The battle for tickets to represent Kenya at this year World Chess Olympiad in Moscow, Russia later in the year entered home stretch on Friday at Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) Sports Club in Nairobi.
Eleven men and 11 ladies are fighting to finish in the top five positions in every category to get a chance to represent Kenya at the prestigious event, which will take place in from August 5-18.
The games are being played in round-robin format. They are taking place this weekend and next weekend after which Chess Kenya will name the players who have qualified for the Chess Olympiad.
In round one matches of the third and final phase of the Olympiad qualifiers, the 2019 Kenya National Champion and Woman Candidate Master (WCM) Lucy Wanjiru got-off to a slow start, as she shared spoils with Daphe Mwikale of Equity Chess Club.
Wanjiru is seeking to represent Kenya in the Chess Olympiad for the second time in a row after featuring in the 2018 competition held in Batumi, Georgia.
It was the same fate for top seed Joyce Nyaruai, also a WCM, as she tied with Saha Mongeli, a Women Fide Mastaer (WFM).
Wanjiru and Nyaruai got the WCM title after scoring 50 per cent of the nine matches they played in the 2018 Olympiad.
Mongeli scored 65 per cent of the nine matches to be crowned WFM.
Mwenda Triza of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (Jkuat) and Tuk’s Cynthia Awino started brightly after seeing-off their respective opponents in the round one matches.
Cheryl Ngima and Julie Mutisya of Nakuru Chess Club also shared spoils.
In the men’s category, reigning national champion Gohil Merul beat Robert Mcligeyo of Nacha Kings Chess Club. KCB’s Ricky Sang, whose strength is 1976, was too good for his teammate Philip Mbawala. Martin Njoroge and Jackson Kamau all of KCB also shared spoils.
KCB’s Ben Nguku and Joseph Murague also won their round one matches.
In the 2018 Georgia, which attracted 185 countries, Kenya were seeded 137 but finished 143.
Chess Kenya Secretary General John Mukabi said that they expect a better performance in this year’s event, as they have a strong field of players in the third phase qualifiers.
“The players there (third phase Olympiad qualifiers) are the best in the country. They are likely to do better in Russia,” said Mukabi.