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History of Nairobi Chess Club

Nairobi Chess Club was officially registered on 26th February 1958 and is the oldest chess club in Kenya and probably in East Africa. 

Records however indicate that the club was in existence even before that.  An extract from the British Chess Magazine volume 62 of 1922 is shown below:

Various events were held under its umbrella and unfortunately there are no photos or records for this period of the club.

It has played a key role in the development of chess in Kenya.  Chess Kenya (formerly Kenya Chess Association) was only formed about18 years later on 22nd September 1976.

Past officials of this club include;

Noel James Roughton (Chairman) who died on 4th July 1953 and who was the European Champion of Kenya in 1951.

 

C:\Users\Admin\Documents\Personal\chess\pelley.jpg
Late Peter LePelly (Chairman)

  • Aslam Adam (Tournament Director)
  • Mr Young (Chairman)
  • Karl Lisner (Secretary)
  • Sam Oulo (Chairman)
  • Clement Miheso (Chairman)

The club used to meet on a weekly basis at the French Cultural Centre and at the Devon Hotel.

The above photo shows Nairobi Chess Club winning team in a 1980 team event.  Standing left to right is Joseph Kaamu, Richard Polaczek (currently an International Master and has plays for Belgium), Nazir Lome (played in the 1976 Olympiad), Managing Director of Robbialac Paints (sponsor), Aslam Adam (resides in London, UK), Saif Kanani (Silver medal in the 1980 Chess Olympiad played in Malta), AWL Turner and person in the wheelchair is Hofelick who worked with the German Embassy.

From 1979 to 1992  Nairobi Chess Club ran the successful Kenya Open Chess Tournament that was sponsored by Pan Paper Ltd of Webuye, Kenya.  This event was traditionally held over the Easter weekend.  The event used to attract a huge number of foreigners particularly Ugandan.

Past winners of the Kenya Open include;

Year

Winner

Counrtry

# Players

Dates

Sponsor

1979

Richard Polaczek

Belgium

 

 

Pan Paper

1980

Saif Kanani

 

 

 

Pan Paper

1981

Aslam Adam

 

 

 

Pan Paper

1982

Richard Polaczek

Belgium

 

 

Pan Paper

1983/84/85

Details not available

 

 

 

Pan Paper

1986/87/88/89

Emmanuel Kabuye

Uganda

 

 

Pan Paper

1990

Willy Zabasajja

Uganda

 

13th – 16th Apr 90

Pan Paper

1991

Humphrey Andolo

Kenya

202

29th  Mar–1st  Apr 91

Pan Paper

1992

Edward Ssentongo

Uganda

230

29th - 31st May & 1st  Jun 92

Pan Paper

1993

Emmanuel Kabuye

Uganda

100

9th to 12th Apr 93

Various

1994

Not held

 

 

 

 

1995

Jim Burnett

England

185

14th to 17th Apr 95

CAL - IBM

1996

Watu Kobese

South Africa

155

31st May to 2nd Jun 96

Various

1997

Gilbert Bibasa & Willy Simons

Uganda Holland

134

30th, 31st May, 1st & 2nd Jun  97

Trust Bank

1998

Not held

 

 

 

 

1999

G. Makumbi/H. Andolo/G.Bibasa

Uganda Kenya

50

2nd to 5th Apr  99

 

Prominent players from the past include Saif Kanani who represented Kenya at a number of Olympiads and obtained a silver medal for Board 1 at the 1984 Olympiad held in Malta with a score of 9.5/12.  This represents Kenya’s only medal at the Olympiad.

Another prominent player Richard Polaczek who won the inaugural Kenya Open in 1979 at the age of 13 is now an IM and resides in Belgium and has represented Belgium in a number of  international events.

Others include Raymond Colaco, Teo Fernandes, Percy Baretto

The club lost its venue at French Cultural Centre and generally went into a decline due to various factors.

The club used to participate in the Kenya Chess Association National Chess League and was in 1985 awarded the 3rd position.  Players for this team included late V. Hegde, Raymond Colaco, Fred Kasumba and Kim Bhari.

During the 1990/91 National Chess League Nairobi Chess Club came out 7th with 39 points.

Nairobi Chess Club Kim Bhari (left) play Nakuru Chess Club during their encounter sometime in 1988.

On 29th January 1994 Kim Bhari was elected Chairman.  This represented Nairobi Chess Club’s second revival which resulted in the following events being held

Year

Event

Winner

Date

# Players

 

 

 

 

 

1993

Hindu Council Open

J. Kanyingi/H. Andolo

9th May 1993

82

1993

International Casino Open

Martin Oyamo

18th July 1993

 

1993

Kisumu Lions Club Chess Championship

Humphrey Andolo

9th to 11th October 1993

App 50

1994

Speed Chess at United Kenya Club

Jim Burnett

5th February 1994

App 30

1994

Speed Chess at United Kenya Club *

Jim Burnett

26th February 1994

11

1994

International Casino Open

Jim Burnet

31st July 1994

50

1995

International Casino Open

William Juma

17th December 1995

50

1996

International Casino Open

Humphrey Andolo

8th  September 1996

109

1997

Capablanca Cup *

Humphrey Andolo

16th, 17th & 23rd 24th August 1997

24

1999

Capablanca Cup

Jaswinder Singh

May 1999

20

  • * Held in conjunction with Kenya Chess Association.

During the period 1998 to 2007 the club was basically dormant and did not hold any events.

The clubs third revival came about when the Nairobi Gymkhana Invitational was hosted at the Nairobi Gymkhana Club 6th & 7th October 2007.  This event was sponsored by Allpack Industries Ltd KShs 10,000, Niels Lauritsen KShs 7,000, and Mehul Gohil  KShs 4,000. The event was won by Akello Atwoli and it attracted a total of 28 players. 

The club eventually found a suitable place at the Goan Gymkhana. The club then launched the first speed chess league in April 2009 where a record 11 teams participated.   Final standing at the end of the league was

Team Played Points
Nairobi Gambit   10 35
Simba Sicilians   10 35
KCB 10 35
Kabete CARES 10 16
Checkmates 10 15.5
Thika Lost Boys 10 15
Hexasix 10 13.5
Malezi Chess Club 9 13.5
Trojan Knights   9 13
Safaricom 10 12
Team Tarpo 10 9.5

The total prize fund of this event was KShs 36,000 which was the biggest for a chess league in the region.

Nairobi Chess Club on 3rd October 2009 then organised Kenya’s first ever internet match against the prestigious Wageningen Chess Club of Holland.

Board 1            GM Jan Tinman                      Ben Magana
Board 2            IM Yochanan Afek                  Peter Gilruth
Board 3            CM Sanders van Eijk               Ben Nguku
Board 4            Fred Jonker                           Mehul Gohil
Board 5            Erwin Oorebeek                      Githinji Hinga
Board 6            Hotze Tette Hofstra                Akello Atwoli

This event was proudly sponsored by telecom giants Safaricom to the tune of KShs 300,000.

The team that played from this side was christened “Kenya Simbas” and the results was a 6 nil loss to Kenya. 

This event was covered by the local newspapers and covered by a number of overseas newspapers and websites like www.chessbase.com and www.chessdrum.net.

A side event was the Safaricom Cup which attracted 13 players and which was won by Steve Ouma with 5 points.

During the 2009/2010 National Chess League Nairobi Chess Club came out 4th in the final standings.  The event was won by National Bank of Kenya.  The team was represented by

  • Mehul Gohil
  • Dr Nikolai van Beek
  • Kim Bhari
  • Chris Kolenberg
  • John Hadley

During the meeting held on 21st August 2010 members agreed to officially launch the club to make it again the hub of chess in Nairobi.

On 19th February 2011 the club organized the Fizza Blitz Invitational Chess tournament sponsored by long time supporter Aslam Adam that was won by Matin Gateri who collected a top prize of KShs 20,000.

The second edition of the Nairobi Chess League commenced on 19th March 2011 where a total of nine teams registered for the event.  The teams in this event that has a total cash prize of KShs 50,000 are;

  • Mighty Pawns
  • Poizoned Pawns
  • Knight Runners
  • Marauding Knights
  • Nairobi Gambit
  • Sicilian Simbas
  • Checkmates Chess Club
  • Lion King
  • Safaricom

A blitz event for one player from each team was held on the same day the event was won by George Mwangi of Sicilian Simbas.

Nairobi Chess Club then organized a chess clinic with GM Dimitri Reinderman from Holland who came to Kenya for a visit between 21st  to 28th July 2011.  Dimitri held a 35 player simultaneous match on 23rd July in a match dubbed “Dimitri Reinderman v The Rest of Kenya” in which he won 33 and drew 2 games.   This event was proudly sponsored by Jacaranda Hotels, Tarpo Ltd, Dr Nikolai van Beek, Peter Gilruth, & Kange Saiti.  Paras Gudka (www.chesseventseac.com) provided complementary photography coverage.

He then played a blindfold match against Ben Nguku on 24th July 2011 in a match that he won.  He also conducted 4 high intensity training sessions for 5 top players.

The club then held it’s 53rd Club Championship on 27th and 28th August 2011 in which Ben Magana was the overall winner.

   
Kim Bhari Nairobi Chess Club Captain 1988 getting prize
Nairobi Chess Club Team 1988
Kim Bhari Nairobi Chess Club Captain 1988 getting prize
Nairobi Chess Club Team 1988

 

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