This was my second best game, not because I played particularly well, but because I overcame huge psychological odds to win this one. Any one who plays chess understands that psychology/mental disposition plays a big role in performance. If you are scared of (or have too much respect for) your opponent, your chances of losing are 70% or higher.
My opponent in the last round was someone I was already scared of – for no particular reason. His official rating is in the respectable 1700 to 1800 range, while I have lost to a below-1300 before. This is how the game went. Continue reading
(This post is about chess – the game. If you don’t play chess, and you have zero interest in the game, please just ignore)
Over the weekend of 22nd and 23rd August, 2015, I took part in Nairobi Chess Clubs 57th Championships. It was my best chess tournament ever, considering that I won a prize for the first time since I started playing chess – KES 1700 for coming in fourth in the open section. I had two or three really nice games, but the most memorable was in round 5 against a youngster named Srinjay. This is how it went: Continue reading
“Hey, this is a really great thing we have going on here.”
“Don’t you remember how terrible everything was, not so long ago?”
“I do. We were quite miserable, actually.”
“But now, things are looking brighter, aren’t they?”
“Indeed they are.”
“And it’s because this thing happened, right?”
“True. So what do we do?”
“I’m glad you asked! I’ve been asking myself the same question. What do you think we should do?”
“Uhmmm…let me think. <long pause>. I think we should kill it. It’s too disruptive.”
“Wow! You read my mind. Let’s kill it. Slowly. Bit by bit. One insignificant step at a time.”
“Yeah! Let’s do it. After all, we are human, and that’s our nature.”
…innocent shed blood does indeed speak from the ground?
…the blood of the children we butchered in 2007/08 is still crying out, for justice?
…our peace and security can only be guaranteed after we deal with that “dark moment” honestly, comprehensively, and without sparing any sacred cows?
…in the spirit of accepting and moving on, we have sacrificed our ability or willingness to do this, at the altar of political expediency?
Mitt Romney’s infamous 47% remark may have been in bad taste and not entirely accurate, but he had a point. In any political contest, each main candidate (or horse, in Kenyan political speak), has an army of loyalists who will support them, no matter what. In our Kenyan reality, unfortunately, such loyalties are mostly defined by tribe and tribal alliances. But even in our case, there always remains a few people, the centre, whose allegiance is, to an extent, determined by more objective considerations.
It is impossible to be 100% neutral. Some of those in this centre may therefore lean slightly left or slightly right. But one of their defining characteristics is the ability to note and acknowledge the good and the ugly of all the players, and to decide to swing one way or the other depending on the aggregate of all those factors.
One of the biggest mistakes of Kenya’s political elite, especially those in the “Big Two” alliances – CORD and Jubilee – is choosing to ignore this centre. Sometimes, the centre is too small to matter in the political equation. But the centre is dynamic, and it grows. It may mean the difference between 49.999% and 50% + 1.
I hope you are listening, CORD.
Two weeks ago, three men robbed me of my laptop and phone. This happened just outside The Bazaar on Moi Avenue, Nairobi, at around 8.30 PM.
On any other day, I would probably have reacted riskily (or stupidly if you wish). But on this day, I wasn’t in a risk-taking mood. I complied with their orders, on the assumption that what they showed me was a real gun, not a toy. Call it Stockholm Syndrome, but I was somewhat touched when they accepted to give me back my keys, which were in the laptop bag, and my Telkom Wireless CDMA phone, whose resale value is almost zero anyway. One of them demanded for my wedding ring, but I told him to be reasonable: they already had the laptop (an HP Elitebook 8460p) and the phone (an Ideos), asking for the ring was asking for too much. Surprisingly, that worked.
What struck me about the incident is how people around me reacted. Two ladies were walking straight into my path. On seeing what was happening, they quickly ran away, quite understandably. Several other people walked past us during the two or three minutes that the ordeal lasted, but none noticed anything wrong. Right across the street, a few people were just watching, ostensibly aware of what was happening, but not willing to do anything about it. Then I remembered an earlier account by one @sokoanalyst on twitter, how he was robbed in broad day light as a traffic police officer and other motorists watched. Plus several other similar stories.
The Kenya Defence Forces have, understandably, come under stinging criticism from the public in the past few days, following their performance during the Westgate “siege”. If you have been following the news, you must definitely have seen the CCTV clips showing soldiers apparently looting from some of the shops at Westgate while the “rescue” was ongoing. And this is what triggered most of the outrage against KDF.
Whereas a good part of this outrage is justified, I think we are taking it overboard without considering KDF’s side of the story. Don’t get me wrong, I abhor most of the BS the government feeds us with as “official truth”, and that’s not the side of the story I am talking about here. But below is why I think we’ve lost our objectivity in this KDF issue.
The impression we have created is that KDF duped all of us, including the commander in chief, to think that they were dealing with the terrorists all those four days that the “siege” lasted, while in actual fact they were busy looting. They also lied to us that there were between 10 and fifteen terrorists, when in fact there were only four. To further hide their incompetence, they lied to us that they had killed five of the attackers, yet in truth all the attackers may have escaped on day one.
And what are we basing our truth on? The CCTV clips and the media investigative reports.
Let’s for a moment consider the clips. Certainly, their content is almost irrefutable. But were these the only clips from all the CCTV cameras at Westgate? Or is it possible that the media only got some, but not all of the available clips? Could there have been other terrorists not captured in the few clips that the media obtained? Remember the TV eyewitness who claimed that one of the attackers of Arabian descent escaped as people were being evacuated from the mall? In light of the new CCTV evidence, has his testimony been invalidated?
All hail the king
Anointed of God to be master and lord
Let’s sing his praises, let’s kiss his behind
Let’s prostrate at his feet, adore his infallibility
His wisdom is infinite, his intentions impeccable
Service to humanity is his only mission.
Egoistic princes of darkness, bent on subversion
Seek to sow seeds of doubt and disaffection against the messiah
These, the king must deal with, to asseverate his kingliness
And all patriotic duty-bound non-idiots must rise to the occassion too
The world must know, that despite what’s written, the king is king
The epitome of virtue.
Oh hail the king!
Push sycophancy (and the blind loyalty) aside for a moment. Find the inner courage to tell the king the unpleasant truth. He is naked, and setting all of us up for ridicule. Not that he doesn’t know, he is relishing our useful idiocy as he satisifes his exhibitionist tendencies.
Thank God for the peace that prevailed during and after the elections. We all know how disastrous it would have been if we went back the 2007/08 path. Every Kenyan, the media included, played an important role in ensuring this peace, so congratulations are in order.
However, as many sober minds have pointed out, it will be very unfortunate and retrogressive to use “peace” and “moving on” as an excuse for stifling the voices of those raising questions about the integrity of the whole electoral exercise. True, we don’t want unnecessary tension in the country. True also, we want to get back to building the nation and living our lives. But if indeed the rigging allegations are true, it is in Kenya’s best interests to have this corrected.
Why are we condemning CORD and Raila Odinga without even considering the evidence they have? Rigging is theft, an evil against the whole country, and it doesn’t become less evil just because my favorite candidate benefited from it. If we overlook it today, what justification would we have to condemn it tomorrow when applied to our disadvantage? And remember, evil begets more evil. If the perpetrators get away with it once, they know they can get away with other “minor things” several other times. And that’s how impunity gets entrenched. Continue reading