The Rotary Club meets Chess!

I had the privilege of being the guest speaker during the weekly luncheon of the Rotary Club of Nairobi East, at the Nairobi Club – Makuti Room, on the 4th of April 2017.  The topic I had proposed when I got the invitation was ‘The role of chess in the corporate world’ but on the eve of the meeting, I received an email with this topic ‘Lessons from a Chess Master: Winning in life and playing.’

The invitation was extended to me after being highly recommended by the Consul at the Honorary Consulate of the Republic of Estonia in Kenya, Ms Kadri Humal Ayal, who also sits on the board of the Rotary Club of Nairobi East.  Kadri played in the KHI International Hawkins Associates Chess Tournament held at the Mayfair Hotel in 1997!

Every chess player should know that GM Paul Keres, an Estonian player, was among the top players in the world from the mid – 1930s to mid – 1960s and narrowly missed the chance to challenge for the World Championship five times, after finishing as runner up in the Candidates Tournament on four consecutive occasions.

I was accompanied by my PA (Principal Advisor) Barnabas Inyaa Olubayi and the cameraman Allan Victor Rongoey, and at hand to welcome us was the President of the Rotary Club of Nairobi East Joe Kamau. It was also a great pleasure to finally put a face to the name behind the sponsorship of the famous Rift Valley Machinery chess tournaments in Nakuru, Peter Mbui, who was in attendance in his capacity as the District Governor.

After a sumptuous 3 course meal, I took the podium to speak on what I passionately pursue in life, and the audience’s undivided attention throughout my 20 minute presentation and their lively interaction during the Question and Answer session was testament enough to the effectiveness of my delivery.

I talked about how chess is a game of cause and effect where every choice one makes has resultant consequences that have to be dealt with, as played out on the chessboard. I didn’t hesitate to quote from the legendary former world champion GM Garry Kasparov’s book ‘How Life Imitates Chess’.

Quote. Everyone must create his own successful combinations with the ingredients he has. There are guidelines for what works, but each person has to discover what works for him. This doesn’t happen by itself. Through practice and observation, you must take an active role in your own education. Unquote.

To spice it all up, I chose to talk about the world ‘Blindfold King’ GM Timur Garayev from Uzbekistan who now represents the United States of America, when asked about the power of a chess player’s mind. In September last year, Gareyev played chess simultaneously against 48 participants without sight of the boards. Against 43 on-site opponents and five online opponents, he scored 35 wins, seven draws and six losses.

There was no doubt in my mind that I had left an indelible mark in their hearts insofar as chess is concerned in our daily lives. The air was still pregnant with expectation, even as I took my seat, to a thunderous applause as I basked in the glory of the moment.

Kadri summed it all up by saying ‘The talk by Brian Kidula was considered to be of high value. The members of Rotary Club of Nairobi East enjoyed the exchanges. Professionals in the corporate world do not often get a chance to hear about chess, furthermore about chess in the context of working lives and leadership decisions, or company strategy. His insights and examples were highly appreciated.’

Several members proposed initiatives that they strongly believed Terrian Chess Academy could partner with the Rotary Club of Nairobi East in implementing. I was later presented with a certificate of appreciation (below) and I look forward to forging a united front with interested stakeholders in taking chess to hitherto virgin markets.


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