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 Khayile 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.