Victor Ngani and Gloria Jumba were on Sunday crowned the new men and women’s National Chess Champions at the Parklands Sports club.
Ngani, who represented Kenya at this World Olympiad in Batumi, Georgia beat Philip Singe on board three to amass 7.5 points out of a possible nine to dethrone Benjamin Magana.
Going into the final round nine on Sunday, it was a three-horse race between Matthew Kanegeni, Victor Ngani and Ben Nguku, who all stood a chance to be crowned the national champion.
It was however, board one that provided the thrill of the championship as Joseph Methu outclassed the 2003 champion and hitherto undefeated tournament leader Kanegeni with the black pieces, to send his opportunity up in smoke.
On board two, the 2016 Kenya Open champion Ben Nguku beat Githinji Hinga to finish second on also 7.5 points, but was separated from Ngani on a tie-break. This left the pundits’ favorite Kanegeni crestfallen in third place with seven points.
For his efforts, Ngani pockets Sh75,000 with a glittering trophy as well as getting a voucher for dinner for two from Ole Sereni Hotel and an air ticket to any destination in Kenya. The first runners up Ben Nguku also took home Sh.75,000.
In the ladies section, Gloria Jumba was in blistering form as she was declared the national champion with a round to spare, but that did not hinder her from trouncing Cheryl Ngima to finish the tournament unbeaten with an impressive 8.5 points, her only draw being against Daphne Mwikali in the penultimate round.
She was awarded Sh50,000 and a trophy as the dethroned national champion Woman Candidate Master (WCM) Joyce Nyaruai dispatched Mwikali in the last round to garner seven points and claim second spot. She received Sh 25,000 and a trophy.
In third place was the promising Easter Judith Awinja, who had to wade off a stiff challenge from Olympian Winnie Thitu in round nine to finish with 6.5 points and took home Sh15,000 plus a trophy.
Other winners were the veteran Michael Waliuba (5.5 points) in the U1600 ; U1400 – Lourdes Young (5 points); Top junior boy – Milton Kihara (5.5 points); Top junior girl – Cynthia Obondo (6 points) who each got Sh5,000 and a trophy.
The event that was also used as the 1st phase qualifier for the 2019 All African Games to be held in Morocco had a total cash prize of Sh400,000 with the top 20 finishers in the Open and ladies category qualifying for the second phase take will take place in February next year.
Kenya Academy of Sports (KAS) Chief Executive Gordon Oluoch was the chief guest and he challenged the winners to work hard in future events.
“Congratulations for your win but the work starts now. You must not rest on your laurels,” he said. Chess Kenya president Bernard Wanjala said the association will introduce more events next year.