KIRSAN Ilyumzhinov, president of the World Chess Federation (Fidé), opened the SA Junior Chess Championships at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University South Campus in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday. He was welcomed by Chess South Africa (Chessa) president Emelia Ellapen, whom he praised for her efforts to raise the level of chess on the continent.
But, it was the eldest of the three Polgar sisters, Susan, who was the main attraction outside the actual playing of games. Not as strong as Judit, her youngest sibling, Susan still has umpteen achievements to her credit, including being a former women’s world champion. Her promotion of women in chess has brought her fame, and this is why she was in SA: to hold a three-day seminar on women in chess.
Over 1 800 children are playing in an inter-provincial team tournament followed by an individual championship. Western Province is not shining in spite of several top players at adult level. Mohamed Bhawoodien was scoring heavily, but had little support in the U-20 team. Daniel Barrish, 11, was allowed to compete in the U-18s, and it is the youngest who are the hope of the future.
Due to erratic planning, the African Junior Championships are taking place at the Baobab College in Lusaka at the same time as our SA Junior. Cape Town’s Tiffany Darling, 11, is almost certain to gain a continental title. According to Fidé rules, an entry fee of 70 (R765) is required for each invited player and 140 for each additional player. Federations are responsible for paying the entry fees for each of their players, so WIM Anzel Solomons’ complaint as to Chessa’s lack of funding has been heard.
Port Elizabeth saw a new Chess SA executive elected. The only member of the outgoing executive to retain her place was Ellappen (Western Province), president; her vice-president is Marius van Zyl (Eastern Province). The other members are Hendrik du Toit (MidGauteng), executive director; Bridgette Burger ( Western Province Central), general secretary; Ewan Oberholzer (Northwest Province), director of finance; Gunther van den Bergh (Western Province Central), director of ratings; Michael Burke (Gauteng Central), director of development; Geraldine Engelman (Gauteng South), director of public relations.
Although it was almost certain that Vladimir Kramnik would win the title at the London Chess Classic, as he needed only to draw with Levon Aronian, which he did, it was expected that the world number one, Magnus Carlsen, would overcome Nigel Short and take second. As Chessbase reported: “Life had its own plans, as did Hikaru Nakamura, since Carlsen could not break the Englishman, while the American shocked Michael Adams with a King’s Gambit, and won in a volatile position to take clear second.”