Nairobi — The 40th edition of the Kenya National Chess Championship will be held from December 12 to 16th at Parklands Sports Club.
The five tournament is the climax of Chess Kenya's activity for 2018 and is most anticipated in their calendar.
This year's event has a record Sh400,000 prize money for the winners and is therefore expected to provide fierce competition.
There are a total of 10 prizes in Open section with the winner walking away with Sh100,000. The ladies will play in their own separate category and will also have the same number of winners as in Open section.
Other prizes will be awarded to best player rated under 1600 Elo, under 1400 Elo and best juniors under the age of 20 years (a boy and a girl).
The reigning National Champion Benjamin Magana is expected to face stiff competition from his rivals who have been training for the event since June.
The main opposition will mostly come from his teammate Tactician Joseph Methu, Gohil Mehul and Jackson Kamau. Other contenders in open section include Githinji Hinga,Dr. Victor Ngani, Steve Ouma and Nathan Ateka.
The reigning ladies champion Joyce Nyaruai is expected to face an uphill task to defend the title. This year's performance puts two new kids on the block ahead of her in many top-rated tournament. Sasha Mwongeli from Technical University of Kenya has been on the rise having staged the best performance during world Olympiad in Batumi, Georgia with 7/8 score in her debut.
She was awarded the coveted woman FIDE master title. The other is Lucy Wanjiru from University of Nairobi who not only score well at World Olympiad in her debut but also is the top lady currently in the league. Other top contenders in the lady's category include Gloria Jumba (KCB) and Daphne Mwikali (Equity Bank)
The tournament will also be used to select a five-player team, Both Men and Ladies, for next year's All Africa games to be held in October in Morocco. The national championship will act as the first phase of selection process where top 20 players will proceed to second phase.
The tournament will also be used to select top under 20 Juniors to represent Kenya in Africa Junior Chess Championship to be held in Uganda from December 28th to January 4 ,2019. The junior, a boy and a girl will be fully sponsored to battle out with Africa finest chess players to qualify for world junior championship 2019.
"we are expecting very huge turn up this year since we have increased prize fund. There is also huge interest to qualify for All Africa Games and this will make one of the toughest event this year. Chess Kenya is looking forward to make this event the biggest on its calendar and in future," said Benard Wanjala, Chess Kenya President
The tournament will run for nine rounds. Each player will be given 90 minutes plus 30 seconds each game. Registration deadline is December 10 with participants in the open category paying Sh1,500 while Juniors and ladies will pay Sh1,000 each.