Zuma plays chess with Nkandla youngsters

2009-12-23 00:00

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma yesterday presided over the inaugural KwaZulu-Natal Chess Tournament held at his home town of Nkandla, and called on schools in the province to take up the pastime to enhance pupils’ strategic thinking abilities.

The tournament was orga­nised by the newly-formed KwaZulu Chess , which aims to grow interest in the game throughout the province.

Zuma, an ardent chess player, took part in one of the games, saying he had learnt to play while he was incarcerated on Robben Island.

He was approached by a group of locals who wanted to start the game in the area as a way of taking children off the streets and developing their minds. Zuma pledged his support and promised to take part in the tournament, and yesterday he lived up to his promise.

“People might wonder what all the fuss is about this game. Today we have a lot of young people who cannot concentrate; this game will teach you to focus, will teach you patience and strategic thinking, thus enhancing your mental capabilities.

“Today we have a problem with pupils who are lagging behind in mathematics, but with this game you will learn tactics that might assist in your studies,” he said.

Zuma, who arrived in Nkandla aboard a military helicopter, told over 200 pupils from various schools who participated in the tournament that in chess, one should always play towards a goal.

He quipped that when he was playing in jail, it was all about learning how to outsmart the enemy — the apartheid government.

“I even named some of the opponents in the chess set Vorster, just so I inculcated this in mind.

“I will encourage schools to convene tournaments when chess is played. I am hoping this will be very rewarding.

“Without good tactics and strategic thinking, you will fail; you should learn how Shaka commanded his army. He used rare tactics that were even adopted by other nations of the world,” he said.

Zuma encouraged local businesspeople to invest in the pastime, saying they should see to it that it is developed, and to help promising players.

Sandile Xulu, who organised the tournament and who is the president of KwaZulu Chess, said his dream is to see the game unearthing talent in the area and for a local champion to participate on a world stage.

“I thank the president for his encouragement. This has done a lot to boost our confidence … It has always been a game for the affluent and this will change.”

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