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.