Sunday, 24 December 2017

9th JZ Open

The annual Presidential chess tournament was held at the Sibusisiwe Hall in Mandeni on 22nd December 2017. This was the 9th such event. The hall comfortably accommodated almost 300 players, who pitched up from all over KZN. The A section was open to all players, many of whom entered on the day, which delayed the start of play. Another reason for the delayed start was that we could not access the hall until it had been cleared by the sniffer dogs. The B section was for teams of 10 juniors (5 boys and 5 girls) with the hosts Mandeni being the top seeds. Play started in both sections at about 11 am. We could have started play earlier in the B section, but the conditions were far too noisy, with the DJ blasting non-stop music at full volume.

Each round took about an hour to complete. Most of the games in the A section finished quite quickly, as there were lots of easy points on offer for the top players. Things were different in the B section, where the top teams started meeting each other from the second round. Pairings for round 5 in the A section were ready when we heard the presidential chopper fly over the hall, so this round went ahead as usual. The last few games from round 4 in the B section were still being finished as this happened, so we stopped play in this section, pending the imminent arrival of President Zuma.

Prizewinners with President Zuma, with Mabusela holding the cup
Mandeni were clear winners in the team event, with Ethekwini in 2nd place, and Ugu surprised us with 3rd place. I have published all the details on The open section was still undecided after 5 rounds, as there were 6 players tied with 5 wins each, namely Cyril Danisa, Wanda Khanyile, Johannes Mabusela, Bheki Mgobhozi, Tshediso Mpya and Musa Nyathi.

Whilst the president visited the junior players from the team event and played a few games against them, a round robin blitz play-off was held for the A section. This was won convincingly by the new South African champion, IM Johannes Mabusela, with 4 wins and a draw, so he took home yet another trophy!

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Novotny theme

The last few months I have been playing through games from old issues of the magazine "South African Chessplayer" and also trying to solve the positions from "Test Your Chess" and "Test Your Chess 2". These volumes are all about South African chess, and they were all edited by Leonard Reitstein. You are probably wondering, what is the Novotny theme? I first came across it in puzzle 217 from "Test Your Chess":

Korostenski vs Friedrich, Transvaal League 1978
The solution is given at the bottom of this article. Korostenski is a well known problem composer as well as a former SA champion, so he probably found the winning idea very quickly. According to an article on Wikipedia, "The Novotny theme occurs extremely rarely in actual play." Imagine my surprise to find a previously undiscovered Novotny in the pages of the "South African Chessplayer":

Naylor vs Parkin, Randburg Open 1984, after 36.Rf7
Black has just promoted his passed a-pawn, so he ought to be winning, but is threatened with tricks like 37.Rg7+ Kh8 38.Rxd7 and 39.Rf8#. The game continued with 36... Rxd8 37.Rg7+ Kh8 38.Bxd8 Qf1+? 39.Kh2 Qc1? 40.g5! Nf6? 41.Rxf6 Qa3 42.Bxc7 Qb4 43.Kg3 Be2 44.Rf4 Qa3+ 45.Kg2 and Black lost on time. How can Black escape this fate? The answer is given below.

Solution 1: 1.Bg6! so that White can mate on h7 or g7.

Solution 2: either 36... Nf6!! or 36...Qf1+ 37.Kh2 Nf6!! is a rare Novotny theme, with the Knight en prise to 4 different pieces, but it forces the swap of an attacker and wins on the spot. Some lines are 37.R3xf6 Rxf7 38.Rxf7 Rxd8 or 37.Rxc7 Bf1+ 38.Kg3 Qxe5+ or 37.Bxf6 Rxf7 etc.

Game of the year

After an extended break, my blog returns with an award for game of the year. There is little doubt that this was Nashlen Govindasamy's game against visiting GM Sahaj Grover, played in round 3 of the South African Open, on 15 July 2017. The game was broadcast live and attracted considerable interest, mainly because of some brilliant sacrifices, and the feeling that Nashlen was beating the GM. You can download the game here with brief notes by myself.

Nashlen could not have expected the GM to go pawn grabbing on move 7, which makes the Rook sacrifice (diagram above) on move 15 absolutely brilliant. He must have found 15.Rfb1!! over the board, rather than preparing it at home, as a similar sacrifice has only been played once before in a master game. By move 19 all the engines concur - Black is dead lost! I'm not sure why Nashlen spent so much time on his 19th move (nearly 34 minutes) as he dearly needed that time later in the game. On move 20 he consumed another 23 minutes, leaving him just 11 minutes plus increments to make the time control. All went well until move 27, when White missed two easy wins, then tragically blundered on move 28 with less than a minute left on the clock. This could have been the game of Nashlen's life, but alas it was not to be. It is hard to defeat a GM!

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

New tournaments

There were several new events announced in September:

1) The 2017 Ethekwini Chess League started on 3rd September and should finish by the end of October. No fewer than 25 teams entered the league, with defending champions Umhlanga Chess Club being the top seeds. Each team has to have 6 players for each match. The league is happening once a week on Sundays at the Open Air School in Glenwood, and the tournament can be followed on (tnr300689).

2) The uShaka Marine World sponsored a doubles tournament on 16th September. I don't have any photos or results from this event, but here is a copy of their flyer:

3) On 23rd September, the Zululand district is hosting their annual open tournament in Vryheid. It will be a full day of 7 rounds of rapid chess, played at the NRS Primary School in Vryheid. For more information, here is the tournament brochure, which has contact details for the organisers, Nathi Masuku and Eugene Barnard.

4) Ethekwini is holding its Heritage Day Open on 23rd and 24th September. This will be a 60/60 rated Swiss held over 6 rounds, the venue being the Open Air School in Glenwood. For more information, here is the tournament brochure, which has contact details for the organisers, Ayanda Gumede and Mbongeni Sithole.

5) The Ethekwini Youth championships are to be held from 3rd to 5th October, at the Open Air School in Glenwood. This will be a 90/90 rated Swiss held over 7 rounds, for invited players only. Here is a tournament brochure which has more information.

6) An Inter District team championship is planned for the weekend 29th September to 1st October. It will be similar to that held in June 2016 at Coastlands, with teams selected by each of the 11 districts in KZN. The event is being organised by KZN Chess Association, and I will publish team lists and match results on

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Ethekwini Youth Squad

The Ethekwini Youth selectors met recently, and have announced the squads for the annual South African Junior Team championships, to be held in January 2018 at Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre near Johannesburg. Here are the squads (names in alphabetical order). All these players are requested to attend a training workshop on Sunday 20th August, from 9 am to 1 pm (at Open Air School).

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

SA Schools Winter Games

The South African Schools Championships took place in Durban for the second year in a row. The Winter Games is an event organised annually by the Departments of Sport and Recreation, together with Basic Education. There were over 2 000 participants from all over South Africa, taking part in sports such as soccer, rugby and volleyball, as well as the more intellectual game of chess.

Play commenced at Brettenwood High School on Monday 10th July and finished after 7 rounds of hard fought chess on Thursday 13th July 2017. Here is what the school hall looked like at the start of play on Monday, and when the hall was set up for the prizegiving:

There were no under 13 chess players this time, which reduced the numbers to 252 players. Each province had a team of 28 players, split equally between the under 15 and under 18 age groups, with separate boys and girls teams. Only the top 6 scores were added together to get the team rankings. The top seeded teams in each group were Gauteng and Western Cape. These two teams dominated the field, with Western Cape eventually taking all the team gold medals, and Gauteng all the team silver medals. Here is a photo of the gold medal winning squad from Western Province:

The contest for the bronze medals was extremely close, with Mpumalanga (u15 boys), Eastern Cape (u15 girls), Free State (u18 boys) and KwaZulu-Natal (u18 girls) all taking home medals. Possibly the most under-rated team was that from Mpumalanga, who won more than their share of medals in the rating categories. Team KZN were close to the medals in all age groups and can be pleased with their overall result:

Results were published daily on so I have only given the team rankings below:
under 15 boysunder 15 girlsunder 18 boys, and under 18 boys.

Thanks to Leon de Jager for supplying all the photos, and to all the organising team who helped make this event a success.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Fun in King Cetshwayo

King Cetshwayo district organised a fun tournament over the weekend of 24th/25th June 2017. Many of the children took the opportunity to dress up in chess themed costumes:

Yasthi Naidoo had a Queen hair accessory

Keane Reddy & Paityn Reddy won the best dressed prize
Liam Naidoo, the Rook, with Paityn Reddy

Lisa Griffiths forwarded me the following message from one of the parents, Justin Moodley, who decided to play in his first tournament, together with his kids:

Somebody once said, "The measure of a man is not how  he starts but rather how well he finishes". This is what I have inculcated in the every day living of my kids. Today was just that day, when I came to realise, I was not only going to swallow those words but digest it too. My name is Justin Moodley, husband to a wonderful and inspiring wife, Jean. And not forgetting father to my wonderful, disciplined and hardworking kids, Jamie and Jurina, who are very much involved in chess. When my kids asked me to enter the King Cetshwayo tournament dated for the 24th & 25th June 2017, little did I realise that they were not joking. I won't forget their words which convinced me; "Dad you play reasonably well, if you win or lose it does not matter, just play to have fun". Guess what, I did just that, at first I was a bit nervous as I was the only wild card entry from the Dads category. So what did I learn from every encounter when I participated; At times I felt as though every bit of oxygen was slowly being sapped out of me, BUT somehow a little voice within me kept telling me never to give up. Game after game, in order to succeed, that's what our kids have to endure at the Provincial District level or the National level. I encourage all parents, be it Mums or Dads that can play chess, just join in the game and have fun. You are never too old to do the extraordinary, by sharing in your child's dream. Today for me was one of the greatest moments that will never be forgotten but cherished, NOT only did I participate for the first time in a chess tournament with both my kids, they also coached me whilst faced with their own challenges. Through it all they both succeeded in finishing 2nd in the under 12 & under 14 age category. My message to all kids; in a game of chess you cannot always expect victory but you can always plan for defeat. Best regards, Justin Moodley.

Justin Moodley, seated on the right
The final results were as follows: under 10under 12under 14under 16 and open sections.

Mandeni vs Dolphins

Siphamandla Nkosi reports from Ilembe: A fierce battle took place between the Mandeni Chess Club and the Dolphin Coast Chess Club at Salt Rock Library on Saturday 1st July. We were very happy to have Angelo Daniel, Isaiah Daniel and Trishul Jainarain from Umhlanga Chess Club join us. The club tournament played over 5 rounds of 60/60 standard was won by Mandeni Chess Club, scoring 34 points to 29 points. Here are some of the pictures taken by Mandeni Head Coach Siyabonga Gumede:

Lastly, here are the results of the High School section and the Senior Primary section.

ECA Trials results

The 2nd Ethekwini Youth Trials took place from 3rd to 5th July 2017, at Gordon Road Girls School. I fear that we will not be invited back there again, after all the littering that took place. Player numbers were up on the 1st Youth Trials held in March and it looks like Ethekwini will have some competitive teams at the SA National team championships, to be held in January 2018.

The SAJCC website indicates that Birchwood will be the venue once again.

Here are the final results for each of the age groups:
under 8 & 10,
under 12,
under 14,
under 16,
under 18 & 20.

Monday, 19 June 2017

ECA Youth Trials July

Ethekwini Chess Association has just released the entry form for its second Youth Trials of 2017. This event will be held at Gordon Road Girls School from 3rd to 5th July 2017. It will consist of a seven round Swiss for each age group, with time control of 90 minutes per player per game. For more information please contact Ayanda Gumede (076 285 0020).

Monday, 12 June 2017

SA Open 2017 brochure

The SA Open will be held in Durban this year, from the 14th to the 22nd of July 2017. The venue will be Glenwood High School. There will be three main sections, with standard time controls, as well as rapid and blitz events available for interested players. Section A is for players rated over 1500, it will be FIDE rated and 11 rounds will be played (entry fee R500). Section B is for players rated below 1500, also 11 rounds (entry fee R400). Section C will be a weekend event, with 6 rounds (entry fee R200).

For more information, please see the online brochure, and here is a link to the online entry form.

The last time the SA Open was played in Durban was in 1996, so I trust that all local players will take this opportunity to play. I played in five SA Open tournaments - in 1978, 1984, 1993, 1995 and 1996 - and have written an article about the history of the SA open in Durban for the occasion of its return to Durban.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

More results/photos

Here is a brief report on some recent tournaments.

The King Cetshwayo district championships were held over the weekend of 20/21 May 2017. The adult section was won by their head coach, Mlungisi Mbanjwa, with a perfect score of 7 out of 7. The top lady was Penny Dlamini who tied for 4th place with 4 points. The age group sections were well attended, with 160 enthusiastic youngsters participating, hoping for a place in the King Cetshwayo district youth teams. Sorry, no photos as yet. I'm also waiting for team selections to be announced. Here are the detailed results for the tournament:
adult sectionunder 18 & 20under 16under 14under 12, and under 10.

The same weekend of 20/21 May 2017 saw their neighbours in the Ilembe district hold their Youth trials at Umhlali Preparatory School. There were 4 age groups and a total of 88 players. Again, I am waiting for the teams to be announced. Here are the detailed results for the tournament:
under 16, 18 & 20under 14under 12, and under 10.

A one day tournament was held in Pietermaritzburg on 27 May 2017. The boys were put to the sword by a 15-year old girl, Dayaan Parthiephal, who won the Kings tournament with a full house 5 out of 5. Here are the detailed results and some photos sent to me by Raindree Chetty:
Prize winners, Dayaan is in the middle, Raindree is 2nd from right

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Recent results/photos

I've got several recent tournaments to report on. The first event was the annual KZN open, organised this year by Erick Takawira, president of the KZN Chess Association. The KZN open was held at Northlands Primary School from 27th to 30th April 2017.

The A section was FIDE rated and was won by Joseph Mwale. Joseph started out like a house on fire with 6 wins, clinching the title with a round to spare. The key game was against IM Mabusela in round 5, when Mabu blundered a piece against him. Joseph lost in the last round to second placed Brighton Mthunzi, who was joined on the same score by the leader of the Hyenas pack, Stephen Skosana. I have posted all the games (in PGN) onto and you can also find all the usual statistics there.

The B section was limited to players rated below 1500. Sizwe Ndlovu was a convincing winner, and I don't think he will be rated below 1500 for much longer!

On Saturday 29th, in the afternoon, a keen field of 70 players tried their luck at blitz chess (5 minutes each). Here are detailed results of the KZN blitz championship. As can be seen, Joseph Mwale scored a full house 9 out of 9. He was dead lost - on the board - in at least 3 of his games, but Joseph treats the clock like an extra piece, and won all his "lost" games on time. Second place was shared by 4 players, namely Lindokuhle Xulu, Tshediso Mpya, Wandamuzi Khanyile and Charles Pwere.

There were two rapid tournaments held in KZN on Saturday 6th May 2017. The first of these was the Durban High School rapid cup, which was won jointly by Jason Subke and Sayen Naidu. Here are the detailed results of the DHS rapid cup.

The second rapid, played in the Saint Lucia town hall, was the stronger event, with 3 KZN champions in the field. It was won by Erick Takawira, ahead of Joseph Mwale and Wanda Khanyile (Wanda held Joseph to a draw, but lost to Erick). Here are the summary results from the St Lucia event.

My thanks to Sandile Ngcongo, who organised the Saint Lucia event, for the following photos:

Players at the Saint Lucia rapid

Erick Takawira

Joseph Mwale

Sizwe Ndlovu

Erick with Sandile Ngcongo

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

KZN open entries

This year's KZN Open Championship is to be played from 27th to 30th April 2017, at Northlands Senior Primary School in Gleneagles Drive, Durban North. Durban Chess Club organised this event for 50 years from 1967 through to 2016, and you can find a full list of KZN champions on the club's website. This year the event will be organised for the first time by the KZN Chess Association. The A section will be FIDE rated and there is also a B section, for players rated below 1500.

For more information, see this invitation to the KZN open championship.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Chess and maths

It is well known that world champions Emmanuel Lasker and Max Euwe were also mathematicians, but I was quite surprised to realise that I have played chess against five professors of mathematics, namely Peter Dankelmann, John van den Berg and his father Johan, Michael Henning and Max Euwe. I don't believe I have played any other professors! I have also played against a number of actuaries, who are also very good at maths. Is there a connection between chess and maths? Both are based on problem solving. Chess players make extensive use of logic and pattern recognition skills, as do mathematicians. I think this is the reason that playing chess appeals to many mathematicians.

There is a school of thought that says that teaching chess to children is a good thing, as it also teaches them skills that can be used in other fields, such as mathematics.

In Ms Msomi's classroom at Kati Primary, Mandlazini Village, near Richards Bay
"Master Moves Kids" provides chess lessons that are linked into the school syllabus. It is supported by donations from many of South Africa's biggest companies. In the picture above, the pupils are learning about files by placing coloured stickers on a chess board. They are also learning about chess notation, number sizes, bar charts and co-ordinates at the same time!

There are lots of possibilities to learn whilst also having fun with chess. Take for example the piece values. When we exchange pieces, you have to add up how much each piece is worth and then say which is greater. Do we win or lose if we trade two minor pieces for a Rook? One final example, how do you move a Rook from a1, so that it touches every square on the board only once? My immediate reaction was the lawn mower method, but there is another, more elegant, solution. Think about it!

SA Junior champions

The 2017 SA Junior Closed chess championships ended recently, with 14 national age group champions being crowned at the closing ceremony on 11th April. My thanks go to Chess SA for inviting me to be an arbiter at this prestigious event, held at the Kopanong Conference Centre in Benoni from the 5th to 11th April. There were 280 players and a team of 8 arbiters, led by Michael Bornheim, to look after them. We had very few issues and I think the event ran smoothly, apart from a few glitches with the DGT boards. These were the latest wifi DGT boards and this was their first outing. One problem was that so many people were using the Kopanong wifi.

Three of the 14 national champions were from KZN! We won two gold medals in the open sections, Kaedan Govender won the under 8 open title, and Naseem Essa was the under 14 open champion. We had hoped for a similar result in the girls sections. I was surprised that Arti Datharam, who received a trophy as South African under 10 player of the year for 2016, finished out of the medals in the under 12 girls. Instead it was her little sister, Archana Datharam, who won the third gold medal! Archana is now the SA under 10 girls champion. Lastly, Charlotte Millard won a bronze medal for her 3rd place in the under 12 girls. Congratulations to all of our medal winners!
Archana Datharam stayed on board 1 for the whole tournament,
scoring 10 points from her 11 games

Kaedan Govender, seen here with his proud parents, did even
better, drawing once and winning all his other games

Naseem Essa, back on board 1 after an early upset, scored 8.5 points
from his 11 games, and won the gold medal in a playoff match
The above photos are just some of the many that Gys du Toit published on Facebook. To see more of his wonderful photos, go to

The detailed results and most of the games can be found at the website.

Pietermaritzburg Kings

The second tournament of the year in Pietermaritzburg takes place at Alexandra High School on Saturday 27th May. Details can be found in the entry form below:

You can contact the organiser, Raindree Chetty, by email at or phone her on 084 625 9610 for more details.

Here are the results of the first tournament, the Pawns tournament, which was held on Saturday 25th February 2017.

St Lucia Chess Open

The St Lucia Chess Open will take place in Saint Lucia Town Hall on Saturday 6th May 2017. This event is a first for the Umkhanyakude district! It will consist of 7 rounds of rapid chess. Further details of the tournament can be found in the invitation and entry form. The prize money is very tempting.

Sandile Xulu, past president of KZN Chess Association, will be helping the chief organiser, whose name is Sandile Ngcongo. His email address is or you can phone him on 071 205 2271. This is going to be a big event for Umkhanyakude and all KZNCA members are invited to take part and support in any way possible.

King Cetshwayo 3rd anniversary

The King Cetshwayo district chess association celebrated the third anniversary of its formation over the weekend of 1st/2nd April this year. It was the start of the school holidays, and a new record of 192 players took part in the celebrations! As a large number of players only entered on the morning of the 1st, the organisers had to frantically find another twenty tables and chess sets to squeeze into the hall of Richards Bay High School.

The first day proceeded smoothly for the top seeds, with the only major upset being the draw between Nikash Baboolal (1165) and Samkele Mzimela (500) in the first round of the under 16 section. Samkele also scored upsets in rounds 3, 4 and 5. He went on to finish 3rd in the under 16 section and is clearly a player for the selectors to watch.

On both days there were lucky draws for prizes and everybody got to sample the birthday cake on day 2. Here is a photo of the participants with the birthday cake (click on the photo to enlarge):

The top female players in each section were recognised at the prize giving. See the photo below, from left Luyanda Biyela (under 18 - 4th), Jurina Moodley (under 12 - tied for 1st place on 6 out of 7!), Ntando Dlamini (best adult), Zhime Ntombela (under 16 - 12th), Lisa Griffiths (chairperson), Kiara Pillay (under 14 - 7th), Sibongakonke Singa (under 20 - 5th).

Lastly, here is a photo of Mongezi Shoba, from Nkandla, who finished 2nd in the under 16 category:

In conclusion, here are the detailed results for each of the four sections:
under 10 & 12 group,
under 14 age group,
under 16 age group,
under 18, 20 & adults.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Ethekwini Open report

The 2017 Ethekwini Open was the biggest event of this year's chess calendar in Durban, with a very strong FIDE section and a well attended open section. It took place over 4 days, from 18th to 21st March 2017, with just 2 rounds being played per day. Special guests were GM Sipke Ernst from the Netherlands and IA Chanda Nsakanya from Zambia.

The open section attracted 125 entries and was intended for players rated below 1900. It was played at 90 minutes per player for the game. The top two seeds were Jason Subke (1862) and Clive Mthunzi (1831) and they both reached 4 out of 4 with little trouble. However, Jason could only draw with Mpho Mshope in round 5, so he was half a point behind when the top two duly met in round 6. A tough positional game saw Jason a pawn down in a Rook and pawn ending as time ran short -
Subke vs Mthunzi, Black to move
and this is how the game ended: 1...Re4+ 2.Kd3 Re1 3.Rxd5! (after a long think, he had to see his 6th move here, if 3.Kd2 Re7 4.Rxd5 Kg8 is slightly better for Black) 3...Rd1+ 4.Ke4 Rxd5 5.Kxd5 Kf6 6.h6! (the only move) and the players agreed a draw. They both won in the 7th round, so the final placings were 1st Clive Mthunzi on 6.5, with a 3-way tie for 2nd place between Jason Subke, Ayanda Gumede and Mpho Mashope on 6 points from 7 games.
Clive Mthunzi with Sayen Naidu
Jason Subke with Sayen Naidu

Prizes for the open section were presented by Sayen Naidu, a former winner of the tournament in 2008. Here are the full results of the open section.

The FIDE section was very interesting, with 7 titled players competing. Obviously grandmaster Sipke Ernst was the favourite to win, but who would finish second, and who could take a draw from him? The standard FIDE time control of 90 minutes plus 30 seconds increment was used, but Sipke played very fast and had all his opponents under pressure. I was very impressed by his willingness to discuss his games and explain his moves afterwards.

All of the games in the FIDE section - 97 games (PGN) - were captured by me, so you can replay the moves at your leisure. I will just highlight some of the moments from Sipke's games:
Johannes Mabusela played 8.b4 here vs Sipke Ernst
"Where did I go wrong?" asked a baffled Mabu. Apparently 8.b4 was incorrect for 2 reasons, the first is that White has nowhere to castle, as the Q-side has big holes and the K-side lacks defenders, the second reason is that the c4 square becomes weak. The game is very instructive.

The closest anybody came to a draw against him was in round 6. It looked like Corno was better for much of the game, and this was the critical moment when the endgame was lost:
Corno Klaver vs Sipke Ernst, White to play
White could sit tight here, with a probable draw, but saw a little combination: 43.c5 Rxc5 44.Rxc5 dxc5 45.Bxf7, which was immediately refuted by 45...Kxf7 46.Kxe5 c4!. The GM knew that the pawn ending was a win for him, as he recognised the 3-2 pattern on the Q-side. Lesser mortals have to calculate the variations!

The most brilliant game of the tournament was unquestionably Sipke's win against Joseph. Here is the game with some variations added with the help of my favourite chess engine!
The start of round 5, Sipke Ernst vs Joseph Mwale
Here are the final results of the FIDE section and some photos supplied by the chief organiser, Erick Takawira, who did a lot of hard work behind the scenes.

Adrian Chappell 3rd place with 5/7 was a surprise

WIM Jesse February with WCM Karmishta Moodley

GM Sipke Ernst with IA Chanda Nsakanya

The Ethekwini Open floating trophy

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

1st Ethekwini Youth Trials

Ethekwini Chess Association held its 1st Youth Trials for 2017 over the weekend of 25th/26th March 2017. A total of 125 players took part in 5 sections divided by age. Sadly, this will be the last event to be hosted by the Open Air School, who have been very supportive of chess in Ethekwini over the past year. The venue for the 2nd Youth Trials on 25th/26th May 2017 has not yet been announced.

Here are the detailed results for each of the 5 different age groups:
under 8 & 10,
under 12,
under 14,
under 16,
under 18 & 20.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Grandmaster visit

Just a few days to go before Grandmaster Ernst arrives! He will be the special guest at this years Ethekwini Open, to be held at the Open Air School from the 18th to 21st March 2017. There will be a FIDE rated section as well as a Chess SA rated section. For further information, please see the following invitation to the Ethekwini open or give Erick Takawira (073 434 8634) a call.

King Cetshwayo Open

The King Cetshwayo Open was held over the weekend of 25th and 26th February in Richards Bay. A total of 158 players competed in 4 sections over 7 rounds. Here are the detailed results:
under 10 & under 12,
under 14 only,
under 16 only,
under 18, 20 & adult,
and some photos from the prizegiving:
Kirthan Naidoo was 1st under 10, his mother Maggie is on the right 
Top under 12 players, Keane Reddy, Mvuselelo Zulu and Arav Surujhlal

Nonthandazo Mkhize was 3rd in the adult section

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

JR Mthembu Memorial

The first JR Mthembu memorial took place over 2 days, on 18th and 19th February 2017, at the Open Air school in Durban. JR was well known in Durban as a teacher, arbiter and organiser of chess activities. I never knew his first name as everybody just called him JR! He taught chess at the Gordon Road girls school for many years. Some of JR's best known pupils were Tasnim Amra, Cheshni Jeena and Kriti Lalla, who all became female South African champions in their age groups.

The tournament was a close contest, with Henry Oliver leading all the way, until he took draws against Sayen Naidu and Joseph Mwale in the last 2 rounds. Henry came within a whisker of defeating top seed Joseph Mwale in the last round, when he had a completely winning Rook and pawn ending. With 6 seconds left on the clock, he claimed G4 and Joseph had little choice but to accept the draw offer. These two players were joined by unrated Joseph Ambali on 5 points out of 6.

The B section was won by Thacian Reddy, who defeated second placed Archana Datharam in a crucial round 5 encounter.

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

Some interesting endgame positions that caught my eye were:

from round 2, with White to move
White tried 1.Rg3, hoping for 1...Rxg3+ 2.Kxg3 with a drawn pawn ending, and resigned when Black played 1...Kf4. Possibly 1.Kh2 was a better try, although 1...Rb3 looks winning. Why did you resign, asked the spectators? After 1.Rg3 Kf4 2.Rxf3+ Kxf3 3.b5 Black said he intended 3...e3 4.bxa6 e2 5.a7 e1=Q with mate on g3 or h1, and nearly fell off his chair when he was told that 6.a8=Q is check, so White wins! On reflection, simply 3...g4+ forces 4.Kh4 when it is Black who queens with check and wins the game. The next position was even more instructive:

from round 4, with White to move
This came from one of the father-son pairings that my pairings software liked. The game ended with 1.Ra8 a3, draw offered and agreed. Again the kibitzers wanted to know, doesn't Black win after 2.Rxa3 Kb2 3.Re3 c1=Q 4.Rxe4 etc. Indeed, but a little home analysis convinced me that there was a draw by either 2.Ra7! or even 2.Ra6. The point is that 2.Ra7 a2 3.Rxa2 Kb1 4.Rxc2 Kxc2 5.Ke3 is drawn. Even more interesting is that 2.Ra5 fails to draw, because the King can zigzag backwards by 2...Kb2 3.Rb5+ Kc3 4.Rc5+ Kb3 5.Rb5+ Kc4 and one of the pawns will queen.