Kenya’s Giraffe Ark Game Lodge Officially Opened with Chess Events

Kenya’s Tourism Cabinet Secretary Honourable Najib Balala was introduced to chess at the official opening of Giraffe Ark Game Lodge in Mweiga, Nyeri by lodge owner and chess aficionado Peter Mahu on Friday, 15th April.

Kenya’s Tourism CS Najib Balala makes a move on behalf of Giraffe Ark Game Lodge owner Peter Mahu (right)
Kenya’s Tourism CS Najib Balala makes a move on behalf of Giraffe Ark Game Lodge owner Peter Mahu (right)

Playing an exhibition match against Nairobi-based financial consultant Benson Wambugu on one of the lodge’s two giant chess boards, Peter invited the CS to play a few moves on his behalf as Hon. Balala wondered out aloud—to the chagrin of onlookers—whether chess was anything like checkers.

Benson Wambugu (in blue shirt) considers his next move against Peter Mahu / Photo by Paras Gudka
Benson Wambugu (in blue shirt) considers his next move against Peter Mahu / Photo by Paras Gudka

The exhibition match was held alongside a junior chess tournament to mark the official opening of the beautiful lodge.

Kenyan Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala poses with participants of the junior chess tournament / Photo by Paras Gudka
Kenyan Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala poses with participants of the junior chess tournament / Photo by Paras Gudka
Giraffe Ark Game Lodge in Mweiga, Nyeri County / Photo by Paras Gudka
Giraffe Ark Game Lodge in Mweiga, Nyeri County / Photo by Paras Gudka

Two junior players from Nairobi County and four from Nyeri County played in a double round robin rapid tournament dubbed ‘Giraffe Ark Lodge Closed Junior Chess Championship’ and organised on behalf of the lodge by Motochess Ventures (run by yours truly).

Participants of the junior chess tournament play a game of giant chess to warm up for the event / Photo by Paras Gudka
Participants of the junior chess tournament play a game of giant chess to warm up / Photo by Paras Gudka

After 5 hours and 10 rounds of gruelling play, the final standings were as follows:

  • First Place: Andrew Nderitu (Nyeri) – 9 points
  • Second Place: Ayarton Buyanzi (Nairobi) – 8.5 pts
  • Joint Third Place: Sharlene Njoki (Nyeri), Elizabeth Wanjiru (Nyeri) and Charity Mumbi (Nyeri) – 4 pts
  • Sixth Place: Raphael Ochieng (Nairobi) – 0.5 pt
Charity Mumbi, a junior player from Nyeri, considers her next move / Photo by Paras Gudka
Charity Mumbi, a junior player from Nyeri, considers her next move / Photo by Paras Gudka
A coach, a guardian and a parent pay attention as co-organiser Benson Wambugu teaches them a few tricks / Photo by Paras Gudka
A coach, a guardian and a parent pay attention as co-organiser Benson Wambugu (in blue shirt) teaches them a few tricks / Photo by Paras Gudka

All participants received an allowance of KES 2,000 and were treated to a sumptuous lunch after the tournament before heading back home to Nyeri and Nairobi.

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