Gohil wins the Ultimate Terrian Chess Challenge
Mehul Gohil matched his words with action last week at the Boma Hotel when he defeated Dr Victor Ng’ani four-nil in their cage match dubbed the ‘Ultimate Terrian Chess Challenge‘.
The match occurred on the 11th and 12th of December 2022 with four classical games and KES 40,000 (USD 350) at stake.
The match metamorphosed from a verbal spat on Whatsapp between the two former Kenya National Champions to a fully-fledged match. Dr Ng’ani, the 2018 Kenya National Champion, gladly accepted the challenge from Mehul Gohil, who was the 2019 Kenya National Championship.
Mehul heightened the tension in the match by stating that he would win the match with a decisive 4-0 score. He went further to say that Dr Ng’ani could win the KES 40,000 if he obtained at least one draw in the match!!
Off the board drama
The match did not disappoint, with Mehul winning as he predicted 4-0. However, the clash had enough drama off the board to rival the Fischer-Spassky World Championship match of 1972.
The match was almost aborted when Mehul insisted that the venue windows be closed due to the noise. Another unusual condition was that there were no spectators allowed in the room.
Gloves and face masks
For some strange reason, Victor played all the games with gloves and a mask. When asked why this is what he had to say;
‘Whenever I was playing Mehul in at least two tournaments: Machakos Open and the 2nd Phase in the last AAG qualifiers, I noticed that I would feel foggy, dizzy and disoriented at some point.
In AAG qualifiers, I was slightly better off a French Steinitz. I got a bit foggy and lost my advantage. By the endgame, I was genuinely sick and played ELO 200 chess to lose a drawn endgame.
I had gloves at the start of the game because I had entertained the possibility of something I was touching. However, I still thought I was mistaken, or overreacting or reading too much into a possible psychological response on my side.
I was perfectly fine on Sunday morning before the start of the match. Some time into the game, the fogginess started. And I had a definite tingling sensation in my right hand. With dizziness and inability to focus. Same as my other two.’
Mehul Gohil was dismissive of what Dr Ng’ani’s comments. This is what Mehul had to say about the match.
‘He was psychologically shattered after game 3. It was very visible he was very disturbed. A very confused look on his face. Some 5 minutes after that game he comes to ask me if I sprayed any religious oils or colognes on the pieces!!!!!!’
Nobody expected Dr Ng’ani to be defeated by a 4-0 scoreline. What went wrong? We may never know the answer, but we may have some clues from the book ‘Bobby Fischer goes to War’ by David Edmonds and John Eidinow.
Was this the ‘Fischer fear that Robert Byrne mentioned? or the ‘Gohil fear’ in our case?
While Dr Ng’ani was equally disappointed by his performance, one should remember that Mehul is a veteran and thrives on chess games/matches with high stakes. Mehul has won the Kenya National Championship (2014 & 2019) and the Mombasa Open (2019 & 2022). He has also represented the country at the Olympiad 2012, the All African Games (2011 & 2019) and the 2021 World Amateur Chess Championship. A true battle harden gladiator.
2023 Cage Matches
Terrian Chess Africa, the organisers of the match, has promised fans planning for other cage matches is ongoing.
Article by Kenya Chess Masala.