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From Embu to Brazil: Meet Blair Nthiga, The Lion of Chess from Lion’s Primary School, Embu.

Blair Nthiga is a student at Lion’s Primary School in Embu County and is quickly becoming the new face of chess in Kenya. His impressive victory at the African Youth Chess Championship held in Johannesburg, South Africa, has marked him as a rising star in the world of chess.

Chess found its way to the modern world through ancient India, where it was first recorded in the 6th Century CE. The game, known as Chaturanga, is considered the precursor of modern chess. By the 10th Century, chess had spread across the Middle East, Europe, and Northern Africa. Today, chess is recognized globally, not just as a game but also as a tool for enhancing skills in mathematics, probability, and psychology.

The game of chess resembles checkers but involves more complex moves. There are six different types of chess pieces: the King, Queen, Bishop, Knight, Rook, and Pawn. Each piece moves uniquely, with over 500 recorded patterns of chess moves. Except for the Knight and during castling, pieces cannot jump over others. A piece is captured when an opponent’s piece replaces it on its square. The basic rules of chess are:

1. The player with the white pieces makes the first move.
2. Players take turns, making one move at a time.
3. Each chess piece moves in a unique way.
4. The rules of checkmate and draw.

The game of chess offers countless learning opportunities. Herbert A. Simon and Peter A. Simon, in their study “Trial and Error Search in Solving Difficult Problems: Evidence from the Game of Chess” (Behavioral Science, 7(4), 425-429), suggest that grandmasters perform feats of memory and discovery that seem unachievable by ordinary people. The greatest chess players challenge current theories about problem-solving processes, making chess a grand master in human mind development.

Additionally, Michel, William M. Bart, et al. in “Functional MRI Study of High-Level Cognition” (Cognitive Brain Research, 16(1), 26-31, 2003), suggest that chess involves many aspects of high-level cognition and requires sophisticated problem-solving skills. Blair Nthiga undoubtedly possesses these skills.

Chess, as a world-recognized game, also opens up opportunities that can translate into a lifelong career. Magnus Carlsen, the first player to eclipse $10,000,000 in earnings from major tournaments, sponsorships, royalties, and endorsements, exemplifies the potential career opportunities in chess. Coaching and training individuals or institutions are other viable career paths.

Congratulations to Blair Nthiga for his dedicated effort and hard work. Among those who have congratulated him is the area Member of Parliament. Blair exemplifies the “will to win, desire to succeed, and the urge to reach full potential.”

In October 2024, Blair will represent Kenya in Brazil. Let’s wish him all the best as he raises the Embian flag, the Kenyan flag, and the African flag in the world of chess.

Once again, congratulations to the young Blair Nthiga.


Article By Suzy Nyongesa.


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