Draughts: Goj, Francis To Face Off In Kenya Open

Goj Odhiambo (Right) battling reigning world champion (GAYP) and Grandmaster Lubabalo Kondlo of South Africa at the World Championships Qualifiers in Antalya, Turkey early this year. PHOTO/ WORLD CHECKERS DRAUGHTS FEDERATION.

NAIROBI, Kenya – East African draughts champion Crispin ‘Goj’ Odhiambo is set to battle world beaters from Barbados in the 2023 Kenya Open to be held this weekend at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies in Nairobi.

Odhiambo will also face off with the two dreaded Barbadians; John ‘Jack’ Francis and Ronald ‘Suki’ King at the historic Mbotela Social Hall on Jamhuri Day in a best of ten series to be played on 3-variation move.

Francis is expected into the country on Thursday evening while King is still making arrangements for his arrival in Kenya.

Francis and King recently topped the Scottish 3-Move Draughts Championship in Scotland that gave them wide accolades from across the globe.

The Grand Master duo have also represented Barbados at the world championships severally where they have also faced each other.

They have also qualified  for the US Open countless times in their over two decade rivalry that has given them legendary status in Barbados.

Goj, who will be defending the Kenya Open title for the umpteenth time, says he’s not shaken to battle the Barbadians as he has done his home work so well.

Goj is motivated by the clean sheet record he posted at the recently concluded World Championships Qualifiers in Antalya, Turkey where he topped the standings together with Melikaya Nonyukela of South Africa, only for the latter to grab gold on a tie-break countback that involved analyzing the caliber of opponents each player has faced in the recent past.

Goj is also inspired by the fact that he beat reigning world champion Kondlo Lubabalo of South Africa in Turkey before he went ahead to smash four bronze and four silvers at the just concluded Africa Championships in Zambia.

“I’m ready for the Kenya Open, facing the Barbadians in the country is also going to uplift the standards of the game locally,” Goj told Standard Sports.

Goj feels his skills could have been sharpened even further had he had the opportunity to travel to America where he was invited for the US Open following his stellar performance in Turkey.

Crispin Goj Odhiambo (purple shirt) and Kenya Draughts Association Treasurer Charles Musyoka flexing their ‘muscles’ at Umoja Two Draughts Base ahead of the 2023 Kenya Open slated for this weekend at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies in Nairobi. PHOTO/ SPORTSDESK

He missed the lucrative  American tournament that had over Sh5 million purse money due to visa hitch.

“I was on fire, I could have dipped my hands into the cookie jar going by my inform,” Goj stated.

Apart from Goj, other top four players from Kenya Open will be allowed by the Kenya Draughts Association (KDA) to face off with the Barbadians in Mbotela.

KDA treasurer Charles Musyoka says they have already received 47 strong entries from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania ahead of the Kenya Open.

Musyoka reiterated that only top three players from the tournament will be allowed to fly the country’s flag high at international championships in 2024.

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