Kenya Kenya Kenya

Damary Arita, "Weru determined to reach the highest level in chess," The Standard, 24 July 2005 (Nairobi, Kenya).

At the age of seven, children tend to show more interest in football. But not Peniel Weru (pictured right), a class three pupil at Karatina District Education Board (DEB) Primary School. He is more into chess.

For him, chess is serious business. An ever smiling Weru already has three national youth titles under his belt. They are the Nairobi Sports House Open Youth Championship, 2005 National Chess Championship 2005 and the second Annual Rosslyn Academy Open.

Weru recently represented Kenya at the International Children's Games in Serbia, Montenegro. But his trip was not without hitches. He missed the first round of the event played in a nine round Swiss system after failing to get an airticket in time. Other members of the team were
Rahul Mohan and Viswanadh Gopa Kumar.

Peniel Weru displays trophies he has won in recent days.

Weru was able to travel courtesy of well wishers. But by the time he reached Serbia, the first round had already been played. Weru managed a total of two points finishing 75 out of 88 players. He believes he could have done better had be played in the first round. He received a trophy for being the youngest player of the tournament. He was also rewarded with a chess mat, magic and magnetic chessboard and a clock.

"He is always number one or number two.
He is one boy who is very alert thanks to the game,"
~ Mburungo, Peniel's father ~

Weru was introduced to chess by his father in 2003. He has since then taken the game by storm. Weru, the only child in the family, attributes his success to his father and mother, Prisca for their support. Mburungo is a household name in Nyeri and is credited with the introduction of the game in schools such as Bishop Gatimu, Ng'andu Girls, Kirimara and Kanjuri High.

Weru says the father has ensured his exposure by entering him in various tournaments in Nyeri and Nairobi. Facilities have been a problems and Weru's father has at times been forced to improvise.

Peniel Weru Mburungo (right) moves against Viswanadh Gopa Kumar enroute to a gold medal during the Kenya National Youth Chess Championships.

"Chess is a game of wits, involving planning, focusing and evaluation of results. Once you expose pupils to it, there are high chances of them performing well in class," says Mburungo. It is for this reason that Weru has never been beyond number two in his class. "He is always number one or number two. He is one boy who is very alert thanks to the game," said the father. Lawrence Kagambi, the Kenya Chess Association (KCA) secretary is full of praise for the young Weru.

Weru believes he will one day be a Grandmaster.

Meanwhile, Kenyan youth players continue making a spirited comeback after posting poor results in the opening rounds of the ongoing
World Youth Chess Championships in Belfort,France. Aashna Dodhia leads her compatriots after collecting one and half points after four rounds. Sharan Shah, Devisalini Sivaraj, Prishail Dodhia, Charity Waweru and Ankush Nagda have one point apiece. Charles Karuga, Tina Sathyanarayan and Sayyam Shah are yet to get any points.

Earlier at the start of this world showcase event, a lot of heat was generated as many delegation heads threaten to boycott the opening ceremony following serious organisational shortcomings. Among the contentious issues were transport, below par accommodation and communication - internet was only installed after three days and the website is only partly operational.

Over 1,100 players are taking part representing 82 Federations. Tomorrow is a rest day.

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Posted by The Chess Drum: 27 July 2005