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3-Year Ban For Kenyan Player Who Pretended To Be A Woman To Win Lucrative Prize
The impostor during play. Photo courtesy Chess Kenia.

3-Year Ban For Kenyan Player Who Pretended To Be A Woman To Win Lucrative Prize

PeterDoggers
| 225 | Misc

A mysterious participant in the women's section of the Kenya Open Chess Championship in Nairobi, Kenya was exposed as a male impostor and removed from the tournament. The player, whose identity was not made public, admitted to the cheating and said it was motivated by financial problems. He has now been banned for three years from playing official games in Kenya.

The player had registered under the name Millicent Awuor for the women's section of the Kenya Open, which is currently underway. He raised suspicion when he won two games in a row, including a win against the former national champion Gloria Jumba (rated 1487), before losing to the Ugandan top player Ampaira Shakira (rated 1702).

To keep his identity hidden, he was wearing a niqab each day which left only his glasses and eyes visible. After the end of his games, he wouldn't talk to anyone. When registering for the tournament, the player "never uttered a word" and "simply wrote on a paper his name," according to organizer and Kenyan Chess Federation President Benard Wanjala.

Chief arbiter Antony Kionga told Chess.com that the staff initially was cautious to interfere, as they were taking into account the possibility that they were dealing with an orthodox Muslim woman. However, as the tournament went underway, both players and arbiters noticed that the person in question had an odd walking style and was wearing shoes commonly used by men.

Imposter chess player Kenya
The impostor player. Photo courtesy Chess Kenia.

After the fourth round, Kionga decided to take the player to a private room, where he asked for an identification document. The player, a university student, then admitted to his wrongdoing. "The reason was due to financial needs but I deeply regret my action and [am] ready to accept all consequences," he wrote in a letter.

Thanks to exceptional sponsorship, this year's Kenya Open tournament has a total prize fund of $42,000. There are 10 prizes in the women's section, which has a first prize of 500,000 Kenyan Shillings ($3,815). The open section, where the first prize is one million Kenyan Shillings ($7,630), attracted seven international grandmasters.

The impostor player, who has an international classical rating close to 1500 and a blitz rating close to 1750, has been expelled from the tournament and the points that he scored were reversed and awarded to his opponents.

The National Disciplinary Committee imposed a ban on the player from all events held or sanctioned by Chess Kenya for a period of three years starting from April 20, 2023.

The Kenya Open Chess Championship has attracted almost 450 players from 22 federations. The tournament takes place April 6-10, 2023, at the Sarit Expo Center in Nairobi, Kenya.

2023 Kenyan Open Chess Championship
The playing hall. Photo courtesy Chess Kenia.
PeterDoggers
Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by Chess.com in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

In October, Peter's first book The Chess Revolution will be published!


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