Old Crossroads is a home of champions!! Yes, this notorious township is home to the champions of the Western Province Chess League D Division. Despite winning the 40 team group two weeks ago the spirits are still high in the team and their coach Thando Hlakula is proud of his boys and girls. The team has now being promoted to the C division in the league and will resume playing next year. Hlakula said that the victory was a reward for his teams focus on the game despite challenges in their surroundings. “Having participated in the D division for the first time officially, and subsequently winning it, it’s something that we will always reflect on with fervent memories. It was a well deserved victory even if I have to say it myself, as we eat, sleep and live chess on a daily basis. There is a lack of positivity in townships like Crossroads and chess has become one of the few things which keep us breathing,” he said. The team faced off with 40 other teams for a period of 7 months this year and ended up at the summit of the league. The coach thanked the players as well as their strong support structure turned them into a strong team in just 3 years since the team’s establishment. “It would be remiss of me not to pay gratitude and acknowledge the immense support we’ve received from our development officer Eugene Steenkamp. He has been behind the club since day one, at times offering his own personal transport so to ferry our players to chess tournaments. I would also like to thank Deon Solomon and the rest of the Western Cape Chess Executive Committee for welcoming us and all the teams we’ve played amongst or against. Not forgetting Watu Kobese for his huge contribution in training the club, with a short period of time his aptitude for chess is really showing off,” he said. The team was established by the local library in 2015 with Hlakula being at the helm since then. The team started with just 10 young children but has now blossomed into 35 member team with medals to show. Hlakula said that some people may not grasp why this is such a big deal but shared some light on this. “You know people who do not play chess often think it is just a couple of checks and mate but not knowing that you sit for hours labouring to stop your opponent’s ideas. Trying to exalt your own and ending up maybe winning a pawn, position or tempo which might give you a slight advantage over your opponent and you still need to convert that advantage into a win. So winning the League was a mammoth task with all the challenges that the club faces,” said the proud coach.