Chess Kenya has introduced Grand Prix chess events to help in selecting national team players for the 2016 Chess Olympiad to be held in Baku, Azerbaijan.
In the new initiative, Chess Kenya plans to hold up to 10 tournaments by May next year which will run independently of the league. As a result, more players will get exposure and this will help spur competition as well as performance.
At the end of the grand prix, players will be rated according to their performance. Top performers will earn a place in the national teams.
Githinji Hinga, the CK chairman said clubs will have the freedom to host some of the tournaments. “The idea is that instead of players qualifying from just three tournaments, they get to take part in several events which is a bit fair. This gives more flexibility to players because they are not always on form.”
This year, Chess Kenya plans to hold more tournaments across the country with a focus on towns like Bungoma, Kiambu, Mombasa, Kisumu and Nakuru. Hinga noted that they are ready to listen to any club organizing a tournament that meets their criteria and standards.
He added that Chess Kenya will encourage clubs to incorporate more female players because their numbers are not satisfactory. “In the past, we had the qualifying tournaments concentrated in Nairobi which locked out many players from upcountry.
Last weekend, we had many of such players taking part in the Daystar championship and had the opportunity to compete with regulars. It's a win-win situation because we are bringing the qualifiers close to players.”
Chess Grand Prix starts at Daystar
The annual Daystar University Chess Championship held over the weekend in Athi River was the first event in the grand prix initiative.
Some 133 players from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and South Sudan took part in the event which was divided into four sections.
In the prestige section, four players tied at 5/7 points with Buchholz separating the tie breaks. Kenneth Omollo, Candidate Masters Haruna Nsubuga and Ben Magana as well as Hinga who was the defending champion came out tops after gruelling seven rounds.
Each player walked home with Sh.18,000 after sharing the prize money. International Masters Elijah Emojong and Arthur Ssegwanyi from Uganda won the open section with 6/7 points each and took home Sh.20,000 in prize money.
Third place was a tie of four players with 5.5/7 points namely Wal Joseph, Peter Diing, Joseph Methu and Brian Kadenge who won Sh. 4,300 each.
Woman FIDE Master Ivy Amoko of Uganda emerged the winner in ladies' section with 6.5/7 points and collected Sh. 20,000 prize money. Jumba Gloria was second with 5.5/7 points and won Sh.15, 000 prize money .
Woman Candidate Master Jane Wambugu finished third with 5/7 points and took home Sh.10, 000. Former Olympians Purity Maina and Isabelle Asiema were joint fourth and were awarded Sh.2,500 each.
Youngster Vihaan Kumar from Premier School announced her presence by winning the juniors section with a maximum 7/7 points. Odongo Lwanga from Consolata School came second with 5.5/7 points while Davies Musiko and Reuben Githaiga tied at third with 4.5/7 points.
In the higher learning institutions category, hosts Daystar University scooped the top honors with Strathmore University coming second and Kenyatta University settled for third.
Equity Bank won the best institution team category while the rookie category award went to Mawei Tit from South Sudan.