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Meerabbas Afzali Memorial – James Panchol triumphs

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Meerabbas Afzali Memorial – James Panchol triumphs

The Meerabbas Afzali Memorial Chess Tournament, held at The Goan Gymkhana Club on May 4th and 5th, 2024, was a resounding success.  

The event featured just over 110 participants competing in three separate sections (Open, Under 1800, and U1600) for an overall cash prize of KES 50,000 (Kenyan Shillings) and glittering trophies and medals as consolation prizes.  

The Meerabbas Afzali Memorial Chess Tournament was held as a poignant tribute to the late Meerabbas Afzali, an esteemed Afghani national and dedicated member of the Nairobi Chess Club. On the second day of the tournament, a one-minute silence was observed in his memory.

Another exciting aspect of this event was that it was the first Kenyan chess event to feature on an Afghanistan TV station. You can watch the clip from minute 27 on this link.

The playing hall of the Meerabbas Afzali Memorial Chess Tournament.
The playing hall of the Meerabbas Afzali Memorial Chess Tournament. Photo credit Kim Bhari.

The Open Section

James Panchol emerged as the undisputed champion of the Open Section, showcasing his mastery with a flawless score of 4/4.  His stellar performance earned him a well-deserved trophy and a cash prize of KES 20,000.

Mehul Gohil, the three-time Kenya National Champion (2016, 2019, 2022), who was appearing in his first event of the year, obtained 3.5 points to win KES 15,000.

This section had 26 participants, including most of the 2024 Kenya Olympiad Team (Ian Mutuge, Elvis Likoko, Robert Mcligeyo, & Matthew Kanegeni).

The four-round event had the classical time control of 90 minutes plus 30 seconds per move.

Slav Chvoro (left) a member of Nairobi Chess Club presents the trophy to the winner James Panchol.
Slav Chvoro (left) a member of Nairobi Chess Club presents the trophy to the winner James Panchol. Photo credit Allan Rongoey.

The U1800 Section

Allan Chumba and Cosmas Mitei were the joint winners of this section with 3.5 points and equally shared the cash prize of KES 15,000. 

However, Allan Chumba, who had a superior tie-break, was declared the winner and went home with the winner’s trophy.

This section with 34 contestants was equally competitive over the four rounds and ran with the classical time control of 90 minutes plus 30 seconds per move.

Allan Chumba (left) receives his prize from Peter Gilruth the Vice-Chaiirman of Nairobi Chess Club.
Allan Chumba (left) receives his prize from Peter Gilruth the Vice-Chaiirman of Nairobi Chess Club. Photo credit Allan Rongoey.

The U1600 Section

Hussein Shamate won in this section with 5.5 points, while Ivy Rachier was second with five points.

Angel Muthoni Gilana was third with five points to complete the podium finish.

The other age group winners included

Zena Zayn Favour (U8) with 4/6 points.

Faraja Mumo Muli (U10) with 5/6 points.

Franceis Nderitu Gacheru (U12) with 4/6 points.

Gianni Tuli (U14) with 5/6 points.

Garvit Bhasin (U16) with 4/6 points.

Kerry Kiambi (U18) with 3/6 points.

This section with 50 players had a time control of 60 minutes to complete the game.

Hussein Shamte the winner of the U1600 Section. Photo credit Kim Bhari.
Hussein Shamte the winner of the U1600 Section. Photo credit Kim Bhari.
Akira Yoshida who ended up 2nd in the recent 2024 Kenya National Youth Chess Championship U16 category in action during the Meerabbas Afzali Memorial Tournament.
Akira Yoshida who ended up 2nd in the recent 2024 Kenya National Youth Chess Championship U16 category in action during the Meerabbas Afzali Memorial Tournament. Photo credit Kim Bhari.
Leonard Langat the Secretary of Nairobi Chess Club in action in the U1600 Section. Photo credit Kim Bhari.
Leonard Langat the Secretary of Nairobi Chess Club in action in the U1600 Section. Photo credit Kim Bhari.
The glittering trophies and medals on offer.
The glittering trophies and medals on offer. Photo credit Kim Bhari.

Event poster.

Meerabbas Afzali

Meerbbas Afzali was born in 1972 in Agar, Ghazni Province, Afghanistan, into a sports-loving and academically inclined family. 

He discovered his passion for chess at 22 and played chess in Afghanistan and Iran for some time.  In 2004, he took over the presidency of the Ghazni Province Chess Federation and, through his efforts, became recognised as the top chess player in Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011.

However, in 2012, he decided to leave Afghanistan and migrated to Kenya, where he joined as a member and participated in several events organised by Nairobi Chess Club.  

Unfortunately, he succumbed to Covid and died in 2021.

His wife and six children migrated to Canada in 2023.

The ever jovial Meerabbas Afzali (extreme right) posing with members of Nairobi Chess Club before a League game. From left Vasant Ramesh, Maxwell Juma, Peter Gilruth, Meerabbas Afzali while in front Mushfig Habilov. Photo credit Kim Bhari.
The ever jovial Meerabbas Afzali (extreme right) posing with members of Nairobi Chess Club before a League game. From left Vasant Ramesh, Maxwell Juma, Peter Gilruth, Meerabbas Afzali while in front Mushfig Habilov. Photo credit Kim Bhari.

Links

Meerabbas Afzali Memorial Chess Tournament on chess-results.com.

Photo album from the Meerabbas Memorial Chess Tournament by Allan Rongoey.

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