History of NCC

Nairobi Chess Club (NCC) was officially registered on February 26, 1958. It is the oldest chess club in Kenya, and probably in East Africa. 

However, records indicate that the club was in existence even before that.  An extract from volume 62 of the British Chess Magazine in 1922 reads:

NCC has played a key role in the development of chess in Kenya. Chess Kenya (formerly Kenya Chess Association) was only formed about 18 years later on September 22, 1976.


Past and present officials of the club include:

  • Noel James Roughton (Chairman), who died on July 4, 1953 was the European Champion of Kenya in 1951.
  • Peter LePelly (Chairman)
  • Aslam Adam (Tournament Director)
  • Mr Young (Chairman)
  • Karl Lisner (Secretary)
  • Sam Oulo (Chairman)
  • Clement Miheso (Chairman)
  • Kim Bhari (Chairman)
  • Willy Simons (Chairman)

Peter le Pelley

Kim Bhari, the longest-lasting Chairman of
NCC with 28 years in the post (1994-2022)

NCC used to meet weekly at the French Cultural Centre and at the Devon Hotel. But in the 1980s the club lost its venue at French Cultural Centre and generally went into a decline due to various factors. On January29,1994 Kim Bhari was elected Chairman and this represented Nairobi Chess Club’s revival.

Prominent Players

Prominent players of NCC include:

  • Saif Kanani, represented Kenya at a number of Olympiads and obtained a silver medal for Board 1 at the 1980 Olympiad held in Malta with a score of 9.5/12.  This represents Kenya’s only medal at the Olympiad.
  • Richard Polaczek, won the inaugural Kenya Open in 1979 at the age of 13. Is now an IM residing in Belgium, and has represented Belgium in a number of international events.
  • Nazir Lome who played in the 1976 Olympiad.
  • Aslam Adam, winner of the Kenya Open 1981. Now resides in London, UK.
  • Mehul Gohil, won the Nairobi Open 2016 and Kenya Open 2019. He played board 1 at the 2012 Olympiad and represented Kenya at the 2011 and 2019 African Games.
  • Peter Gilruth, for a long time the highest-rated chess player in Kenya. He is an active player in local and international events, with great success.
  • Others include Raymond Colaco, Teo Fernandes, Percy Baretto.
Standing left to right: Joseph Kaamu, Richard Polaczek, Nazir Lome, Managing Director of Robbialac Paints (sponsor), Aslam Adam, Saif Kanani, AWL Turner and in the wheelchair is Hofelick who worked with the German Embassy. (Photo credit Aslam Adam)
Saif Kanani (sitting left sipping a soft drink) plays former World Champion Boris Spassky during the 1984 Chess Olympiad in Dubai, United Arab Emirates
From left to right: Peter Gilruth, Mehul Gohil, Vasanth Ramesh, Roberto Villuela & Rebecca Nyamahiga


NCC is a small but active club in Kenya and its mission is to provide opportunities for local chess players through events during the year. All of them are possible thanks to sponsorships.

Past and present sponsors of NCC are:

  • Robbialac Paints Kenya Ltd, sponsored tournaments organized by Nairobi Chess Club early in the 1980s
  • Pan Paper Ltd of Webuye, Kenya, sponsored the Kenya Open Chess Tournament in the period 1979 to 1992
  • Dr Mujahid Feroze Din, an ENT specialist in Nairobi and long time supporter of NCC. His relation with NCC started with his father, who was a close friend of our chairman Kim Bhari
  • Aslam Adam was the first Tournament Director of NCC and a committed player for our club. He was the winner of the Kenya Open in 1981. Adam is a long-time supporter of NCC
  • Tarpo Industries Ltd, long time supporter of the Nairobi Chess Club
  • ARM Engineering Ltd, a company owned by chess enthusiast Rodger Adai
  • Safaricom, sponsored the online match Nairobi-Wageningen in 2009

Other sponsors include: Allpack Industries Ltd, Niels Lauritsen, Mehul Gohil, Jacaranda Hotels, Dr Nikolai van Beek, Peter Gilruth, Kange Saiti, Humphrey Andolo, Ms Shah, Ms Srungarapu Naga, Kishen Iyengar, Mr Satish Deshpande, Mushfig Habilov…

Chess Events

In its history, NCC organized many chess events:

  • Kenya Open. From 1979 to 1992 NCC successfully ran the Kenya Open Chess Tournament that was sponsored by Pan Paper Ltd of Webuye, Kenya. This event was traditionally held over the Easter weekend.  The event used to attract a huge number of foreigners, particularly Ugandans.
  • Hindu Council Open, May 1993
  • International Casino Open, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996
  • Kisumu Lions Club Chess Championship, Oct. 1993
  • Speed Chess at United Kenya Club, held in conjunction with Kenya Chess Association, Feb. 5, 1994 & Feb. 26, 1994
  • Speed Chess League (Apr. 2009) with participation on 11 teams.
  • Internet match against Wageningen Chess Club of Holland (Oct. 3, 2009) proudly sponsored by Safaricom
  • Fizza Blitz Invitational Chess, Aug. 21, 2010
  • NCC organized a chess clinic with GM Dimitri Reinderman from Holland from July 21-28, 2011. Dimitri held a 35 player simultaneous match on July 23 winning 33 and 2 draws.  This event was proudly sponsored by Jacaranda Hotels, Tarpo Ltd, Dr Nikolai van Beek, Peter Gilruth and Kange Saiti.
  • Nairobi Chess Club vs Team Uganda (“The Battle for Migingo”). This competition has seen three editions: 2012, 2013 and 2014.
Peter Gilruth (left) and Ben Nguku in action during the internet match against Wageningen
GM Dimitri Reinderman during the simultaneous match
Haruna Nsubuga (left) takes on Ben Magana during the second edition of “The Battle for Migingo” (2013)

NCC takes part and regularly organizes the following events:

  • Capablanca Cup, usually at the beginning of the year
  • Jamhuri Cup, yearly around Dec.12th
  • Le Pelley Cup, yearly around EasterNairobi Chess Club Championship, flagship event held in the month of August.

One team representing NCC takes part every year in the Kenya Chess Premier League.

Playing hall during the 54th Nairobi Chess Club Championship (2013)
Willy Simons (left) and Mushfig Habilov (right) in action during the 4th Capablanca Cup (2014)


Along with regular chess training activities, NCC offers chess lessons for beginners.

Under the guidance of Karan Christie, a group of juniors is receiving instruction in all aspects of the game. They are showing great promise, as they obtained good results in recent competitions.

Our juniors in a recent friendly match against Westland Chess Club, Apr. 2, 2022