The Equity Bank chess team successfully defended their Kenya National Premier Chess League title after they trounced KCB chess club 3-2 in a suspense packed matched played at The Luke Hotel over the weekend.
Though Equity were third on the ranking table with one match to go, the team fought perennial rivals KCB in a do-or-die match to retain the title.
The win pushed Equity to the top of the ranking table, followed by Deadly Bishop with KCB at number 3.
The epic KCB-Equity match kicked off with nail-biting suspense as both teams fielded their A-teams.
Participants on both sides played solid moves to avoid early surprises or blunders that could compromise their positional play.
This careful play led to an early draw on board one, where Equity’s Arthur Sswenganyi neutralised KCB’s Harold Wanyama’s offensive attack to force a draw.
This was followed by another draw on board three where KCB’s Joseph Methu recovered from a bad pawn structure to equalize the game against Equity’s Peter Gilruth.
Equity’s first win came on board two where Equity’s Patrick Kawuma sacrificed a night to collapse the king’s fortress of KCB’s Ben Magana.
By the time Magana recreated his forces to reinforce the defence, Kawuma had already aligned all his pieces for a nuclear attack.
With no counter-play, Magana resigned the position. However, Equity’s optimism was short-lived after Equity’s Moses Andiwoh succumbed to a tactical knight maneuver by KCB’s Mehul Gohil to lose the game.
With both teams drawn at 2-2, tension was high as the match came to the wire and the fate of the encounter fell on
Equity’s Daphne Mwikali and KCB’s Angolikin Goretti.
Following a tactical miscalculation by Equity’s Daphne that cost her two pawns, the game became skewed in favour of KCB.
However, Goretti’s pawn harvest spree reduced her defences and Daphne immediately capitalized on this.
She swooped in with a queen-check and exerted pressure on the defending black bishop, forcing Goretti’s king out of his castled position to the centre of the board.
The Equity Team in the holding room burst into celebration as they watched Daphne smothering the defenseless king and claim the crucial point that won the match against.
“It is not easy defending a title because everyone just wants to beat the champion. It was a very tight race but we are grateful that we have successfully defended the title,” said a delighted Chess Captiain Bernad Wanjala.
As the reigning champion of the 2017 league, Equity will also represent Kenya at the upcoming Africa Club Championships in Lusaka, Zambia next month.
We picked vital lessons from our encounters in Egypt where players are very experienced,” said coach John Mukabi. “Continental Championships are touch because you face the best in Africa but we are looking forward to improved performance in Lusaka,” added Mukabi.
This is the third time the team is scooping the title since its league debut in 2015. The win also comes hot on the heels of the recent victory at the Mombasa Derby and the medal haul in the chess category of the 2018 Inter Bank games.