Report by Eric Lutomia
The inaugural Southfield Mall Open Blitz Chess Championship went down on Sunday 17th of February starting from 3(M till late in the evening. The event was enormously spectacular courtesy of Terrian Chess Academy under the organization and stewardship of the Local GM Brian Kidula and it was largely advertised on the social media, attracting an initial registration of over fifty players.
The choice of the venue was undeniably out of this world as the mall provided the most serene environment for the battle of wits owing to its utmost tranquility. You can trust that with an event organized by the Terrian Chess Academy team, what you see is what you get. Nothing short of a well thought and organized event.
Players started rolling in in the early hours of the afternoon exuding the confidence of scooping the gift hampers that had been laid up for grabs. Unlike the usual partners in sponsorship of chess events, new sponsors were in town. Choppies Supermarket and Bata had joined the chess bandwagon and were willing to part with gift vouchers worth ten thousand Kenya shillings to go towards the prize fund.
Players came wagging their tongues with a ravenous appetite for the gift vouchers. They had strengthened their mandibles ready to chew their opponents alive. One could easily feel the environment change and become laden with elos ready to be dropped or gained, egos that were in dire need to be quenched and grudges that were to be settled on the board. All these were in a quest to define who the real champion of blitz is.
The games started right on time and one could only anticipate a tight contest. There was no room for errors in a tournament graced by the presence of the dominant and national blitz champion Joseph Methu, and other self-proclaimed lions including Mehul Gohil, Brian Adorwa, Jackson Kamau, Dr. Victor Ngani and the one and only sac-master Joseph Atwoli. It was hard to tell who would emerge the winner. In this case, it was not the strength of the players that mattered but the number of mistakes they would make during their play. Off the games started with chief arbiter being Bolo, a trusted arbiter and a promising one indeed.
In the opening game Methu, Adorwa, Atwoli and Mehul among other big fish had their easy first wins. But as more games unfolded, things began getting thicker and it was time to separate the boys from the men. There were ten more rounds to go and the king of blitz would be crowned. As the games went on, points were dropped along the way and the adrenaline among the players was on the verge of exploding. People were now slowly losing sight of the prize.
Anger and frustrations could be seen written on the faces of some of the players not wanting to believe that they were losing the game. At some point, they wished for divine intervention of the gods of FIDE (World Chess Federation) rules to come and save them. Not once, not twice, not even thrice but several times the wisdom of the chief arbiter was put to test to arbitrate when enraged players tried to settle their scores about flag fall or illegal moves or something even both of them did not understand!!
The atmosphere was heated, people squinting their eyes in search of accurate concentration. One unlucky man was Mehul who found himself having to explain his position on different occasions with some upcoming champions challenging his wit on the board. On a few occasions, it ended up in a sour way due to time trouble or positional illusions which called for the arbiter’s final word.
Ng’ani also found himself on the hot seat of argument when a young man tried to prove to him that he had two valuable seconds on the clock which Victor, as his opponent, had wasted. In all the cases, Bolo always emerged the hero of the day with his sound judgment that left both parties satisfied.
By the 9th round, Methu was proving unstoppable having already garnered eight points while Kamau had seven, Panchol six points as Mehul, Adorwa and Morrel were struggling with five and a half. At this point, it was clear that the championship was taking shape of its natural curve by placing people where they belonged.
Not even their mouth would save them. In this round, the games had become bloody with everyone putting his eyes on the prize. The craving for even a half a point was on top notch. As Adorwa took on Methu in this ninth round, Methu tried to swallow him alive but Adorwa refused and held on Methu’s throat and the game ended in a draw.
By the end of the 11th round, Methu had stamped his authority as the undisputed Southfield Mall open Blitz champion with 10 pts followed closely by Kamau (9pts), Mehul (8pts) and Panchol (7.5pts) to complete the prize bracket.
The competition had come to an end and an official (Geoffrey) from the management at the Southfield Mall was in attendance to present the winners with their gift vouchers. The winner – Methu – walked away with vouchers worth four thousand shillings,(two thousand from Choppies and two thousand from Bata), the first runners up Kamau got Bata’s voucher of two thousand shillings plus Choppies one thousand while the second runners up – Mehul – won himself a Bata voucher worth two thousand shillings as the 4th placed Panchol took home Choppies Voucher worth one thousand.
The full tournament details can be found on this link
Chess members within Nairobi and its environs were encouraged to visit the mall as a sure place where they could find a formidable venue for the game anytime. One thing was quite clear that ladies have not yet embraced the art and skills of enjoying blitz. There was no representation of any lady chess player even though some had initially registered.
Ladies are encouraged to take part and hopefully, they can drown the jinx of the usual suspects who win these events and take up the crown. Terrian Chess Academy looks forward to partnering with other sponsors and organizing another blast of an event.