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: