Kenya chess players battle for Olympiad tickets

Martin Njoroge

Martin Njoroge (right) makes a move against Mehul Gohil during the 2021 Kenya National Chess Championship at the Luke Hotel in Nairobi on December 30, 2021.

Photo credit: Chris Omollo | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Each section of the qualifiers – open and ladies has attracted 11 top players
  • Only the top five players in each category of the qualifiers, which will come to an end next weekend will qualify for the 44th Olympiad primed for Moscow in Russia from July 26 to August 8
  • In the ladies section, Woman Fide Master (WFM) and national champion Sasha Mongeli continued to rule the local women's chess scene by outsmarting Sheila Jerop of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology

The third and final phase of Team Kenya’s selection for the 2022 World Chess Olympiad kicked-off Friday at KCB Sports Club, Ruaraka in Nairobi.

Each section of the qualifiers – open and ladies has attracted 11 top players.

Only the top five players in each category of the qualifiers, which will come to an end next weekend will qualify for the 44th Olympiad primed for Moscow in Russia from July 26 to August 8.

In the first round of the open section, Candidate Master (CM) Ben Magana started brightly, his chase for a seventh Olympiad appearance with victory over Kenya National Chess Champion Martin Njoroge.

Magana, a Mechanical Engineer by profession previously competed in the 2006, 2008, 2012, 2014 and 2018 Olympiads, which took place in Italy, Germany, Turkey, Norway, and Georgia respectively.

Magana and Njoroge had qualified for the 2020 event that was planned for Russia but aborted due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Njoroge is looking to clinch the ticket again, and make his Olympiad debut.

Fast-rising teenager Robert Mcligeyo upset former Olympiad Jackson Kamau while former Chess Kenya Chairman Githinji Hingi trounced Isaac Mukoko.

Chris Maina and James Kabui beat Lenny Mataiga and John Milton respectively while Ben Nguku who is also a former Olympiad got a bye.

In the ladies section, Woman Fide Master (WFM) and national champion Sasha Mongeli continued to rule the local women's chess scene by outsmarting Sheila Jerop of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT).

Woman Candidate Master (WCM) Joyce Nyaruai had a slow start after being held by little-known Vivian Muthoni while World Women’s Amatur Chess Champion Gleda Madelta of Equity Chess Club beat Nakuru Chess Club's Jully Mutisya.

JKUAT's Triza Mwendwa defeated compatriot Veronicah Matei while little-known Nicole Albright also registered a bright start with victory over Cynthia Awino of Technical University of Kenya.

Former national champion and WCM Lucy Wanjiru got a bye. Among the 11 female players, only Mongeli, Nyaruai and Wanjiru have previously competed in the Olympiad.

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