Stanley Omondi, a male chess player, could face a lengthy ban from the sport after he was caught camouflaging himself in a hijab to compete in the women’s section of the 2023 Kenya Open Chess Championship.
Victor Ng’ani, a member of the Chess Kenya Disciplinary Committee, stated that they will deal with the matter once they receive a formal complaint from the Executive Committee of the Bernard Wanjala-led federation.
While Ng’ani ruled out a life ban, he said that Omondi would be banned from the sport for a long time.
Omondi registered for the tournament under the name Millicent Awuor and only raised suspicion after easily defeating former Kenya National Chess Championship Women’s section winner, Gloria Jumba, and Ugandan top player, Ampaira Shakira.
He admitted to being male after being interrogated in a private room by the tournament’s arbiters, saying that financial problems at university pushed him to cheat in the tournament.
Omondi had hoped to win the Sh500,000 cash prize for the women’s section winner.
Many local chess players competing in the tournament started questioning where “she” had been during other important national chess tournaments.
It was after he was interrogated that Omondi admitted his deception.
He had avoided playing in the Open Section, where Sh1 million was at stake, and which was reserved for all men and willing ladies because of the stiff competition.
With seven Grandmasters, seven International Masters, seven Fide Masters, and five Candidate Masters competing in the Open Section, Omondi had no chance of winning.
Omondi plays for a top university in the Kenya National Chess Premier League and has a rating of around 1200.
When contacted, he declined to speak much about the incident, only stating that he is waiting to defend himself before the Chess Kenya Disciplinary Committee.
Jumba said that she did not notice anything fishy about Omondi throughout the time that they played, and he was a good player who capitalized on his mistakes.
The incident shocked both the local and international chess community.
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