The going got tough for favourites Dev Shah and Mercy Ingado who failed to defend their titles in 2018 National Youth Chess Championship that ended on Sunday at Kaimosi Girls Secondary School in Vihiga County.
A record 914 players across 12 regions namely Nairobi, Coast, North Rift, Kiambu, Mount Kenya Trans-Nzoia, Kiambu, Kisumu, Kisii, Eastern, Kakamega, Busia and hosts Vihiga took part in the tourney.
The three-day competition was organised in 12 age categories ranging from eight years to 18.
Shah, who arrived in Vihiga as the boys’ under 14 champion was floored by the sensational Timothy Mwabu of Alliance Boys.
The girls’ under 14 champion, Mercy Ingado from Huruma Girls Secondary school, was also not spared as she lost her title to Elimu School’s Vivian Muthoni.
The Under-18 girls’ category turned into a two-horse race between the reigning national champion, Riya Shah and Dorcas Wanjala (former under-16 national champion ), who made it to the last round after amassing maximum points.
The final match ended in a draw, but Riya was ranked first on higher bucholz. Others who retained their titles include Jeff Gichuki (under 14 boys), Silvia Wahito (Under-16 girls), Reeyan Gosrani and (Under-12 Boys).
Nairobi Chess Academy’s Tyler Ndati and Visa Oshwal Academy’s Nipul Janvi Shah won the Under-8 boys’ and girls’ titles respectively.
The Under 10 boys’ and girls’ titles were won by Lwanga Odongo and Amy Mutua.
The winners in the various categories qualify 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 will host Africa Youth Chess Championship in August this year.
The event caused an upsurge of hotel demands in the area and some parents accompanying players and officials had to opt to put up as far as Kisumu and Kakamega.
“I have noted amazing talents that I am sure are going to bring glory to our country. I appeal to the Ministry of Sports to continue supporting our players in international events, “Chess Kenya chairman Benard Wanjala said in his closing remarks.