A record 1200 teens have been invited for the National Youth Chess Championship to be held at Kaimosi Girls, Vihiga County from March 16 to 18.
The three-day event will see boys and girls between the ages of 8 and 18 compete for top honours, with the winners in the categories qualifying to represent the country in various international tournaments this year.
Kenya qualified to participate in the Africa Schools Chess Championship to be held in June in Pretoria, South Africa, World Youth Chess Championship set for October in Greece, World Cadets Chess Championship to be held in November in Spain and the Africa Junior Chess Championship in December set for Uganda.
Kenya is also set host Africa Youth Chess Championship in August this year. Chess Kenya held regional qualifiers from last month till last weekend with 1816 players taking part in the countrywide qualifiers.
Mount Kenya Region qualifiers, which were held over the weekend, had the highest turn out with 570 players fighting out at Bishop Gatimu Secondary School.
Chess Kenya chairman Benard Wanjala attributes the high turnout to the roll out of the Chess in Schools program last year.
Chess Kenya has partnered with Kenya Academy of Sports (KAS) to introduce chess in all counties. KAS has distributed 5000 chess boards donated by Kasparov Chess Foundation to all counties through its sport officers.
“The national event will be closely contested if the regional qualifiers where anything to go by. It is impressive to see so many young people taking up chess and we look forward to a great weekend,” Wanjala said.
He called on counties and sponsors to support chess programs due to their many educational benefits.
Last year, the federation was able to send a number of juniors to three international tournaments.