As I write this, I’ve been in surprisingly nippy Ahmedabad for a little over 9 hours, excited and anxious about attending the final round of the 2017 World Youth Chess Olympiad tomorrow morning. I would have spectated the penultimate round but I needed to catch up on sleep after a tiring 8.5 hour long train journey in a mainly seated position.

The prospect of observing a Kenya A vs Kenya B match didn’t make it any more appealing either. Tomorrow’s matches should be a lot more exciting though.

Before I get into the topic of today’s journal entry, though, I want to apologise to readers/subscribers who came here expecting regular output, especially after the momentum I built up in August, only to be disappointed by the long silence till now. I let life get in the way and with every day that passed, it got harder to get back to writing. Going through a new Twitter friend’s blog (spiritualhitchhiker.wordpress.com) has helped me tame the procrastination monster though and I’m glad to be back in the writer’s seat. Henceforth, I’ll be aiming for a new entry every fortnight until it’s habitual to publish something every week.

If I had to sum up 2017 in one word, it would be: ‘transformational’. This was the year I went from being a spoilt boy child to an adult man who saw how bleak his future would be if things didn’t change. The realisation couldn’t have come at a better time and I’m already seeing the dividends of making these changes (more on that later).

On the chess front, some highlights were as follows:

January:

  • Arbitrating in the IIFL Wealth Mumbai International Chess Tournament and getting to see former World Champion GM ‘Vishy’ Anand live at the closing ceremony
  • Reviving Anchor Chess Club with branded T-shirts for new members
  • Arbitrating in the Tanzanian national championship in Dar es Salaam
  • Organising the first major FIDE rated event of the year + introducing Kenyan chess players to incremental time controls in the shorter formats (rapid & blitz)

February:

  • Celebrating Anchor Chess Club’s first birthday
  • Watching my club finally participating in the Kenyan National Chess League after a disappointing 2016 when the event didn’t happen due to internal wrangles within the federation
Cutting ANCC's first birthday cake

Cutting ANCC’s first birthday cake

March:

  • Organising my biggest tournament to date—the Cytonn Investments 2nd HCK Open—with a total of 253 players participating on both days
  • Organising Anchor Chess Club’s first FIDE rated closed club championship at standard time controls
  • Making my Kenyan National Chess League debut by helping Anchor Chess Club thrash a very cocky Mombasa Chess Club 3.5-1.5
  • Having my IA (International Arbiter) title application approved by FIDE (World Chess Federation)
My best win in a FIDE rated tournament of the year came against WFM Sanjana Deshpande at the 2nd ANCC Closed Championship

My best win in a FIDE rated tournament of the year came against WFM Sanjana Deshpande at the 2nd ANCC Closed Championship

April:

  • Remotely directing and arbitrating in two tournaments in Mombasa from my base in Nairobi
  • Partnering with Village Market to organise the chess component of their bimonthly Game Night event
  • Arbitrating in the Mombasa International Open—Kenya’s hallmark event of the year that saw the largest cash prize fund for individual winners—as the Chief Arbiter
  • Meeting world famous photographer David Llada at the above tournament
  • Directing former world champion GM Viswanathan Anand’s 38-player simul at the same event
  • Being appointed Ratings Officer of Chess Kenya after a long lobbying process
  • Participating in the Makadara Open with disastrous results

May:

  • Having my IA title confirmed on my FIDE profile after the mandatory 60-day period from when it was approved
  • Organising All Saints Cathedral Primary School’s first ever chess tournament

June:

  • Partnering with DJ N.kai to organise a chess tournament at her monthly Unplug & Play event at The Alchemist Bar
  • Reflecting on my chess career as an organiser and realising that I was better off pursuing my dream as a player while I still could

July:

  • Organising an impromptu rated closed blitz tournament for Black Knights Chess Club

August:

  • Relaunching parasgudka.com as a journal + work website
  • Completing the mammoth task of scheduling 55 games involving 11 players mostly on Saturdays over 6 months for the 2nd ANCC Closed Championship
  • Overseeing the disposal of Motochess Ventures’ event organisation department’s physical assets
  • Becoming a titled player (ACM) through the FIDE Online Arena platform

September:

  • Organising and playing in Anchor Chess Club’s first blitz championship

October:

  • Organising Anchor Chess Club’s first junior (under 18) championship
  • Resigning from the post of Ratings Officer of Chess Kenya

November:

  • Handing over Anchor Chess Club to a new management team
  • Closing down Motochess Ventures after two very fruitful years
  • Moving to Mumbai, India

December:

Now that I’m recounting all of this, it’s little wonder why I wanted to take a complete break from chess for 3 months after moving to India.


On the personal front, there were four main highlights:

  • Driving to Mombasa and back with a car full of chess equipment and an entertaining companion (I love road trips)
  • Climbing Mount Longonot before I forgot that the almost annual tradition hadn’t yet happened in 2017
  • Reconnecting with extended family and renewing my appreciation for the beauty of Kenya’s coutryside by visiting them in Eldoret, Kitale and Iten
  • Getting my fourth passport — the newly introduced Kenyan ‘e-passport’ with a chip embedded in it (this was such an exciting event that I even went out and bought a cool map-inspired cover for it)
Posing for the customary "I have conquered Mt Longonot" photo at the top

Posing for the customary “I have conquered Mt Longonot” photo at the top

Can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store for me!


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