Chess to build bridges

2015-09-17 06:00


Chess is being brought to the community throught this roadshow steered by the local sports department and author Watu Kobese(far right). 

PHOTO: 
Mandla Maahashe

Chess is being brought to the community throught this roadshow steered by the local sports department and author Watu Kobese(far right). PHOTO: Mandla Maahashe

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In a bid to make the game of chess less foreign, a partnership by the local department of sports and recreation and former professional chess player Watu Kobese will see the game brought closer to young minds.

The partnership began when the professional chess player Kobese wrote a how-to-play chess book in IsiXhosa.

Kobese has been crowned chess champion in the country more than three times and is ranked as a master internationally.

The title of the book is Masidlale Uthimba. He is credited with coining the term uthimba for the boardgame in IsiXhosa.

‘The objective of the game is to capture your opponent’s king, so to impound in IsiXhosa is ukuthimba.

In this book, its just more than translating English terms for the rules and pieces of the game, but rather to rename the terms so that they can relate to our communities,’ Kobese told City Vision during activation at the Gugulethu mall.

Kobese and the local sports department are taking the book and the game of chess on a road show by staging demonstrations at various places in the townships.

“We kicked off with a roadshow in Khayelitsha last week, where we invited young people to come and play chess at the Khayelitsha Mall.

The more visible the game is, there more people will be interested, hopefully,” he said.

He said even they hope that this initiative will help demystify the game in local communities.

“Even today you can see that a lot of people look on at the board games on the table but they are too shy to join.

To them, it’s a foreign concept and by giving the game a Xhosa term and instructions in their language, it will help in breaking the boundary, ‘ said Kobese.

Thabo Tutu, director of sports promotions at the provinces sports and recreation department, said that chess is one of their priority codes.

‘We are focusing on developing codes such as cycling, basketball, athletics and chess. We believe that chess is crucial sport as it promoted discipline and time management. These are important traits from young people.

It is also good to create bonds among the young children and strengthen friendships,’ said Tutu.

He said that he hope that more townships schools could play chess schools would play the sport.

‘If it is played in school it could permeate into the community and it is through initiatives like these that we can grow the sport, ‘said Tutu.

Two weeks ago we featured learners from Sinako High School in Khayelitsha that established their own chess club.

They were part of the exhibition in Gugulethu and also received the book last week.

Okuhle Tshiwo, a grade 11 learner, said that he found the book very informative.

You can learn a lot from the book if you are starting to play chess.

Even when you have been playing for a while there is a lot you can learn,’ he noted.

Kobese is recognised internationally both as a master and FIDE Trainer, which qualifications he acquired in 2005.

He has won the South African Closed three times, in 1998, 2003 and 2011 and the South African Open twice, in 2004 and 2008, and became an International Master in 2005.

He played for South Africa in the Chess Olympiads of 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010.

Kobese is the author of Masidlale Uthimba, the first Xhosa chess book, published in July 2015 and translated from a version he wrote in Zulu nine years before

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