By Phares Mutembei
At only seven, Gilliane Titi Otieno is on her way to become one of Kenya’s top chess players.
Watching her keen concentration in studying the chessboard before making her move to counter the opponent is a clear indicator of what Titi’s intention is — winning and she does.
“I feel great, because in Slovenia, I will play against young players from other countries. My aim is to win more chess matches so that I may get a chance to play in other countries,” says Titi, who has improved so fast since she started playing chess last December.
Titi’s win earned her a chance to represent Kenya during the qualifying matches for the world youth championship held last month.
The top 96 junior players from Kenya competed in the various age groups with Titi winning all her matches in the under eight category.
“I practice to be a better player. Before every match I pray to God, asking Him to help me win. I ask Him to help me not fear my opponents. After I win, I thank Him. But I don’t always win,” says Titi.
Titi won her first tournament during the Mt Kenya Open held at Bishop Gatimu Ngandu Girls High School.
“It was my first tournament and I won five matches and lost one, I was on top of the world,” she says with a smile.
Afterwards she was placed fourth during a tournament held at Brookhouse School.
In March she won all her six matches to scoop the top position in the Naivasha Chess Open.