Woman Candidate Master (WCM) Lucy Wanjiru of Kenya in action during a past game. [Washington Onyango,Standard]

The stage is set for this year’s Kenya Open Chess tournament at Sarit Center.

The event was officially launched on Wednesday at the venue of the tournament with Indian Grand Master Siram Jha and South African International Master (IM) Anzel Laubscher some of the big names attending the event in attendance.

Speaking at the event, Jha who is rated 2511 expressed his excitement at playing in Kenya for the first time and admitted he had been attracted by the attractive $42000 cash prize on offer.

“It is my first time to come to Kenya and I want to admit that the lucrative cash prize is what attracted me. Iam surprised that we don’t have atleast 25 Grand Master’s in this event,” he said.

He said the event will go a long way to help players get GM and IM norms in a continent that has less than five Grand Masters.

“I want to thank Safaricom and KCB and all sponsors who have made this event a success. I also want to laud the Chess Kenya Federation (CKF) for doing a good job in publicizing the sport. It is the only federation in the world where the winner of the national championships drives away a car.”

Laubscher said she was happy to be back in Nairobi again and described the tournament as the strongest she has ever seen in her 25 years of playing in the continent.

Brian Kidula, Terrian Africa CEO said the 31st edition of the Kenya Open promises to be exciting with a big array of international players.

Chess Kenya President Bernard Wanjala said so far, 450 players have registered for the event coming from 24 federations.

“It is difficult to get GM’s to come and play in your tournament and inviting them gives our local players a great opportunity to improve the quality of their games.

He appealed to sponsors to still come on board and support to bridge some budget deficits being experienced by the organisers.

KCB Team Manager Isaac Babu said the bank is delighted to be associated with the tournament.

Safaricom are sponsoring the event to the tune of Sh.1million while KCB have committed Sh.500,000.


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