Kenyan chess prodigy to publish book for beginners

Kenya's national chess champion, Riya Shah, 16, is writing a book for beginners in order to help them improve their play and nurture upcoming talent in the East African nation.


The book, which will be released soon, will be distributed to young Kenyans from economically disadvantaged backgrounds with the aim of demystifying a game previously thought to be meant only for societal elites.

“This is my contribution to giving back to society by sharing my experience to promote the game through the book,” Shah told Xinhua on Sunday.

The book is part of a project at Aga Khan Academy in Nairobi where Shah is in Year 11.

Shah has scaled the heights of chess, beginning in 2013 at the age of 13. In April, she won the country’s first medal in the sport in 36 years when she finished in third place during the Africa 4.2 Zonal championships held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Shah scored six out of nine points to win the bronze medal behind two Egyptian opponents during an event where she was also crowned as an International Women’s Master.

Shah started her journey to stardom aged six, following in the footsteps of her elder sister, Rivani.

At the age of seven, Shah made her debut in chess and finished second during an interscholastic championship. In 2008, she won the national junior title, qualifying to represent Kenya in the under-8 category during an international competition in Wang Tau, Vietnam.

She retained the national youth title in 2009 to book a ticket for the World Youth Chess Championships held in Antalya, Turkey where she competed in the under-10 category.

In 2012, Shah won the Africa Youth Chess Championships in the under-12 category in Pretoria, South Africa, marking her first accolade outside Kenya and being crowned as the Women Candidate Master.

The following year at the age 13, she defied all odds to upset senior, experienced and seasoned players, being crowned the national women’s chess champion after she scoring 6.5 out of eight points.

Her feat earned her the titles of Most Promising Player and Best Junior from Chess Kenya and a place in Kenya’s delegation to the World Youth Championship held in Dubai.

In 2014, she traveled as the only junior to represent the country at the senior level at the 14th World Olympiad in Norway soon after winning the Kenyan National Youth Championship, where she scored nine out nine.

Shah later reclaimed the national women’s chess title in 2015 after she lost it in 2014 to book a berth in the country’s team for the Africa 4.2 Zonal Championships.

Shah is reportedly also training her sights on someday becoming a FIDE Grand Master, but because she will sit O Level exams next year, will only play in local tournaments in 2017. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/

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