Chess is a strategy game played by millions worldwide. You can also now play chess on Twitter; all thanks to the introduction of the 280 characters. A group of Kenyan youth have also found a way to make chess work for them and others. Through the Epitome School of Chess, they are teaching people how to play the witty game. Capital Campus caught up with Joan Watiri of the Epitome School of Chess.
CC: Tell us about yourself and the team.
JW: I am a freshman at Daystar University. I am pursuing a Social Work degree and I hope to study Communications later. I also teach Scrabble at the M-Pesa Foundation. Other students who are part of the Epitome School of Chess are; James Mwangi, John Mwangi, Brian Chege, James Kabui and Francis Michuki.
CC: How did Epitome School of Chess come about?
JW: I met with the Kenya National Chess coach and he encouraged me to come up with something to train others. We have been around for a couple of years. We basically train beginners and advanced players on how to tackle the game. We take kids from as early as 5 years up to 24 years. But we also take people who are also older than that.
The trainee is expected to sign up on our website, after which we come up with a schedule. We work with the students’ time so that means we are flexible and one can comfortably learn. Our training is intense because we work with what we call “20 hours of comprehensive chess training.”
CC: Why did you decide on chess of all games?
JW: Chess is an art and it helps one improve their cognitive abilities.
CC: Do you give certification to those you train?
JW: Yes. We test the prowess of our trainees by taking them to tournaments and contests. We then give them certificates based on that.
CC: What are some of the challenges you have faced?
JW: Getting sponsors is not easy. This is because we are a team of very young people and thus people might not have great confidence in us despite our determination. We do most of the training at people’s homes because we are yet to establish a location. We are still pushing and we work with the ones who come on board.
CC: Are you seeing any positive responses so far?
JW: Yes. We have had an increased number of people signing up to be trained. We also have the highest number of chess national champions. Through efforts from Chess Kenya, NGOs and FIDE (which is the World Chess Federation), we have been able to send our students outside of the country for championships. Our students have been to tournaments in India, Burundi, Egypt.
CC: What are your future endeavors?
JW: We are planning on an official launch for Epitome School of Chess. We also hope to produce the best chess players in Kenya.
CC: How can one connect with you?
JW: Visit our website-www.epitomechess.com, sign up and that’s it. We only charge Ksh.800 annual registration and we can train you at your home when you’re free.