The county has incredible scenic viewpoints at the Turkwel dam. The Kenya Power Lighting Company constructed the Turkwel Hydro Power plant.


The Nyanza South KNYCCC Regional Qualifiers.

KNYCC West Kenya Region.

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