Ugandan International Master (IM) Arthur Ssegwanyi is expected in Kenya on Wednesday to steer the national team in the Africa Online Individual Chess Championships (AOICC) set for January 29 to February 7.
Looking to start 2021 brightly by performing well in the championship, Chess Kenya settled on six of the 10 top players, who since last year have been training hard for the 2020 World Chess Olympiad, which has since been cancelled.
The delayed Olympiad, which was to take place this summer, was cancelled last December after hosts Russia opted to stage the 2022 event instead.
The six players who qualified for the Olympiad and will represent Kenya at the AOICC are Woman Candidate Master (WCM) Joyce Nyaruai, Ricky Sang and Jackson Kamau all of KCB Chess Club. The rest are Woman Fide Master (WFM) Sasha Mongeli (Nakuru Chess Club), Lucy Wanjiru (Anchor Chess Club) and Glenda Matelda (Equity Chess Club).
They will be joined by KCB's Martin Njoroge and Filip Singe, Robert Macligeo (Makini School) and Mehul Gohil (Nairobi Chess Club). Macligeo and Singe will feature in the Under-20 and 50 categories respectively.
Candidate Master (CM)Ben Magana and Moses Andiwoh will captain the men's and women's team respectively. The team of 12 are currently honing their skills virtually before convening on Thursday at a Nairobi hotel for in-person training under the watch of IM Ssegwanyi.
"Performing well is critical. We needed someone who can tune the team into a playing mood and that is why we are bringing in Ssegwanyi," said Chess Kenya president Benard Wanjala.
He added that Malaysian coach Peter Long, who has been training the national team since last year could not travel to Kenya to lead the team in the competition due to travel restrictions caused by Covid-19.
Ssegwanyi, 32, was awarded the IM title in 2015 after winning the Zone 4.2 Individual Championship.
IM is the second most coveted title in chess competition after Grandmaster (GM). Ssegwanyi has played for the Ugandan chess team since 2012.
Apart from paying the team's participating fee in the championships, Wanjala said that the government is also paying part of Ssegwanyi's dues. To compete in the tournament, each player must part with $60 (Sh6000).
The championships will take place in nine rounds and the player who garners the most points being declared the champion. The winner in the open section (men) and women's section will receive Sh 300000(USD 3000) and Sh20000 (USD 2000) respectively.