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Why Chess Champ Njoroge is Unhappy With Performance at National Championships-Capital FM

National champion Martin Njoroge admits his performance at the ongoing Kenya National Chess Championships has not worked out to perfection as he had envisaged.

The Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) player says he was targeting a clean sweep of the nine rounds of the Open Section of the competition but has already lost one of the seven rounds played thus far at the Charter Hall in Nairobi.

“I judge my performance on how I play the actual games. Yesterday, there was a game in which my final position was okay but I lost because it was very complicated. So, I am slightly unhappy about my performance because I lost but I want to keep fighting and see what happens,” Njoroge said.

He added: “My minimum target was to clinch the title by winning nine out of nine rounds but you see yesterday I lost in one round so I wouldn’t be able to achieve a clean sweep. We are on the seventh round and so let’s see what happens in the remaining two rounds.”

The annual competition, which began on Monday and ends on Friday, has attracted approximately 200 participants from across the country and will be used by Chess Kenya to select the team to represent the country at next year’s All Africa Games in Accra, Ghana.

Newbies impress

Njoroge, who defeated former champion Mehul Gohil in last year’s edition, admitted the competition has gone up a notch as upstarts bring their A-game against experienced counterparts.

“The level of resistance I am encountering is not what I am used to in local tournaments. Everyone is motivated to compete and I am happy to see young guys on the top boards. Most of the old champions began learning chess in 2004 and it is encouraging to see the younger ones, who started learning chess as late as 2015, fighting with them for top positions,” he said.

Njoroge added: “I have been surprised by Jackson Kamau from KCB, also Robert Mwakideu and Hugh Misiko. The latter two learnt chess from 2015 and so it is inspiring to see them get on the top board.”

Returning his attention to himself, Njoroge believes it has been an eventful year for him in which he attained a FIDE rating at the Indian Olympiad.

“Excluding today, it has been an exemplary year in which I managed to achieve a FIDE rating of eight-and-a-half… which is eight wins and one draw out of 11 games at the Indian Olympiad. This is a FIDE that has not been seen in Kenya, I think, since the early 1980s so I rate it quite highly as an achievement. I also attained the FIDE Master title,” he said.

Speaking at the same time, the chief arbiter in the competition, Anthony Kionga, admitted the tables have largely turned this year as youngsters shine against the ‘dinosaurs.’

“We have witnessed a lot of growth in talent and performance. Most of the youngsters are outshining the dinosaurs. We have an eight-year-old in the competition who has so far collected four points and is crushing the experienced participants. The current player with the maximum points is a university student from Kitale who yesterday beat two former champions,” Kionga, an international arbiter of chess, said.

He further attributed the emergence of new talents to Chess Kenya’s longstanding efforts to spread the sport to the grassroots, dubbed ‘Chess Mashinani.’

The winner in the Open section will drive home a Mazda Demio and the winner in the ladies’ category walks home Ksh 100,000 richer.

By Omondi Onyatta of

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