My name is Paras Gudka and I am a qualified freelance chess coach, chess organiser, and chess referee based in Parklands, Nairobi, Kenya.

My qualifications include the Developmental Instructor and International Arbiter titles awarded by the International Chess Federation (FIDE) after successful completion of trainers’ and arbiters’ seminars and gaining real-world experience. My instructor license is valid till December 2024 while my arbiter license is valid for life.

My detailed chess story can be found below.


History + Background

I began playing chess competitively in Nairobi at the age of 9 while in primary school and continued doing so till I was a 19-year-old college student in Bangalore, India.

Receiving a prize from Kenya no. 1 Humphrey Andolo in the mid-90s as the secretary of Kenya Chess Association (now treasurer of Nairobi Chess Club) Kim Bhari looks on

After an 8-year break from competitive chess while studying and working in India and the UK, I returned to Kenya in 2010, joined Nairobi Chess Club, and resumed playing in local tournaments and even represented my new club in that year’s Kenya National Chess League.

In August 2011, I founded Westlands Chess Club and was its president till May 2013 before moving to India for 2 years. In that period, I organised 9 tournaments of all formats and pairing systems and at least 1 simultaneous exhibition match and was the first organiser/arbiter to begin using Swiss Manager.

During my time in India, I managed to successfully participate in a FIDE Arbiters Seminar in New Delhi from which I received my FA (FIDE Arbiter) title. Also during this period, while on a visit to Kenya, I successfully participated in a FIDE Trainers Seminar in Cairo from which I received my DI (Developmental Instructor) title.

From 2013 to 2016, I wrote a weekly chess column in Kenya’s third-largest English daily The Star.

Paras Gudka's first chess column in The Star
Scanned copy of my first chess column in Kenya’s third-largest English daily The Star

After returning to Kenya in early 2015, I played in my first FIDE-rated tournaments (Rapid, Blitz, and Standard) later that year and returned to organising in December with a very small tournament for the Ismaili community as part of their Ismaili Games Kenya festival. This marked my first comeback as a chess organiser.

In February 2016, I founded Motochess Ventures and Anchor Chess Club to become a full-time chess entrepreneur. Through the former, I organised tournaments, taught beginners how to play, and sold chess equipment to fellow players, organisers, and trainers across East Africa. Through the latter, I put together teams for the 2016 and 2017 national leagues and organised various club-level tournaments and simultaneous exhibition matches. The 2016 league didn’t happen due to internal wrangles at Chess Kenya but Anchor Chess Club did manage to finish in fourth place on its debut in 2017.

With my Anchor Chess Club teammates Dev Shah, Brian Waweru, Glen Oruke, and Easter Awinja at the 2017 Kenya National Chess League

During this period, I upgraded my FIDE Arbiter title to International Arbiter after having officiated as an arbiter in enough international, continental, zonal, and national tournaments in Mauritius, Uganda, Tunisia, India, and Tanzania to earn the required norms.

Motochess Ventures was closed and Anchor Chess Club’s leadership was handed over to members in October 2017 before I moved to India a month later.

During my time in India, I worked very closely with Indian Chess School, managing their social media and website. I also contributed chess-related articles, interviews, and tutorials to high-traffic websites such as FirstpostChessBase India, and Africa Chess Media.

In December 2018 and January 2019, I worked as the press officer of Mumbai’s landmark annual chess extravaganza—the EKA IIFL Mumbai International Chess Tournament—producing daily reports on four separate tournaments within the event and conducting regular interviews with players, coaches, parents, and other people associated with the tournament.

Nairobi-based freelance chess professional Paras Gudka on his laptop at the EKA IIFL Mumbai International Chess Tournament
Writing and editing reports at the EKA IIFL Mumbai International Chess Tournament in January 2019

After 3 years in India, I returned to Nairobi in November 2020 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic to be closer to family.

From March to December 2021, I lived in Mombasa where I organised my first chess tournament in 4 years, the Close the Gap Pilot Chess Tournament. This marked my second comeback as a chess organiser.

I organised a total of 5 tournaments in Mombasa between September and December 2021, managing to win the most recent of them.

Posing with my prize after the end of the Torre & Cavallo Blitz Championship in December 2021

In January 2022, I returned to Nairobi permanently and am planning my next move as a chess professional after a break of a few months.


Qualifications + Experience | As a Chess Player

  • Federation: Kenya
  • Years active: 21
  • Tournaments won: 1
  • FIDE titles held: 0
  • Peak FIDE Standard rating: 1516 (Aug 2017)
  • Peak FIDE Rapid rating: 1474 (Jul 2017)
  • Peak FIDE Blitz rating: 1330 (Jan 2022)
  • Current national rank (active and inactive players): 475
  • Current continental rank (active and inactive players): 10,620
  • Current world rank (active and inactive players): 309,806
  • Countries played in:
    • Africa: Kenya
    • Asia: India, Nepal

Qualifications + Experience | As a Chess Organiser

  • Years active: 8
  • Unrated tournaments organised: 20
  • FIDE-rated tournaments organised:
    • Standard: 3
    • Rapid: 5
    • Blitz: 7
  • Simultaneous exhibitions organised: 3
  • Countries organised in:
    • Kenya
  • Cities/Towns organised in:
    • Nairobi
    • Mombasa
    • Nyeri

Qualifications + Experience | As a Chess Arbiter

  • Years active: 10
  • FIDE seminars attended successfully: 2
  • FIDE titles held:
    • FIDE Arbiter: July 2014 to April 2017
    • International Arbiter: May 2017 to Present (Category ‘D’)
  • World tournaments officiated in: 0
  • International tournaments officiated in: 2
  • Continental tournaments officiated in: 3
  • Zonal tournaments officiated in: 1
  • National tournaments officiated in: 1
  • Local tournaments officiated in:
  • Unrated tournaments officiated in:
  • FIDE-rated tournaments officiated in:
    • Standard: 9
    • Rapid: 6
    • Blitz: 7
  • Countries officiated in:
    • Africa: Kenya, Uganda, Mauritius, Tunisia, Tanzania
    • Asia: India

Qualifications + Experience | As a Chess Trainer

  • Years active: 8
  • FIDE seminars attended successfully: 1
  • FIDE titles held:
    • Developmental Instructor: November 2015 to December 2024
  • Students with FIDE titles: 0
  • Students with National titles: 0
  • Students with FIDE ratings: 0
  • Peak student FIDE Standard rating: N/A

Notes

  • Arbiter and trainer titles are awarded by the International Chess Federation (FIDE) after successful attendance of a seminar and passing a written examination (in the case of FA and DI) or by gathering sufficient norms through real-world experience (in the case of IA).
  • Arbiter licenses are valid for life (as long as the arbiter remains active).
  • Trainer licenses are valid for 4 years on renewal.