South African players did not fare too well at the recent continental championship. So what should we do to advance our talented, but under-performing players?
In the old Soviet days the Russian Federation were effective but pretty ruthless in ensuring that stars from Botvinnik to Kasparov progressed from talented amateurs to world class champions.
How did they do it? Established grandmasters had to earn their keep by taking a junior under their wings and become their coaches and mentors.
The great Mikhail Tal had Koblents, Anatoli Karpov, Furman.
Then step by step the rising players played head-to-head matches against opponents stronger than their current rating.
This all takes money, but if Chess South Africa wants to advance the strength of such as Kenny Solomon, that is where our budget should be directed, not at junkets for officials.
* * *
I have been asking for chess news from our continent.
Namibia has a new champion Goodwill Khoa, 23.The nine-round tournament was held at the Protea Thuringerhof Hotel in Windhoek over the Easter weekend.
Khoa drew with last year’s champion Charles Eichab, a frequent visitor to South Africa, and also drew with the tournament favourite Otto Nakapunda in the final.
Following Khoa, was another young chess player, McLean Handjaba who also made chess headlines as he came in second place this year after qualifying for the National team.
* * *
The South African Open has often been plundered by our friends from the north.
Rodwell Makoto from Zimbabwe is the latest. He took last year’s SA Open in Newlands. Now we can expect a Zambian to be among the contestants in Port Elizabeth where the SA Open is combined with the Commonwealth Championship next month..
The Swedish embassy has sponsored Gillan Bwalya who hammerd our players in Botswans last month, with $3000 to make it possible for him to attend the 2013 World Chess Cup in Tromso, Norway. The Chess World Cup 2013 is a 128-player chess single-elimination tournament, which will be played between August 10 and September 5..
The Swedish ambassador, Lena Nordstrom., announced her country’s decision last Saturday. to have a Zambian chess player among the 128 best in the World.
Ambassador Nordstrom said “ The Swedish Embassy is very happy to be able to help Gillian Bwalya to make his Dream come true.”
Bwalya won the 2013 National Individual Chess championship ahead of high-rated International Master, Daniel Jere in Mansa.
Bwalya, who had dropped to third place on Easter Sunday, won his round eight and nine games to tie on seven points with Jere at the end of the tournament held at the Henry Courtyard Lodge.
However, Bwalya, who received K3,000 top prize, was declared winner as he had won more games than Jere, who got K1,500, and also had a lower ranking.
* * *
International Master Robert Gwaze, Zimbabwe’s leading player, took top honors two recent events.
First he won the Africa Chess Lounge Central Library Rapid Open last week. Second came Shane Willenberg and Stephan Wagner on five, Sutukazi Nonkilana scooped the ladies prize and Chad Willenberg took the best scholar with 4/6.
Gwaze followed this success by winning the big Manyanani Open at South Peninsula High School, last week-end ahead of Watu Kobese.
When I asked if he had met Gillan Bwalya, he had both met and beaten the new Zambian star, but added “He is getting better.”
Gwaze will definitely be at next month’s SA Open and Commonwealth Championship in Port Elizabeth as will Kobese, but they both were concerned that Bwalya may not have the funds to travel.