History was made on Sunday, 26th June 2016 when Nairobi Chess Club’s Mehul Gohil won the HCK (Hindu Council of Kenya) Open with a perfect score of 5 points in 5 rounds, staving off competition from titled players WCM (Woman Candidate Master) Krishi Shah and CM (Candidate Master) Vasanth Ramesh, amongst others.
The historic tournament returned with a bang after almost two decades (read about the 1993 edition held at Oshwal Sports Complex here) thanks to the efforts of Hindu Council of Kenya’s newly formed Youth and Sports wing under the directorship of Kumar Sheth and Ravi Shah with technical and logistical support from Motochess Ventures (run by yours truly).
Joining Mehul Gohil in the prize winners bracket in the Open section were Joseph Kirega (Strathmore University) in second place with 4.5 points, Lenny Mataiga Shile (Maseno University) in third place with 4 points, CM Vasanth Ramesh (Anchor Chess Club) in fourth place with 4 points and CM Aravind Vengarai (Nairobi Gymkhana Chess Club) in fifth place also with 4 points.
The top ladies’ prizes in this section were won by WCM Krishi Shah (KCB Chess Club) with 3 points, Pranjal Ameetkumar Parikh (Oshwal Academy Nairobi Junior High) with 2.5 points and Sejal Jigneshkumar Prajapati (Shree Sorathia Gnati Mandal) with 2 points. The prize for Best Junior was also won by WCM Krishi Shah.
The five-round rapid tournament held at Hindu Bhavan, Kusi Lane was played in four sections: Open, Under 10, Under 14 and Under 18 and attracted 108 entries of which 97 actually played, after last-minute withdrawals and no-shows on the day.
In the Under 10 section, V Sharadchandra Nareddy (Premier Academy) scooped first place (boys) with 4.5 points followed by Sanjay Ramesh (Oshwal Academy Nairobi Primary) in second place with 4 points and Reeyan Gosrani (Peponi House Preparatory School) in third place also with 4 points.
First place (girls) went to Vedhika Seshadri (Princeton Junior Academy) who finished with 4 points and in third place (overall) followed by Nakshathraa Shree Ananda (Shree Cutchi Leva Patel Samaj School) in second place with 3 points and Janki Nipul Shah (Oshwal Academy Nairobi Primary) in third place with 2.5 points.
The Under 14 section saw Alvin Mbithi (Mavens Education & Chess Center) emerge in first place (boys) with 5 points, followed by Aguda Lwanga (Nairobi Chess Academy & Club) in second place with 4 points and Navneeth Nareddy (Premier Academy) in third place also with 4 points.
First place (girls) in this section was won by Naiya Gosrani (Peponi House Preparatory School) who finished with 3 points, followed by Shreya Malihalli (Maharashtra Mandal) in second place with 2 points and Jahnavi Mayank Shah (UCMAS Kenya) in third place also with 2 points.
In the Under 18 section, John Milton Kihara Mwangi (Anchor Chess Club) defeated three of his fellow competitors to win first place on a better tiebreak score with 3 points, followed by Sathya Ganesh Iyer (Nairobi Gymkhana Chess Club) in second place with 3 points and Ramya Gowri Vadrevu (Nairobi Gymkhana Chess Club) in third place also with 3 points.
Sponsors of this tournament included Mystique Gardens (gift vouchers), Chandaria Industries (gift hampers), South Lemon (gift hampers), Savani’s Book Centre (gift vouchers), Kenafric Industries (sweets for all participants), Motochess Ventures (gift vouchers) and Kavit Shah (envelopes for certificates of participation).
The high level of organisation was boosted by a low entry fee of KES 300 and provision of refreshments and sweets to all participants.
The organising team was composed of Kumar Sheth, Ravi Shah, Paras Gudka, Piyush Modi, Kavit Shah and Ranjana S. Bharaj.
The arbitration team consisted of FA Paras Gudka (Chief Arbiter), David Macharia, Maureen Njeri, Hannah Muthoni and WFM Sanjana Deshpande.
All junior participants and the top 30 players in the Open section, including those who did not win any prizes, were given gift vouchers and gift hampers from the various sponsors to motivate them to do better in HCK’s next tournament.