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Tuks brains out to defend USSA chess title

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Monday night in Secunda, Mpumalanga sees the Tuks chess team set out to make all the right moves to ensure they retain the USSA title.

Godfrey Kgatle (team manager and player) is confident of getting the result they want because the team selection was more strenuous than it was last year.

‘It was based on the player’s current performance and not on what they had achieved in past tournaments. Last year two of our men finished in the top 10. I think this time around we have four players who will be vying for the top 10 positions. Our women’s team who won their category last year is again formidable.’

Chris Kolver is one of the newcomers in the team. His playing CV is quite impressive. In 2015 he placed second at the African Youth Tournament.

That led to him getting a candidate master title which is the first of the four FIDE titles in chess. The ultimate in chess is to become a grand master. Kenny Solomons is so far the only South African chess player to have done so.

Kolver was also South Africa’s top-ranked U18 player but took a year off from competitive play to focus on his matric exams, but he is now again seriously committed to the sport.

According to him the best way to improve one’s game is to play against older and more experienced players consistently.

Johan Sadie is another newcomer to the Tuks team. A definite highlight for him was when he represented South Africa at the World Youth Championships in Greece. He ended up scoring 4.5 out a possible 11 points which according to him was not too bad.

Cora Mak ended up being the third-best women’s player last year. She loves the challenge of trying to outlast and outthink rivals.

‘I’m addicted to the thought process that goes into playing chess as there are so many different moves at any time that could determine the endgame. That is why you have got to think before you play. It once took me about 30 minutes to make just one move. It does not matter how carefully you strategise, there’s always a chance that you might have overlooked that one possible outcome. That’s what makes chess such an exciting game.’

According to Mak the longest game she has ever played lasted just over five hours. It was a personal highlight as at; first, it looked as if she was going to lose, but she managed to remain calm and fought back to a draw.

Mak sees playing internet chess as an excellent way to improve her game.

‘One of the problems being a South African chess player is that you get to play the same players over and over again. At some stage, you get to understand each other’s game so well that you can pre-empt what is going to happen

‘In internet chess, you are not always sure who you are playing which means you got to be innovative.’

The Tuks team is Banele Nxumalo, Cora Mak, Karabo Moremi, Roland Bezuidenhout, Rene de Beer, Chris Kolver, Godfrey Kgatle, Anre Waters, Lize Raubenheimer, Lebohang Mokoena, Inenke de Beer, Mfundo Masiya, Alex Maredi, Alicia Steyn, Johan Sadie and Unverson Govender.

Photo: the Tuks chess team hard at practice, by Reg Caldecott


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