Despite missing the opening four rounds, the national women?s chess team on Wednesday beat Palestine 3-1 in round five of the 2016 Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan.
The team of four is self-sponsored at the event after Interim Chess Kenya (ICK) failed in its bid to get both men and women?s team to the biennial competition. The men?s team comprising of five players and their coach did not travel.
The quartet arrived in Baku on Tuesday before taking on their Palestinian opponents at the Baku Crystal Hall.
Gloria Jumba, playing on board one, got Kenya off to a winning start after she beat Woman Candidate Master (WCM) Faqeeh Rahaf before the Palestinians levelled the tie after Albzoor Anwar beat WCM Jane Wambugu.
The Kenyan girls would eventually go on to win board three and four matches through WCM Purity Maina and debutant WCM Joyce Nyaruai to seal their first win at the competition. The duo saw off Faqeeh Aseel and Faqeeh Yara respectively.
It was a morale boosting win for the Kenyans who are ranked in position 115, one ahead of their opponents. Nyaruai was thrilled with the win and believes the team can finish in a higher position.
?We were up against an equally rated opponent and totally deserved to win the match despite the challenges. It is a dream come true to represent the country at the Olympiads. I have worked hard for the last two years to reach here,? Nyaruai told Daily Nation Sport.
The team has no reserve player after the fifth player Woman Fide Master (WFM) and the country?s top ranked female player Riya Shah failed to travel. Team coach Moses Andiwoh also failed to make the trip.
The country is now at position 127 out of 140 countries taking part in the women?s competition.
Kenya will take on Maldives today in the sixth round with five more rounds to come in the competition that will end on September 14.
Both teams (men and women) had been assured by the Interim Chess Kenya (ICK) officials that air tickets for the event had been secured. The teams were to depart the country last Wednesday but were told the tickets would arrive on Saturday.
On Saturday, ICK Chair Bernard Wanjala informed the players that the African Chess Federation had pulled the plug on sponsoring the team under unclear circumstances.
?We completely failed in taking the team to this prestigious event after the continental body left us on our own at the last minute after promising to ensure our players take part in the competition,? Wanjala told Daily Nation Sport last Saturday.