KZN makes its move

2014-09-22 00:00

THEY slugged it out in head-to-head battles in the game of Kings and Queens.

Playing at the Durban International Convention Centre, for over 2 000 children aged seven to 18, it is the first Open International Chess Tournament to be held in the city.

And KwaZulu-Natal, with its 28 entrants in the South African team, is hoping to make its mark on the global stage. The provincial contingent qualified after a series of four tournaments; two provincial and two national.

With 11 rounds of solid chess which includes two games each day, Keyana Padayachee (15) from Crawford College Durban North, said it took her two months of “solid preparation” to be ready for the tournament.

“I spent at least an hour a day practising and reading books on how to reassess my chess and opening moves,” said Keyana.

With hopes of being an actuarial scientist or investment broker, Keyana said the international players were far more “attacking”.

The tournament, which is recognised by the World Chess Federation and supported by Chess SA, has drawn the top players in the world, which is dominated by Russia, the U.S. and India. Between matches children practised on tables set up throughout the centre to work out their mistakes from previous rounds.

Chess in KZN has seen a resurgence in recent years largely due to the correlation between the strategic game and maths and science and the backing of President Jacob Zuma — an avid chess player.

Sachin Reddy (12) from Umhlali Prep has seen chess take him to several countries.

“I have been to Germany, Austria, Slovenia and I might be off to Brazil [to compete in the World Schools Individual Championships 2014] at the end of the year. My parents fully support me.

“I prefer playing against real people as computer-generated opponents are generally quite predictable,” said ­Sachin.

Devouring all things chess from books to YouTube videos and online match-ups — and with dreams of becoming a physicist — Sachin said he is always thinking “nine moves ahead”.

“I generally open classically. When I assess my opposition I continuously look at what they can do so to limit any degree of unpredictability,” said Sachin.

The competition is scheduled to run until September 29.

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