Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Mandela 67 mins chess - report by Sandile Xulu

The inaugural MANDELA 67MIN CHESS was held over two days on 19th to 20th July 2014 at Berea Primary School in Durban SA. From as young as 5 years old to more senior citizens, from amateurs to International Masters, from Jo'burg to East London, from Malawi to Zimbabwe, black and white all descended down to South Africa’s warmest place, Ethekwini – all to play in the very first chess tournament named ‘MANDELA 67MIN CHESS’. No one wanted to miss out on this historic chess tournament, the first one ever to be played in honour of one man who was larger than life, gone but certainly not forgotten, a man who dedicated his life to the struggle of a better life for all – Dr Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.
Thabiso Junior Ramatsepiso (12yrs) from JHB shakes hands with Lance Leslie Smith (11yrs) DBN
What is unique and special about this tournament is the fact that 67 minutes is actually being set on the chess clock – What this means is that each player will emulate Mandela’s ‘long walk to freedom’ on the chess board by taking only 67min to conquer their opponent. “Chess is life” - just like life, chess has got its ups and downs, but if you play well you will emerge victorious. In chess the playing field is leveled, chess is indeed a great equalizer.
Honour and pride, all to play for
The tournament ‘MANDELA 67MIN CHESS’ will be played every year around the month of July. The idea is to align this tournament with Madiba’s month of birth – July, as people around the world celebrate ‘Mandela Day’ on 18 July by giving of their time to do something for others in order to make the world a better place for all – KZN CHESS ASSOCIATION will use this chess initiative to fundraise for the disadvantaged community schools and for special projects aimed at promoting women and physically challenged chess. MANDELA 67MIN CHESS is aimed at promoting unity, positive change and advancing the ideals of a nation living together in harmony while at the same time using the opportunity to further popularize chess in South Africa.
Happy faces after a struggle of 67 minutes
Youngsters can never complain when paired with an older opponent, age has got no advantage whatsoever when it comes to chess. The Mandela 67MIN CHESS is a rated tournament and open to all regardless of ones rating or age, however, age group prizes are awarded. The overall winner walks away with a gold medal, a big trophy and some of course a handsome cheque! 
Age is just a number – Thabiso Junior Ramatseliso 12yrs (right) mesmerized one of the veteran chess players Zithulele Petros Ntombela (left) with his solid moves, after a long walk - the young Thabiso walked away with a win!
We read that former President Nelson Mandela was a chess player and that he used to play a lot of chess while he was jailed in Robben Island. In fact, he even ordered a chess book. Many political prisoners also played chess - President Jacob Zuma who served his 10 years in Robben Island is amongst those who became passionate about the game of chess. President Zuma’s continued support in promoting chess has contributed in popularizing chess especially in SA’s townships and rural areas.
Joseph Mwale (left) Malawi international now residing in KZN versus IM Rodwell Makoto (right) Zimbabwe international now residing in Jo'burg. Joseph edged Rodwell on tiebreak to claim the 1st MANDELA 67MIN CHESS trophy as the two ended with a score of 6.5/7
Those who missed out on this year’s tournament will have to wait another 12 months before they can make their names in the history book. The organizers will have a headache finding a bigger venue as numbers are expected to increase in next year’s tournament. Sponsors are encouraged to come on board and support this initiative led by KZN CHESS ASSOCIATION.
Everybody wanted a MANDELA 67MIN CHESS T-shirt
The convener of Commonwealth Chess Championships 2013 from Nelson Mandela Bay – Dr Brian van Zyl - provided much needed support, his generous sponsorship made it possible for KZN CHESS ASSOCIATION to launch this tournament.
Sandile Xulu – President of KZN Chess Association (left), Mrs Williams – Principal of Berea Primary School (right)

Many thanks to all the sponsors, partners and individuals who joined hands with KZN CHESS ASSOCIATION for making the inaugural MANDELA 67MIN CHESS such a great success.
Sponsors and partners: Berea Primary School, Dr Brian van Zyl, Mr Rajiv Jaynath – Bhekaphambili Geo-Contractors, Tsogo Sun – Garden Court, Vellan Moodley - ‘In Your Dreams’, Erick Takawira Chess initiative
Article by – Sandile Xulu