Twenty-seven-year-old Joseph Methu, an actuarial science student at JKUAT (Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology), has been called a rising star several times in the past with commendable performances against Kenya’s chess elite.

Over the last weekend of March, he finally proved his worth by winning the inaugural Kiambu Open Chess Championship ahead of Kenyan number one Peter Gilruth and ex-National Champion Benjamin Magana. Tied on 5.5 points each out of a possible 6, it took the second tie-breaker score to decide who of the three was the ultimate champion (view the final ranking crosstable).

I got in touch with him for a candid interview and boy, he didn’t disappoint with the quick-fire answers! Here’s what he had to say about his win:

Joseph Methu at the 2015 Kiambu Open / Photo by Kim Bhari (click here for more)

Joseph Methu at the 2015 Kiambu Open / Photo by Kim Bhari

Paras: How does it feel to have finished ahead of the likes of Peter Gilruth and Ben Magana? Do you think you’re a serious contender to gatecrash Kenya’s ‘Top 10’ club?

JM: To be honest finishing ahead of them wasn’t a big deal to me. My goals are way higher than hoping to finish ahead of Magana or Gilruth.This tournament is just a tip of the iceberg. About Kenya’s Top 10 club, I am already in it!

Paras: How do you normally prepare for tournaments? Did you do anything different this time?

JM: I simply do what I do every day, solve 20 to 50 puzzles, study 5 to 10 games then practise blindfold during weekends.

Paras: Are you a member of any chess club? Which one?

JM: Currently I am not a member of any chess club.

Paras: What’s next for you as a player? Is there any particular tournament that you want to win badly?

JM:  My eyes are set on the Kenyan National Championship 2015. I began preparing for it as early as February and I also want my rating to be past 2100 by the end of the year.