Kenyan Chess Kings provide hope for future!

Knight Mysterious, "Omolo Leads Nairobi in Regional Tourney," East African Standard (Nairobi, Kenya)

Reigning national champion, Ken Omolo, will spearhead Kenya's challenge at the inaugural Regional Open International championship at The Stanley over the Easter Holiday. Omolo has been in great form for the past year and has notched up wins in several tournaments the most notable being the Nationals where he outclassed the best players in the country.

Omolo has represented Kenya in two Olympiads - at Elista Kalmykia Republic in 1998 and in Istanbul, Turkey 2000. He has also represented the country in zonals in Egypt. Kenya's performance at the zonals which is the preliminary stage of the World championships has been pathetic. All the local lads who have been to the zonals have finished last.  International success has proved to be elusive.

In fact, the only Kenyan to have made any impression internationally is five-time former national champion,
Humphrey Andolo. Andolo the 1990 Kenya Open champion - the premier event in the local chess calendar - made history when he became the first Kenyan to win a title in a major event outside the country when he won the NRM open International in Kampala in 1997. Andolo ranks among the country's best hopes during the Easter event and has graduated to the veteran ranks to join a list of a tireless playing group which include John Mukabi, Owino Magana, Rodgers Adal, Edwin Kinyanjui, Zebedee Opore, Belan Kidula, Allan Murungi, Martin Oyamo, Clement Miheso, and Larry Kagambi to name but a few.

Kenneth Omolo of Kenya. Courtesy of

Kenneth Omolo
Humphrey Andolo of Kenya.Courtesy of

Humphrey Andolo

However, the fact that no major title has been won by our home-grown players should not be taken to mean the country lacks resource for the sport.  Administrative problems have hampered the growth of the game at grassroots level and credit should be given to an emerging group of trainers who are out to improve the standards of the game at the junior level. They include Allan Murungi, Matthew Kanegeni, Kim Bhari, Steve Ouma and Kagambi.

The Kenya Chess Association has recently been activating the chess scene. In a move which should bring about a total change for the good of the sport - organising the first regional championships and Kenya National Chess league which is set to kick-off on April 20 at the Seasons Restaurant. 
Ben Magana, Kenya's top-rated player, should have come of age and is expected to be among the favourites for the title.  Others are Kanegeni, Nathan Ateka, William Wachania, Patrick Ndungu, Philip Singe, Alex Makatia, Lawrence Khaduli, Andolo Ambasi, Peter Jaoko, Kepha lsoe and Joseph Sompisha.

While it may seem to be unclear the prospects of Kenya players at senior level it is quite different for juniors - specifically the 14 and under category. Here the country can boast of talent which call take on other players from any part of the continent.

Posted by The Chess Drum: 25 March 2002