Saturday, 31 December 2016

Seasons greetings

Penny Dlamini, Lisa Griffiths and Nishi Baboolal
King Cetshwayo players (at fun tournament in December)
King Cetshwayo (formerly Uthungulu) Chess Association hosted its last tournament for 2016 on the 4th of December.  The lovely ladies on the committee persuaded me to wear a silly hat for the group photo and want to thank the King Cetshwayo community, including parents, schools and players, for their support and dedication throughout 2016.

Wishing everybody a blessed Festive Season and a Happy New Year!

SAJCC 2016

The annual chess extravaganza known as the SAJCC took place this year from the 15th to the 23rd of December, at Birchwood Conference Centre in Boksburg. If I'm not mistaken, 260 teams took part, which is apparently a new record, with close to 2,300 participants ranging from the under 8's to the under 20's. The numbers were so large that two playing halls had to be used, with about 800 players aged 16 to 20 in OR Tambo hall and 1,500 youngsters in the larger Terminal hall. The arbiting team worked from early on the 15th until 1 am on the morning of the 16th so that everything was ready for the opening ceremony a few hours later.

Chess SA president Eldo Smart opens the 2016 SAJCC in Terminal hall
Here is a summary of all the team results (docx format, 13 pages long) which was prepared by the arbiting team. It can be seen that gold medals in the Championship (A section) went to:

under 08 Western Province (Ethekwini 3rd),
under 10 Tshwane (Ethekwini 5th),
under 12 Western Province (Ethekwini 3rd),
under 14 Western Province (Ethekwini 2nd),
under 16 Ethekwini (WP 2nd, Joburg Metro 3rd, Tshwane 4th)
under 18 Western Province (Ethekwini 4th),
under 20 Tshwane (Ethekwini 5th).

The gold to Ethekwini in the under 16 division was the only blot on the Western Province and Tshwane clean sweep! This was an incredibly close division - 3 of the top 4 teams were equal on match points (they won 5 matches each) and, if this section had been decided on match points, then Johannesburg Metro would have been the winners, as they won all their matches. It all goes to show how important it is to have strength in depth, when game points are the key number.

Our gold medal team, from left: Anele Danisa, Mayilan Chetty, Kiashen Maharaj, Cayden Pather,
 Dayaan Parthiephal, Sachin Reddy, Zahra Kara, Cailin Chetty, Joseph Mwale (coach),
Chad Millard, Ayanda Gumede (manager), absent - Ananta Reddy.
The team event was followed by the Wild Card tournaments, for those players who had not already qualified for the Junior Closed in 2017. Notable KZN successes were:

under 12 1st Mayaskar Nair
under 14 2nd Abhay Prithipal
under 16 =3rd/14th Chad Millard, Lance Leslie-Smith, Cayden Pather
under 18 4th Shivar Gopaulsingh
under 20 1st Jivorn Reddy, 2nd Truwen Reddy

An Inter Regional team championship was held at the same time as the Wild Card event. It was won quite convincingly by the "A-team" from Tshwane. Sadly the Ethekwini team failed to perform, after being seeded 4th they ended up in a disappointing 15th place. I was an arbiter for this event and have now captured all 308 games (PGN) - there are some great games.

Chess on TV

Chess was recently featured in an SABC TV news broadcast - here is a YouTube video of the broadcast. The occasion was the 8th JZ Chess Open, which was held this year in Mandeni, on the 20th December 2016. The event was organised by the Jacob Zuma Foundation. Thanks to Sandile Xulu, who provided this link. Sorry, no results were supplied to me.

Ethekwini League

The Ethekwini League took place in the last quarter of the year and was divided into two sections. The top 8 teams played a round robin in the A section, which was a success for the top seeds, Umhlanga Chess Club (rated 1878 on average), who won 6 and drew 1 of their matches. In second place was Durban Chess Club (1701 average), who beat the second seeds from Glenwood Chess Club (1876 average) in round 3, by the smallest of margins. Glenwood took 3rd and 4th places in the A section.

Teams consisted of 6 players and the board prizes were won by Joseph Mwale (Umhlanga), Cailin Chetty (Durban), Henry Oliver (Durban), Desmond Rooplal (Durban), Sayen Naidu (Glenwood) and Sizwe Ndlovu (Beier). I was playing board 1 for Durban and came within an inch of the gold medal, losing on time when a piece up against Joseph Mwale.

Umhlanga Chess Club went on to represent Ethekwini at the SA Club Championships team event, held near Bloemfontein in early December. They had a disastrous start, defaulting their first round match because of a car accident, but recovered well to find themselves playing the eventual winners, Chess Excellence A, in the last round. They beat Chess Excellence over the board, but then found themselves defaulted on 3 boards, because they were in the wrong board order!!

The B section of the League was played as a Team Swiss event. Initially 13 teams entered, which meant there had to be a bye. Surprisingly, this was given to the second seeds in the first round! The B section was marred by an excessive number of defaults, particularly by the student teams - either they were involved in the "fees must fall" protest or they were writing exams. In the end, Glenwood Chess Club C team were convincing winners, followed by Durban Chess Club B team.

Thanks go to the Open Air School for use of their hall as the playing venue, and to Divesh Sookdeo who was the arbiter. Here are the A section results and the B section results. Further details can be found on the chess-results website.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Pawn Sacrifice

I watched the movie "Pawn Sacrifice" on DSTV this morning. This movie chronicles the life of Robert James (Bobby) Fischer, up to the point where the American chess genius became world chess champion in 1972. The blurb says it is "based on a true story" but the number of glaring historical errors really annoyed me. I know a lot of the incidents really did happen - just not when or where they were depicted in the movie!

Much of the plot centres around Bobby's rivalry with Russian champion Boris Spassky. One large chunk of the movie was set in Santa Monica, California, where the Piatorgorsky Cup took place in 1966. Boris is described as "world champion" in the movie, but we all know that Boris didn't become world champion until 1969. Another example of an historical boo-boo was the supposed first round incident, where Bobby beat a strong Russian master, after arriving extremely late at the board. That never happened - he actually played against fellow American, Sammy Reshevsky, and drew his first game. Almost a year later, Bobby famously arrived 50 minutes late for his game against the same Reshevsky, then proceeded to beat him. That was at the Sousse Interzonal of 1967, so they got the date wrong, the country wrong, the opponent wrong, and even his nationality wrong. Does artistic licence have no limits?

Having said all that, Tobey McGuire did a good job of portraying Bobby Fischer, and the movie is well worth watching if you are a chess addict. There is little doubt that Fischer was psychologically troubled from early childhood, and that his behaviour got worse over time, but was he really as crazy as portrayed in this movie? Fischer did a lot to revitalise interest in chess in the West. The amount of coverage of the 1972 match was absolutely staggering. I remember seeing chess on the front page of our daily newspaper for the first time, and membership of chess clubs rocketed in the early 1970's because of the Fischer effect. RIP, Bobby Fischer.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

SALGA Amajuba

Mashumi Nhlapo reports from Newcastle: Amajuba Chess held a district selection tournament for SALGA games at Arbor Park Recreation Centre on Saturday 22nd October 2016. There was a large turnout of over 150 players from all over Amajuba District. The tournament was played over 5 rounds and the Tournament Director was Mr Siphamandla Nkosi sent by KZN Chess Association.

Pictures of the age group winners follow:

Makhubu Simphiwe (u14 girls)
Khuzwayo Kwanele (u14 boys)
Mthembu Anele (u20 girls)
Methula Kwanda (u20 boys)

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Queen of Katwe

I recently attended a special screening of the movie "Queen of Katwe" together with a group of young chess enthusiasts from the INK (Inanda, Ntuzuma, Kwa-Mashu) areas. This screening was sponsored by Durban Metro Chess Academy, an organisation that promotes chess in the townships. DMCA was set up many years ago by Bongani Mgaga, a leading chess player in the Ethekwini region. Thanks must also go to Desmond Rooplal, chairman of the Durban Chess Club, who raised most of the funds for the movie tickets for the children.

The Disney movie is based upon the true story of Phiona Mutesi, a young female chess player from the Katwe slums of Uganda. The movie trailer on YouTube and this movie review from the Cape Times will give you a good idea of what to expect from the movie.

You can't get much worse off than being in the slums of Katwe, so it is a remarkable story. Phiona starts off playing chess to get a free mug of porridge, then finds that she is actually very good at the game. After several months her coach, Robert Katende, scrapes together the entry fees and she wins her first schools tournament, at a very posh school in Kampala. The contrast between the school and the slum is stark. I was a little puzzled that Phiona had a pen and notation sheet at her board, as she was illiterate at that time. Some time later, having been taught to read by Katende's wife, she starts reading Kasparov's "Test of Time" by the light of a paraffin lamp.

Quite how Phiona goes on to represent Uganda at a youth tournament in Sudan, and subsequently at the FIDE World Chess Olympiad in Russia, is never really explained. As many chess parents can tell you, competing overseas is extremely expensive, so where did the money come from? Was there a private donor involved, or did the Ugandan government provide funding? Also not mentioned in the film is that Phiona met her chess hero, Garry Kasparov, at a 2013 seminar in New York.

cover of "Queen of Katwe", published in 2013
As a chess player, I like to check that any chess boards are set up correctly (they were) and that any positions shown are realistic. This movie passed with flying colours, with a smothered mate, a pawn promotion combination and several moves of a Queens Gambit recognisable. Even the parts of the game between Phiona and her Canadian opponent at the Chess Olympiad matched the positions in my chess database. Well done to Robert Katende, who was the chess consultant on this movie.

The movie was well received by the children, who laughed at some of the situations Phiona found herself in. Perhaps they had been in or had seen similar situations in the townships of Ethekwini? Hopefully this movie will inspire them in their future.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

SAPS championships

SAPS Chess Association held their annual championships from 6th to 14th October 2016, at Misty River, just south of Johannesburg. I was present as the arbiter and travelled to and from the venue with the KZN team. There were 10 teams of 10 players (6 male and 4 female), one from every province, plus a team from Head Office, so that a 9-round team round-robin could be played.

Marc Petersen plays Hlayisani Mthombeni in Western Cape vs Gauteng,
in the background is Lesiba Phahlane, gold medallist on board 1
It soon became evident that Gauteng (the defending champions) were the team to beat. Head Office came close to drawing their match, as did Western Cape, but in the end Gauteng emerged victorious in all of their matches. In second place was Eastern Cape, who relied on their ladies to win most of their matches!

Eastern Cape won the silver medals with Brian Salters on board 1, and
Rico Schutte on board 2, also seen is Cornelius Mojapelo (Limpopo)
KZN was the team with the lowest average rating, and were only able to draw one of their matches. Nevertheless, the team remained in good spirits, and won the prize for best team spirit. The match between KZN and Northern Cape was a real nail biting encounter, as the scores were level after 9 games had been completed, with just board 1 to decide the match. Both sides missed chances for a win and this exciting game is given below:

Before the team event, there was a 9-round individual championships, and a 7-round blitz championships, so a lot of chess was packed into the available days!

Leandra Ryneveldt won the prize for the biggest upset,
here she is playing Leonardina Mogongwa from Gauteng,
next to her is Devina Le Roux who scored 9/9 for her team

Here are the results files for each of the events:

Individual championships
all rounds detailed results
tiebreaks (all players)
tiebreaks (female only)

Blitz championships
all rounds blitz results

Team championships
summary by team
composition of team results
tiebreaks for board prizes

Lastly, here are the games that were entered for the best game prize, together with some brief annotations by myself.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Heritage Day open

A one day rapid tournament was held on 24th September in celebration of Heritage Day. The field in the A section was small, but that meant there were lots of upsets and no easy games! Joseph Mwale was a convincing winner, with 5 points from his 6 games, followed by Wanda Khanyile and Cyril Danisa. Sachen Pather scored the most upsets. Here is a diagram from his 5th round game against Wanda, where Sachen blundered a Rook in the opening, but then his opponent relaxed too soon:

Wanda Khanyile (to move) vs Sachen Pather
In this position, White is up 2 pieces, but his King is obviously in great danger. Outside the hall, Joseph opined that Black has a winning attack, but both Lindo and myself thought that White could safely return some of his treasure.

Wanda thought for several minutes, then played 1.Be2, and the game continued 1...Nxc2+ 2.Nxc2 Qa5+! 3.Kf1 Nd2+ 4.Ke1 Ne4+ 5.Kf1 Nd2+ 6.Ke1 Ne4+ and the players agreed a draw. No sooner had they done so, when the kibitzers pointed out the Queen sacrifice 4...Nf3+ 5.Kf1 Qe1+ leads to smothered mate!

The position is well worth analysing. Joseph punted 1.Qg7 as the only defence, but my computer busts his suggestion with the beautiful Queen sacrifice 1...Qxc2!! since 2.Nxc2 Nxc2+ 3.Ke2 Rd2+ 4.Kf3 Rxf2 is mate. It seems that 1.Rc1 was best, but still better for Black!

Here are the results of section A and results of section B.

LSEN tournament

The Open Air School in Durban recently hosted an LSEN (Learners with Special Educational Needs) chess tournament. The event was sponsored by the KZN Chess Academy and by Dr Abdul Ballim. Below is a cutting from our local newspaper, the Berea Mail:

The tournament was won by Dylan Thaver, who will lead an LSEN team from the eThekwini region to the National youth team chess championships being held in December. This is believed to be the first time that an LSEN team will play in the National team championships.

Dylan Thaver being congratulated by Mbongeni Sithole

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Ethekwini Open results

We must congratulate IM Johannes Mabusela on another success in KZN. This time he won the Ethekwini Open, held over the weekend of 3rd/4th September 2016.

Mabusela is congratulated by Mbongeni Sithole
Mabusela started off with a draw in round 1! Mlungisi Mbanjwa from Richards Bay proved a tough nut to crack, so Mabusela offered a draw with time running short. Thereafter, he followed up with 5 wins in a row. The only time that he was perhaps in trouble was in his 5th round game against 2nd seed Joseph Mwale. Here is the score of his 1st round game:

Thanks to Khetha Mngadi for posting this game and photo on Facebook.

Here are the results of section A and the results of section B.

Monday, 29 August 2016

African Youth congrats

The 2016 African Youth championships took place from 22nd to 28th August 2016 in Port Elizabeth. Congratulations to the KZN medal winners at the tournament!

Yanti Nunnan    - 1st girls under 8
Aarti Datharam - 1st girls under 10

                                     Charlotte Millard
                                     - 3rd girls under 10

Here is a link to the full results of the under 10 girls section and from there you can browse to the other age group results.

Ethekwini Open entry

The Ethekwini Chess Association will be holding the annual Ethekwini Open on the weekend of 3rd/4th September 2016 at the Open Air School in Durban. Further details are in the entry form.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Uthungulu Youth champs

The annual Uthungulu Youth championships were held on 20th and 21st August 2016 at Hoerskool Richardsbaai. Only the best players, who had already been selected for the team for the SA Junior Nationals, were invited to play. The tournament was then used to decide on their board order.

Here is a selection of photos, courtesy of Lisa Griffiths and her trusty cellphone:

Under 10: 1st Arav Surujhlal, 2nd Ayanda Shangase, 3rd Wian Diedericks
Under 12 players: Philidile Madela vs Nomphilo Ntuli
Hannah Gounden, board 1 of the u12 B team, plays Olwethu Chili
Under 14: Liam Moonsamy (1st) vs Mongezi Shoba (2nd)
Under 16: 2nd Sandile Mdunge, 1st Mthobisi Sibiya, 3rd Manelisa Sithole 
Uthungulu under 18 team
I watched the end of an interesting game in round 5 between Sandiso Damone and Siyanda Khumalo. This was the position with each player having about 10 minutes left on his clock:

Sandiso Damone (to move) vs Siyanda Khumalo
Black threatens mate in 2 so 1.Qd6+ Kb7 is forced, and now Sandiso chose 2.Qd5+ instead of  2.Qd2 which looked promising. Since Black cannot play 2.Qd2 Re1+ 3.Kf2 R7e2+ 4.Qxe2 etc he would have to try and double his Rooks on the 7th rank with 2.Qd2 Re2 3.Qd5+ Kb8 4.Qxc4 Rb2! and it looks like a draw after 5... Ree2 follows. After 2.Qd5+ Ka6 3.Qa8+ Kb5 4.Qd5+ Siyanda should have taken the draw with 4... Ka6 5.Qa8+ Kb5 etc, but instead he chose to escape the checks with 4... Ka4? Do you see the refutation? Sandiso quickly sacrificed his Queen with 5.Qxe4! and the game ended with 5... Rxe4 6.b7 Re8 7.a6 Kb3 8.a7 Kxc3 9.b8=Q Rxb8 10.axb8=Q and White won.

Detailed results for each age group section were as follows:
under 10,
under 12,
under 14,
under 16,
under 18 & 20.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

ECA trials 2 results

The second Ethekwini Youth Trials took place at the Open Air School from 6th to 8th August 2016. Here are the final results after 7 rounds for each section:

under 18 & 20 combined,
under 16 age group,
under 14 age group,
under 12 age group,
under 8 & 10 combined.

The selectors met on 9th August to agree on the squads for this years National team championship. The Ethekwini squad will consist of 2 under 8 teams, 1 under 10 team, 1 under 12 team, 2 under 14 teams, 2 under 16 teams, 2 under 18 teams, 1 under 20 team and 1 girls only team.

I append the names of those in the squad as per the Ethekwini Chess Association website, together with a copy of the ECA selection policy.

Friday, 5 August 2016

Uthungulu Fun

On 30th and 31st July Uthungulu held a 7 round fun tournament. There was an open section and a junior schools section. Part of the fun involved the leaders in the junior section wearing a crown! There were also some lucky draw prizes sponsored by South32 and the Uthungulu Municipality. Here are some pictures from the weekend:

Hoping to get a prize from the lucky draw
Youngest player Kirthan Naidoo was 2nd in under 10
Wearing the crowns - Gabriel Gounden vs Bryce Vorster
Wearing the crowns - Tlhoni Tsotetsi vs Simphiwe Majozi
Table 29 - Uvash Harrilall vs Arya Singh
These were the final results of the open section and of the junior section of the fun and money tournament.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

2nd Ethekwini trials

These are scheduled to take place from the 6th to 8th August 2016. There will be 7 rounds played at 90 minutes per player per game. Further details are contained in the entry form.

Friday, 15 July 2016

SA Schools Winter Games

Chess was one of the 9 sporting codes that took part in the "South African Schools National Winter Games Championships 2016" in Durban in July 2016. The other sporting codes were football, hockey, jukskei, kho-kho, netball, rugby, tennis and volleyball.

Chess was played from the 10th to 14th July at Glenwood High School. There were 9 provincial teams of 7 players in each of 6 age group sections i.e. a total of 378 chess players for all these groups. There were even larger numbers in other sporting codes. I have seen reports of 7 500 competitors, so this was a massive sporting event!

I thought that Ronald King did a great job as chief arbiter. The organising committee asked that the event be played as a combined team and individual event. For the first 5 rounds, the tournament was paired as a normal Swiss. Then for the last 4 rounds, players were not allowed to play against their team mates, as the organisers wanted to establish which province had the best team. They also wanted to know who were the best individual players. I didn't know that Swiss Manager could do this, but Ronald somehow managed the task after spending many hours on his computer!

For those interested in the results, here is a link to the final results of the under 13 boys section. From there you can browse to all the other age group results.

I was present at the chess as a talent scout, for the under 13 boys and girls. Originally there were supposed to have been 2 talent scouts, and it would have been a lot easier to pick 3 boys and 3 girls, rather than 5 of each, on my own. I was given until Wednesday afternoon to finalise my reports, which meant that I only had games from the first 6 rounds to consider. Talent identification is as much about future potential as it is about present ability, so I must now wait 3 years to see if I was any good at talent spotting!

The following tactical episode deserves its own diagram:

Fihla vs Mazibuko, round 3, under 13 boys
In this position Black could try 27... Rc8 28.Re1 Qc2 keeping everything under control, instead he played the tempting 27... Nc3 forking Queen and Rook. Imagine his shock when White replied with 28.Rxd6! Both major piece are untouchable because of the back row mate, so play continued 28... Ra8 29.Qc1 and now the incredible 29... Qxe3!! really impressed me. Since 30.Qxe3 Ra1+ results in mate, the game went 30.fxe3 Ne2+ 31.Kf2 Nxc1 and Black has regained the piece, as well as keeping his extra pawn. Unfortunately he blundered on move 40 and eventually lost the game.

PS. Here is my annotated games file (PGN, 87 games) from rounds 1 to 6 of the under 13 boys and girls sections, which has the games that were considered in talent identification.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

KZN District photos

Thanks to Sifiso Xulu, here is a selection of 30 photos from the KZN District team championships held at Coastlands Conference Centre in Durban: