CHESS

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODTHINGS TO DO -

IMS WATU Kobese and Henry Steel are the new South African Chess Cham­pi­ons.

The South African Closed, which ended at the Foun­tains Ho­tel on Sun­day, was a suc­cess in that the play­ing con­di­tions were near per­fect for those tak­ing part, but there are many ques­tions to be an­swered.

Apart from the top four or five play­ers in the field of 12, this must have been one of the weak­est since unity in 1991. Where were three­times cham­pion Ni­cholas van der Nat, IM David Gluck­man, IMS Jo­hannes Mabusela and Hein­rich Stander? Six-times former cham­pion Charles de Vil­liers was un­aware the tour­na­ment was even tak­ing place. It would have been won­der­ful if we could have in­cluded Egyp­tian Grand­mas­ter Bassem Amin, who was in town and vis­ited the tour­na­ment. There have been prece­dents where for­eign play­ers have been in­vited.

Was money, or lack thereof, the prob­lem? When WIM Anzel Solomons stood up at Fidé CEO Geoffrey Borg’s pre­sen­ta­tion to ex­plain in de­tail the lack of fi­nan­cial sup­port for our national rep­re­sen­ta­tives, she opened a de­bate that Chess South Africa must pur­sue.

And where were the spec­ta­tor fa­cil­i­ties? For­tu­nately for the or­gan­is­ers, the school­child­ren who should have been present to wit­ness South Africa’s finest in ac­tion had not been in­vited. Even if they had ar­rived, there was no commentary to ex­plain the moves. The less said about the pa­thetic B-sec­tion, the bet­ter. Apart from one or two, none was wor­thy of qual­i­fi­ca­tion for the next SA Closed in 2013. Dr Sha­bier Bha­woo­d­ien and his son, Mo­hamed, both FMS, are Capeto­ni­ans.

The one big rev­e­la­tion was Kenny Wil­len­berg’s web­site, Chess­buddy.co.za, which kept us avid chess watch­ers abreast of events.

The two top seeds are former win­ners and will share the ti­tle, whose pedi­gree goes back to the first event, held in Cape Town in 1892. They tied on nine points from 11 games in the round-robin, but Steel took home the tro­phy as he won his in­di­vid­ual game against Kobese. Third was Daniel Cawdery of Jo­han­nes­burg, who forced Steel to come from be­hind af­ter beat­ing him in the first round. The trio now have the right to rep­re­sent South Africa in the next Olympiad.

Jac­ques Mein­tjies of Pre­to­ria se­cured his spot in the 2013 cham­pi­onship by win­ning the B sec­tion.

At the Lon­don Chess Clas­sic, the UK’S Luke Mc­shane leads world num­ber one Mag­nus Carlsen on the “black wins” tie-break af­ter the pul­sat­ing fourth round of play at Olympia. If you want to see fight­ing chess, you need look no fur­ther than this amaz­ing tour­na­ment that in­cludes all the 2 800 rated play­ers. The event was opened by tennis leg­end Boris Becker, who told Eurosport- Ya­hoo! that play­ing chess is the key to un­lock­ing a men­tal edge on the court and names Roger Fed­erer as the mas­ter.

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