chess_players1Gilliane Otieno, Raisa Wanjiku (Shishi) and Maxwell Wambua from Nairobi Christian Church will represent Kenya at the World Youth Chess championships to be held in Slovania in November 2012.

Gilliane (7), Shishi (9) and Maxwell (8) qualified after a competitive and challenging two day World Youth qualifiers tournament held at Oshwal Primary School in Parklands.

According to teacher Samuel Kimani Ng’ang’a – the coach and the brainchild behind the idea, “the children were idle during the december 2011 holidays and I thought it wise to introduce something that can change their lives, capture their attention and make them be better people as they grow up. “

chess_players4” However, God had plans for it. It is amazing that we met within three weeks in December 2011 and went to Mount Kenya competition with two of the children and Gilliane became the champion of Mount Kenya. In April 2012 we only had 6 sessions and God has graciously rewarded us by having three of our own children represent Kenya at the highest level of the championship. If you compare the time it takes to train a child and the cost implications then you see how God came in a great way to show how richly he rewards those who humbly and faithfully follow his commands.”

Gilliane Otieno won all her seven matches to emerge tops in the under-8 category making her the new national champion in this category. This is her third win in less than six months. In February 2012 she won the Mt. Kenya Open championships in Karatina and in April 2012 won the Naivasha Open championships. She was fourth in the first round of the World Youth qualifiers held in Brookhouse School Nairobi. Her last weekend’s win was the second round of the qualifiers and her finishing tops was a big achievement especially considering that she only started playing chess in December 2011.

Raisa Wanjiku (Shishi) finished runners-up during the second round of the World Youth Championships and is the second best nationally in the under-8 category for this year. This is her third tournament. She had also finished second in the first round of the World Youth qualifiers held in Brook house in February 2012 and was third in the Naivasha Open tournament. It is a crowning moment for her to be in the Kenyan team for the World Youth Championships.

Maxwell Wambua surprised everyone by finishing third in the second round of the World Youth Championships at Oshwal Primary School. He won all his four matches on the opening day and proved quite a threat to some of the best players in the country who even tried to use unfair means to take the trophy from him but thank God they did not succeed as fairness prevailed. Wambua was the best improved among those who participated in this tournament considering that he had earlier finished eighth in the first round of the World Youth qualifiers. He won the Naivasha Open championships and is expected to do well when he represents the country in the World Youth Chess Championships.

Kimberly Wanjiku was joint third in the girls’ under-8 category and improved from her earlier fifth position in the first round of the World Youth qualifiers. Though she did not get a trophy since she lost by a tie break to a third placed opponent, she has improved a great deal since starting to play Chess in December. She was runners-up in the Naivasha Open tournament after tying with Gilliane in first place and the deadlock had to be broken by a tie break.

For Abigael Wairimu, despite her busy schedule and luck of training time because of school work, she has improved greatly on her last performance during the first round of the World Youth Qualifiers. Though she did not get any trophy, her major improvement also makes her a winner in her own right and she is set for big things if she maintains such determination in future competitions.

Teacher Kimani notes that children have a lot of energy which needs to be directed towards doing better things. “Parents should expose their children to activities undertaken by the church for their potential to be realized in time. When we put the announcement the parents who brought their children are those who were curious and had no idea what chess was. Children need to be exposed to things which can challenge them in thinking and concentration as it will enable them to grow as better people.

However, it was not all rosy.” We had challenges at the beginning and started with about 5 children. Controlling them was not easy but God intervened. I was patient with them and some order was restored by the second day. At the moment I have about 30 children I am training and it is amazing to see how the children themselves have reached out to their friends whose parents are not disciples.”

The children received a standing ovation as they were recognized and awarded gifts and trophies by Evangelist John Kilaha. It was very clear that every parent(s) dream is to see their children excel in a given area and becomes more humbling when they excel in God’s Kingdom.

“I feel honoured to have worked with these children and for their parents to have entrusted me with them by going out of their way to make my work easy and enjoyable,” concluded the soft spoken teacher Kimani. He is a teacher at Riabai Secondary School in Kiambu and he is from Macedonia Ministry in Kariobangi Sector.

The children were happy and thanked teacher Kimani for his support to train them for almost nothing at a time when some parents are paying thousands of shillings per session for their children to be taught the sport. Truly it is awesome to be in God’s kingdom!

The writer can be reached at ostinmoriz@gmail.com

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