(Article by Paras Gudka, photos by Kim Bhari)
Caleb Marani, one of Westlands Chess Club’s fastest-rising stars and a perpetual member of the group of chess tournament podium finishers, won the WeCC Blitzes – Tournament 1 held on Sunday, 11 th September 2022 with 16 points from 18 rounds.
Following him in second place was his good friend Samuel Onsongo Osoro from Starheights Sports Academy with 14 points.
Famous chess photographer and former captain of Strathmore University’s chess club Allan Victor Rongoey finished in third place with 12.5 points despite having played competitive chess after a very long gap!
Kim Bhari, owner and editor-in-chief of Kenya Chess Masala and former chairman of Nairobi Chess Club, made his blitz debut at this event finishing in ninth place with 4 points.
A total of 10 players participated in this very low-key invitational blitz tournament organised by Paras Gudka, founder of Westlands Chess Club and Anchor Chess Club, and hosted at his home in Parklands, Nairobi.
In true Paras Gudka style, his final tournament on Kenyan soil was a test of both mental and physical stamina as all 10 players played each other twice in a double round-robin format, with colours reversed in the second half. Despite a dizzying time control of 3 minutes plus 2 seconds increment from move 1, the 18 rounds took a little over four hours to complete with two breaks in between.
The arbiting team consisted of IA Paras Gudka (Chief Arbiter) and NA Ether Karanja (Deputy Chief Arbiter) and in what might have been a first in Kenyan chess, results were entered directly into the pairings program (ChessManager) from an Android tablet at the board itself by the latter as soon as games ended.
Prizes were awarded as follows:
Winner: Caleb Marani (Westlands Chess Club) 16 pts – KES 1,500
Runner-up: Samuel Onsongo Osoro (Starheights Sports Academy) 14 pts – KES 1,000
Best Lady: Triza Mwendwa (JKUAT) 8.5 pts – KES 750
Best Junior: Zayan Zamir (Westlands Chess Club) 4.5 pts – Gold medal
WeCC Blitzes – Tournament 1 will be rated in the October 2022 FIDE Rating List with three players: Caleb Marani, Solomon Muniu, and Samuel Osoro each gaining 78, 77, and 75 rating points to increase their blitz Elos to 1586, 1332, and 1500 respectively. Two players: Allan Victor Rongoey and Morrel Omondi will lose 46 and 38 rating points to decrease their blitz elos to 1600 and 1438 respectively.
The event was meant for Paras to formally say goodbye to organising chess events in Kenya as he prepared to sell off his last remaining stock of chess boards and digital timers. He will, however, remain involved in chess in Kenya as a part-time arbiter in FIDE-rated tournaments and as a casual player in select events.
Paras Gudka in surprise win at Torre & Cavallo Blitz Tourney.
Article by Kenya Chess Masala.