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:
- 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)
- 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
- 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)
- 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
- 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
- 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
- Organising an impromptu rated closed blitz tournament for Black Knights Chess Club
- 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
- Organising and playing in Anchor Chess Club’s first blitz championship
- Organising Anchor Chess Club’s first junior (under 18) championship
- Resigning from the post of Ratings Officer of Chess Kenya
- Handing over Anchor Chess Club to a new management team
- Closing down Motochess Ventures after two very fruitful years
- Moving to Mumbai, India
- Being published on Firstpost, one of India’s most widely read news websites in English
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)
Can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store for me!