Kenyan Male Chess Player Disguises As Woman To Win Championship Tournament

At the Kenya Open Chess Championship in Nairobi, a sneaky man dressed as a woman managed to cheat his way through to the female section of the tournament

Aastha Dhillon
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Male Kenyan player dresses as Girl
A chess scandal has shaken the world after a male player entered a women's competition in Kenya dressed as a girl. The Kenya Open Chess Championship is a fiercely disputed annual celebration that attracts the majority of Africa's best players as well as top players from around the globe.

The impostor, who kept his true identity a secret by wearing a niqab and never speaking to anyone, registered under the name Millicent Awuor, fooling even the tournament staff.

He cloaked from head to toe in a burqa and wearing glasses, did not raise any suspicions at first, but when she started beating high-class opponents, which include former national champion Gloria Jumba and best Ugandan player Ampaira Shakira, the alarm bells started ringing, with a pair of shoes finally giving 'her' away.

Male Kenyan player dresses as Girl: "Willing to endure all consequences"

Officials eventually rumbled the disguise and caught Stanley Omondi, though they oddly let him continue until the fourth round for fear of being chastised and convicted of profiling by observers due to the religious garb he was wearing. Omondi revealed to tournament authorities that he had been an honest cop and apologised for his deception, revealing he needed the cash - the champion of the women's department received $3,000 (£2,400). He stated that he was "ready to bear" any and all penalties.

Omondi, a competent player in his rights who believed he had a greater chance fighting against women, will now face a lifetime ban from the sport, though Chess Kenya president Bernard Wanjala has stated that he will not be permanently banned.

Confession behind the failed attempt


According to Wanjala of BBC Sport Africa, "He accepted that he is a man - he regrets what happened, apologised, and claimed he was only doing it because he was having financial difficulties and felt that winning the title will help him overcome. We initially had no suspicions because donning a hijab is common, but as the game progressed, we noticed he won against some pretty strong opponents. His shoes, which were more masculine than feminine, were another warning sign that we saw. We also noticed that he wasn't speaking; even when he went to grab his tag, he was unable to do so. Normally, when playing chess, you chat with your opponent because the game promotes camaraderie rather than hostilities."

The women's event, which was eventually won by German grandmaster Josefine Heinemann, drew 99 entries, while the overall event drew nearly 400 competitors from 22 countries. While Kenya's chess federation has dealt with cases of age falsification in the past, this is the first of its sort.

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