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Sam Sloan
Posted: Wed Nov 24, 2004 12:06 pm
 
In 1986, the most promising and talented young player in America was
KK Karanja, aged 13. He was African-American in the truest sense of
the word, because his parents were diplomats from Kenya, but KK was
born in the USA. His full name was Kangugi Karanja, but everyone just
called him KK

KK was USCF rated a full 200 points higher than any other child in his
age group. I was convinced that he was going to become a grandmaster.
I am surprised that this never happened.

I believe that the first time I met him was in 1986 at a chess club on
the Upper West Side of New York City. The club was in the 90s on the
West side of Broadway. I played KK a bunch of five minute games. I do
not remember who came out ahead, but we finished about even. His
father sat there and intensely watched the games.

KK then directed me to a crazy looking guy sitting in the corner
wearing a "Hell's Anglesh-type biker jacket talking to himself. "Why
don't you play him. He's about a 2100 player", said KK.

I went over and played the crazy guy and to my great surprise he wiped
me out. I realized that he was a lot stronger than 2100. Later I
learned that he was Israel Zilber, a grandmaster strength player
recently arrived from Russia. Zilber is depicted in the movie
"Searching for Bobby Fischer". In the movie, he is the first opponent
young Josh plays in the park.

What I remember about my games against Zilber was that I had just
started playing the very questionable Englund Gambit. 1. d4 e5. The
Gambit is refuted, but nobody knows the refutation, except Zilber that
is. Zilber reeled off the book refutation pronto and I did not try it
against him again.

A few weeks later, I met KK Karanja again at the 1986 World Under-14
Championship in San Juan Puerto Rico. An incident took place in that
tournament. KK had white against Zsofia Polgar. Polgar played the
opening badly and got a lost position. She set a trap. Sophia
pretended to leave a piece hanging. However, if KK grabbed the piece,
he could not back out. Sophia had a skewer along the e-file to win the
game.

KK did not take long. He grabbed the piece, falling right into the
trap. Sophia Polgar won the game.

KKs father, a diplomat from Kenya, went around the tournament raving
about how his son had blundered. Finally, I told the father the truth.
KK had not blundered. He had fallen into a carefully laid trap and
there was no way out. I showed him on the board how KK could not
escape once he took the piece. It looked at first that KK had enough
time to retreat his queen after grabbing the piece, but in fact the
queen had no way to back out in time.

This made KKs father even more angry. Now, he went around the
tournament saying that 11-year-old Sophia Polgar could not possibly
have come up with such a brilliant trap on her own. She must have
cheated, he said.

Of course, this was not true. This trap, while profound, was easily
within the capabilities of Sophia Polgar, who eventually finished
second in the tournament. Joel Lautier won.

That was the last I ever heard of KK Karanja. I believe that he
stopped playing chess shortly after that. His name does not appear on
the USCF rating list database. He is not on the FIDE list either. Even
at age 13 he would have been the strongest chess player in Kenya, if
he ever played there.

Sam Sloan
 
Hans-Georg Michna
Posted: Wed Nov 24, 2004 1:10 pm
 
On Wed, 24 Nov 2004 15:06:41 GMT, sloan@ishipress.com (Sam
Sloan) wrote:

Quote:
In 1986, the most promising and talented young player in America was
KK Karanja, aged 13. He was African-American in the truest sense of
the word, because his parents were diplomats from Kenya, but KK was
born in the USA. His full name was Kangugi Karanja, but everyone just
called him KK
[...]
That was the last I ever heard of KK Karanja. I believe that he
stopped playing chess shortly after that. His name does not appear on
the USCF rating list database. He is not on the FIDE list either. Even
at age 13 he would have been the strongest chess player in Kenya, if
he ever played there.

Sam,

all I could find is this:
http://www.google.com/search?q=%22Kangugi+Karanja%22+OR+%22KK+Karanja%22+chess

Hans-Georg

--
No mail, please.
 
Rob Mitchell
Posted: Wed Nov 24, 2004 3:36 pm
 
Sam,
I Googled KK and came up with this link:
http://www.thechessdrum.net/drummajors/KK_Karanja.html
Shows him with a 2193 rating.
Rob

sloan@ishipress.com (Sam Sloan) wrote in message news:<41a4a2ae.70024046@ca.news.verio.net>...
Quote:
In 1986, the most promising and talented young player in America was
KK Karanja, aged 13. He was African-American in the truest sense of
the word, because his parents were diplomats from Kenya, but KK was
born in the USA. His full name was Kangugi Karanja, but everyone just
called him KK

KK was USCF rated a full 200 points higher than any other child in his
age group. I was convinced that he was going to become a grandmaster.
I am surprised that this never happened.

I believe that the first time I met him was in 1986 at a chess club on
the Upper West Side of New York City. The club was in the 90s on the
West side of Broadway. I played KK a bunch of five minute games. I do
not remember who came out ahead, but we finished about even. His
father sat there and intensely watched the games.

KK then directed me to a crazy looking guy sitting in the corner
wearing a "Hell's Anglesh-type biker jacket talking to himself. "Why
don't you play him. He's about a 2100 player", said KK.

I went over and played the crazy guy and to my great surprise he wiped
me out. I realized that he was a lot stronger than 2100. Later I
learned that he was Israel Zilber, a grandmaster strength player
recently arrived from Russia. Zilber is depicted in the movie
"Searching for Bobby Fischer". In the movie, he is the first opponent
young Josh plays in the park.

What I remember about my games against Zilber was that I had just
started playing the very questionable Englund Gambit. 1. d4 e5. The
Gambit is refuted, but nobody knows the refutation, except Zilber that
is. Zilber reeled off the book refutation pronto and I did not try it
against him again.

A few weeks later, I met KK Karanja again at the 1986 World Under-14
Championship in San Juan Puerto Rico. An incident took place in that
tournament. KK had white against Zsofia Polgar. Polgar played the
opening badly and got a lost position. She set a trap. Sophia
pretended to leave a piece hanging. However, if KK grabbed the piece,
he could not back out. Sophia had a skewer along the e-file to win the
game.

KK did not take long. He grabbed the piece, falling right into the
trap. Sophia Polgar won the game.

KKs father, a diplomat from Kenya, went around the tournament raving
about how his son had blundered. Finally, I told the father the truth.
KK had not blundered. He had fallen into a carefully laid trap and
there was no way out. I showed him on the board how KK could not
escape once he took the piece. It looked at first that KK had enough
time to retreat his queen after grabbing the piece, but in fact the
queen had no way to back out in time.

This made KKs father even more angry. Now, he went around the
tournament saying that 11-year-old Sophia Polgar could not possibly
have come up with such a brilliant trap on her own. She must have
cheated, he said.

Of course, this was not true. This trap, while profound, was easily
within the capabilities of Sophia Polgar, who eventually finished
second in the tournament. Joel Lautier won.

That was the last I ever heard of KK Karanja. I believe that he
stopped playing chess shortly after that. His name does not appear on
the USCF rating list database. He is not on the FIDE list either. Even
at age 13 he would have been the strongest chess player in Kenya, if
he ever played there.

Sam Sloan

 
ian burton
Posted: Wed Nov 24, 2004 10:17 pm
 
"Hans-Georg Michna" <hans-georgNoEmailPlease@michna.com> wrote in message
news:0ic9q0psphmblb12udrc9fgtd86u9j9lk8@4ax.com...
Quote:
On Wed, 24 Nov 2004 15:06:41 GMT, sloan@ishipress.com (Sam
Sloan) wrote:

In 1986, the most promising and talented young player in America was
KK Karanja, aged 13. He was African-American in the truest sense of
the word, because his parents were diplomats from Kenya, but KK was
born in the USA. His full name was Kangugi Karanja, but everyone just
called him KK
[...]
That was the last I ever heard of KK Karanja. I believe that he
stopped playing chess shortly after that. His name does not appear on
the USCF rating list database. He is not on the FIDE list either. Even
at age 13 he would have been the strongest chess player in Kenya, if
he ever played there.

Sam,

all I could find is this:

http://www.google.com/search?q=%22Kangugi+Karanja%22+OR+%22KK+Karanja%22+chess


One problem with one or two or more of the stories about KK is that they
cite his going to the "Hunter School for the Gifted." There is no school in
NYC known as the "Hunter School for the Gifted." Why believe anything else?
(Yes, yes, I know Hunter College has an elementary school for children with
high IQs, but why not just say so?)
--
Ian Burton
[Please Reply to Newsgroup]

Quote:

Hans-Georg

--
No mail, please.

 
EZoto
Posted: Fri Nov 26, 2004 9:34 am
 
I remember this guy your talking about. I played a couple of blitz
games at 14th street at the chess center long ago. The super hype was
so nauseating. I won every game I played against him and enjoyed
watching his father tell people how inferior I was and people like me
I shouldn't lose to. Then KK insulted me saying I cheated. A friend
of mine named Jose Lahoz was a whole lot more talented than KK ever
was. Again all hype and publicity. When you have the money you can
make people believe anything.

EZoto
 
Ray Gordon
Posted: Sun Nov 28, 2004 11:38 am
 
Quote:
I remember this guy your talking about. I played a couple of blitz
games at 14th street at the chess center long ago. The super hype was
so nauseating. I won every game I played against him and enjoyed
watching his father tell people how inferior I was and people like me
I shouldn't lose to. Then KK insulted me saying I cheated. A friend
of mine named Jose Lahoz was a whole lot more talented than KK ever
was. Again all hype and publicity. When you have the money you can
make people believe anything.

I saw KK around some tournaments in 1987 but then he didn't play much where
I was playing at least. He seemed pretty polite, and carried an expert's
rating. He was one of many children USCF was trying to hype as being the
"future of American chess." My personal take was that he was a nice kid and
caught up in the youth bias.

I recall a few chess writers of the day trying to portray him as a gifted
child from the inner city. I believe he went to Hunter if I'm not mistaken.
 
Sam Sloan
Posted: Mon Nov 29, 2004 11:29 am
 
On Sun, 28 Nov 2004 14:38:26 GMT, "Ray Gordon" <ray@cybersheet.com>
wrote:

Quote:
I recall a few chess writers of the day trying to portray him as a gifted
child from the inner city. I believe he went to Hunter if I'm not mistaken.

You are absolutely right about that. He was Black but he was not from
the inner city by any means. His parents were both diplomats and
financially well off.

There is somebody by that name with the Embassy of Kenya in Washington
DC. I suspect that that is his father or mother.

Sam Sloan
 
 
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