Underdogs bite hard at Kenya Open

What you need to know:

  • In the Ladies Section, tournament favourite Woman Candidate Master (WCM) Joyce Nyaruai had a perfect start as she defended the title against an army of determined players.
  • The section remains unpredictable as national champion Gloria Jumba and Candidate Master (CM) Sasha Mwongeli also got off to winning starts.

Defending champion Fide Master (FM) Harold Wanyama was among the top-rated players who lost to underdogs as the 2019 Kenya Open Chess tournament kicked off Friday at the KCB Leadership Centre, Karen.

Ugandan Wanyama lost to home player Tom Amwai, while other bigwigs who had disappointing starts include Kenyan Olympians, Ben Nguku, Jackson Kamau and Ricky Sang, all who lost their round one games to up and coming players.

Ugandan Ssonko Mathias also drew his first game at the 40th edition of the annual tourney which runs till Easter Monday.

Among the giant killers was Timothy Mwabu, 15, from Alliance Boys High School, who earned his place on the table of champions, when he floored Candidate Master (CM) Ricky Sang in the opening round.

Eyes are now fixed on the chess prodigy, who has dominated the junior section as the National champion for the last three years.

“I am under no pressure at this competition and just want to gain the necessary experience to improve my game,” Mwabu said on Friday.

Another junior, Robert Mcligeyo from Logos Christian school, squeezed past the most capped player in the country, Candidate Master (CM) John Mukabi.

Mcligeyo finished the game in a brilliant combination that forced a mate in all defences available.

He was runners-up in the under-14 category at the recent Kenya National Youth Chess championship held in Bishop Gatimu Ngandu Girls, Nyeri County.

In the Ladies Section, tournament favourite Woman Candidate Master (WCM) Joyce Nyaruai had a perfect start as she defended the title against an army of determined players.

The section remains unpredictable as national champion Gloria Jumba and Candidate Master (CM) Sasha Mwongeli also got off to winning starts.

The tournament, which is sponsored by KCB, has attracted more than 150 players from Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan and Somalia.

The event is separated into three categories, Open Section which is eligible for all players, Ladies Section which is closed to ladies only and Junior Section which is for anyone under the age of 18 years.

The winner in the Open section will walk away with Sh100,000 with the top lady earning Sh50,000. The junior winners will earn medals and certificates.

The Junior section will be played on Saturday and Sunday over six rounds, with a time control of 60 minutes per player to finish.

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