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The junior chess team to this year’s African Youth Chess Championships (AYCC) in Lusaka, Zambia, begin training this weekend in Nairobi.

The 12 players were picked at last weekend’s Kenya National Youth Chess Championship at Makini School, Nairobi, wher 132 students from across the country took part.

The six boys and six girls will converge on the University of Nairobi ahead of the premier event, which is expected to attract the continent’s top chess nations such as South Africa, Egypt and Nigeria.

The event, which will run from December 5-13, will have 12 categories ranging from Under-8 to U-18 for both boys and girls.

Former national women’s champion and Olympiad Riya Shah from Aga Khan Academy is among the players in the team. The KCB player was in imperious form winning the girls’ U-16 after chalking up a perfect score of seven out of seven.

Other girls in the team include the Oshwal Academy duo of Hirandani Jia Rajesh and Karania Saloni, Joy Njeri of Elimu School, Gilliane Titi (Makini) and Varsani Reanna Paras (Braeburn School).

U-10 winner Aguda Lwanga of Consolata School and Kenton College’s Dev Shah, who won the U-14 category, are among the boy stars in the team. Nine-year-old Lwanga, the youngest player in the current national chess league, will be hoping to leave a mark in his debut.

Others in team are Sanjay Ramesh, Timothy Mwabu, Brian Chege and Milton Mwangi.

“I hope my experience in the 2013 World Youth Chess Championship will help me in this event,” Lwanga told Nation Sport during the national youth championship. “I believe with proper training we can do well in Zambia.”

Kenya hope for an improved performance, having finished 10th in the last edition in Zambia in 2013.

Chess Kenya chairman Githinji Hinga said the players will be fully engaged in different competitions in the run-up to the championship. He said the federation hoped to secure funding from the government to aid in the team’s preparations.

“We hope to have the team in camp for one week before departure,” Hinga said.

The team could play at the November 21-23 Bungoma Open.


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