Chess Kenya has moved to grow the game locally by introducing a second tier of the Kenya Premier Chess League.
Twelve teams have confirmed participation in the Kenya Chess Super League, which will run concurrently with the Kenya Premier Chess League.
This season’s competition serves-off on February 29.
Isaac Babu, the chairman Kenya Premier Chess League said the idea to introduce the second division is to accommodate more teams that have in the past shown interest of featuring in the main league.
“Many teams have reached to us that they want to play in the league. Because we cannot have all of them in the main league, we saw it wise to come up with the second division to accommodate them there,” said Babu, adding that they intend to grow the game further by introducing a third tier.
Following the development, the bottom three teams in the top flight will be relegated, to give room for the top three teams in the second division to be promoted.
In last year’s Kenya Premier Chess League, where Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) emerged winners after garnering 78 points, the bottom five teams were relegated to the second division.
It means that only 16 teams will feature in this season’s league, which is in its 31st edition. In last year’s event, 22 teams took part.
The teams that were relegated are: Light House Chess Club, Stima Chess Club, Strathmore University, Day Star University and Prox Chess Club.
Babu said that they expect a more competitive season, following the introduction of the second division. “We expect fireworks in every round because teams in the top league will be fighting not to be relegated, while those in the lower league will be fighting to be promoted,” he said.
The chairman also revealed that they expect to land a sponsor for this year’s Kenya Premier Chess League. He said the deal is in the final stages and that it will be announced in two weeks’ time.
Equity Bank sponsored the 2018 league at a tune of Sh100,000. Last year, the league lacked a sponsor.
Meanwhile, the second edition of the Queens Rapid Chess Tournament will take place on Saturday at Makini School in Nairobi.
The organisers said they expect about 100 players in the ladies only event, which is aimed at encouraging more ladies to play chess. It is open to all ages and will be played in six rounds, with each lasting 25 minutes only. The top 10 players will receive cash awards.