The Kenyan man wore a hijab and signed up for the female section of the 2023 Open Chess Championship.
A Kenyan man has been exposed for disguising himslf as a woman in order to compete in the female section of the 2023 Open Chess Championship in Nairobi. Stanley Omondi wore a hijab and registered for the women’s tournament under the name Millicent Awuor, local media reported on Thursday.
Omondi, who is said to have avoided interactions with other players, raised suspicions after defeating former Kenyan champion Gloria Jumba and Uganda’s top player, Ampaira Shakira.
According to reports, he admitted to being a man after being questioned by arbiters, and cited financial difficulties as the reason for his conduct.
Omondi told tournament officials that he chose not to compete in the Open Section, which was open to all men and featured a $7,440 prize, due to intense competition. He was hoping to win the $3,720 prize for the women’s section, which is half of what he would have won if he had proven victorious in the open male event.
Victor Ng’ani, a member of the Chess Kenya Disciplinary Committee, told media that if found guilty of fraud, Omondi faces a lengthy ban from the sport.
“It is serious enough to warrant an extensive penalty,” Ng’ani said, adding that the committee has previously punished “small offenses, including age cheating, with a six-month ban.”
The Kenya Open Chess Championship, held at the Sarit Expo Center in Nairobi in the second week of April, drew over 400 players from 22 federations.
This incident follows a major chess scandal last year, when American teenage newcomer Hans Niemann was accused of cheating in a game with world champion Magnus Carlsen. Norway’s Carlsen resigned from an online match against the American teenager after making just one move. Carlsen later issued a statement via social media in which he noted his suspicion at Niemann’s recent play amid what, Carlsen alleged, was a near-impossible uptick in his abilities on the chess board, and hinted that he believed that Niemann was engaging in a sophisticated fraud. Niemann has, however, sternly rejected any such allegations.