Ex-champions Equity survive to stay on top

Monday October 9 2017

Former national champion Mehul Gohil ponders his next move during a past tournament. Gohil  will lead a star-studded NCC side in the Strathmore University Rapid Chess Challenge as they aim to win their first title of the year. PHOTO | FILE |

Nairobi Chess Club's Mehul Gohil ponders his next move during a past tournament. PHOTO | FILE |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By BRIAN YONGA
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Equity Bank maintained a one-point lead at the top of the Kenya National Chess League despite drawing 2.5-2.5 against Anchor Chess Club over the weekend.

The former league champions are on 44 points, with archrivals and nine-time champions KCB second a point back with Nairobi Chess Club, also on 43 points, placed third. 

Nairobi Chess Academy and Checkmates Club round off the top five places.

The tense five-game league match saw Equity’s Fide Master (FM) Steve Ouma win the first game against Anchor’s Edwin Okoth on board one. Anchor equalise by winning on board three.

The results replicated on boards two and board four respectively. With the scores standing at two wins and two losses for each team, attention shifted to board five where Equity was counting on Daphne Mwikali to give them victory.

Facing off against teenage player Pranjal Ameetkumar, Mwikali’s odds were already stacked against her by the fifth move. She kicked off with her usual “English Opening,” which had won most of her previous games, only to be confronted by an aggressive defense at centre-board.

COUNTER-ATTACK

Ameetkumar’s counter-attack weakened Mwikali’s pawn structure and blocked her dark-square Bishop, effectively making her a piece down. Mwikali, however, made a comeback towards the end of the game.

With less than 10 minutes to go for each player and little time to think for a good move, Ameetkumar’s solid centre collapsed and Mwikali’s blocked Bishop bounced back into play.

Ameetkumar bowed to time pressure and forced a stalemate as the game ended in a draw.