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.

Friday, 10 February 2017

SA Junior Closed

The SA Junior Closed is scheduled to take place at Kopanong Hotel & Conference Centre in Benoni from 5th to 12th April this year. The organisers have just released the following documents:

For more information, please contact Erick Takawira.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

ECA 1st rapid GP

The first event in the Ethekwini rapid series took place on 4th February 2017 at the Durban Jewish club. Top seed Joseph Mwale secured 1st place by defeating his closest rivals, Wanda Khanyile and Lindo Xulu, in rounds 4 and 5, before coasting to an early draw against Cyril Danisa in the last round. He was followed home by a group of 5 players on 5 points out of 6. Here are the detailed results.

The last game to finish on one of the top boards showed how nervy rapid chess can be:

Black to move and draw
With less than a minute left on the clock, Black started thinking and I expected 1...Rxf4+ 2.Rxf4 Bxf4 3.Kxf4 hxg5+ 4.Kxg5 with a draw. However, Black played 1...Bxf4 and was so surprised by 2.g6! in reply that he resigned! The funny thing is that 2...Rf6 3.Rxf4 Rxf4+ 4.Kxf4 is only a draw, despite what your chess engine might tell you, as the black King gets stalemated in the corner.

JZ chess photos

I have recently received some photos from the annual JZ chess tournament, which was held on 20th December 2016 in Mandeni. The event was organised by Sandile Xulu on behalf of the Jacob G Zuma Foundation. Detailed results are not available, but I can tell you that the winner of the main prize was IM Johannes Mabusela.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Seasons greetings

Penny Dlamini, Lisa Griffiths and Nishi Baboolal
King Cetshwayo players (at fun tournament in December)
King Cetshwayo (formerly Uthungulu) Chess Association hosted its last tournament for 2016 on the 4th of December.  The lovely ladies on the committee persuaded me to wear a silly hat for the group photo and want to thank the King Cetshwayo community, including parents, schools and players, for their support and dedication throughout 2016.

Wishing everybody a blessed Festive Season and a Happy New Year!

SAJCC 2016

The annual chess extravaganza known as the SAJCC took place this year from the 15th to the 23rd of December, at Birchwood Conference Centre in Boksburg. If I'm not mistaken, 260 teams took part, which is apparently a new record, with close to 2,300 participants ranging from the under 8's to the under 20's. The numbers were so large that two playing halls had to be used, with about 800 players aged 16 to 20 in OR Tambo hall and 1,500 youngsters in the larger Terminal hall. The arbiting team worked from early on the 15th until 1 am on the morning of the 16th so that everything was ready for the opening ceremony a few hours later.

Chess SA president Eldo Smart opens the 2016 SAJCC in Terminal hall
Here is a summary of all the team results (docx format, 13 pages long) which was prepared by the arbiting team. It can be seen that gold medals in the Championship (A section) went to:

under 08 Western Province (Ethekwini 3rd),
under 10 Tshwane (Ethekwini 5th),
under 12 Western Province (Ethekwini 3rd),
under 14 Western Province (Ethekwini 2nd),
under 16 Ethekwini (WP 2nd, Joburg Metro 3rd, Tshwane 4th)
under 18 Western Province (Ethekwini 4th),
under 20 Tshwane (Ethekwini 5th).

The gold to Ethekwini in the under 16 division was the only blot on the Western Province and Tshwane clean sweep! This was an incredibly close division - 3 of the top 4 teams were equal on match points (they won 5 matches each) and, if this section had been decided on match points, then Johannesburg Metro would have been the winners, as they won all their matches. It all goes to show how important it is to have strength in depth, when game points are the key number.

Our gold medal team, from left: Anele Danisa, Mayilan Chetty, Kiashen Maharaj, Cayden Pather,
 Dayaan Parthiephal, Sachin Reddy, Zahra Kara, Cailin Chetty, Joseph Mwale (coach),
Chad Millard, Ayanda Gumede (manager), absent - Ananta Reddy.
The team event was followed by the Wild Card tournaments, for those players who had not already qualified for the Junior Closed in 2017. Notable KZN successes were:

under 12 1st Mayaskar Nair
under 14 2nd Abhay Prithipal
under 16 =3rd/14th Chad Millard, Lance Leslie-Smith, Cayden Pather
under 18 4th Shivar Gopaulsingh
under 20 1st Jivorn Reddy, 2nd Truwen Reddy

An Inter Regional team championship was held at the same time as the Wild Card event. It was won quite convincingly by the "A-team" from Tshwane. Sadly the Ethekwini team failed to perform, after being seeded 4th they ended up in a disappointing 15th place. I was an arbiter for this event and have now captured all 308 games (PGN) - there are some great games.

Chess on TV

Chess was recently featured in an SABC TV news broadcast - here is a YouTube video of the broadcast. The occasion was the 8th JZ Chess Open, which was held this year in Mandeni, on the 20th December 2016. The event was organised by the Jacob Zuma Foundation. Thanks to Sandile Xulu, who provided this link. Sorry, no results were supplied to me.