SA gets first chess grandmaster

2012-09-11 12:21

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Cape Town - A Cape Town man who grew up in Mitchells Plain has become South Africa’s first chess grandmaster.

Kenny Solomon, a 32-year-old father who started playing the game when he was 13-years-old was in a team of five South Africans at the 2012 World Chess Olympiad in Turkey, the Cape Times reported.

Solomon was one of just eight international contestants to receive chess’s highest honour. The grandmaster title is also one that is held for life.

To become a grandmaster a player must have a performance rating consistently above 2 500.

A friend of Solomon’s told the Argus that the Mitchells Plain man had a rating of around 2 600 over nine rounds at the Olympiad as well as at three other previous tournaments.

“The best rating in the world is 2 880. Kenny has been working very hard for the grandmaster title - even while he trained me he was preparing himself. He deserves it.”

After he started playing, Solomon began reading chess books, taught himself and in two years won the national championship.

According to cultural affairs and sport MEC Ivan Meyer Solomon is only the second chess player from sub-Saharan Africa and only the eighth in Africa to achieve the grandmaster title.

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