Bright Minds Academy: Chess champ opens own club

2020-01-08 06:00
International chess champion, Jesse February, recently opened her own chess club, Bright Minds Academy.              Photo:KAILIN DANIELS

International chess champion, Jesse February, recently opened her own chess club, Bright Minds Academy. Photo:KAILIN DANIELS

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“TURNING your dreams into goals and your goals into a reality.”

This is the slogan of the newly opened chess club, Bright Minds Academy, sparked by Bay chess champ, Jesse February, who has vowed to give back to the Port Elizabeth community.

After winning several international tournaments, February was determined to set new goals and to teach others the craft of chess.

“At first, someone asked me if I was available for chess lessons and I decided to give it a go. I’ve started coaching at Collegiate High School and once I learned how to handle kids, it all became natural. The most important thing is that the person should want to learn,” February said.

This sparked her interest to open her own chess club, Bright Minds Academy, which aims at promoting chess in communities and schools alike; teaching people of all ages how to play, how to improve and what it’s like to be a chess player.

February added, “It’s more than just a chess school; it goes way beyond those boundaries. You will learn about patience, focus, social skills, the element of competition and of course, strategy and problem solving.”

February’s chess journey started at a very young age and started playing for the Eastern Cape region in 2006.

“It has been a long road with chess.

“In 2014, I received my junior South African colours and it was also my first chance to see the world.

“My international debut was at the Commonwealth Games in 2014, which were held in Glasgow, Scotland. I was 17 and I knew then, that my passion for chess would never be altered,” she said.

By the end of 2014, she was awarded the Woman Fide Master title. By 2016, she achieved the Women’s International Master title held in Mauritius, after which she received her senior colours.

February’s newly opened academy boasts several activities and lesson materials.

These include a booklet with activities and lesson material, refreshments, an interactive lecture by February, chess history crash courses and learning about the chess masters of today.

“I have also decided to include matches against fellow members, tournament practice and guest lectures from masters around the world. This will also allow all chess players to make new friends,” she said.

The group sessions will be in a chess studio on Saturdays for two hours with an intermediate and advanced session. The rookie and master sessions will soon be available.

February said that plans are in the pipeline to roll out a project to cater for schools in Port Elizabeth to receive free chess lessons.

She added, “There are many learners in school that want to play chess, but unfortunately, do not have someone to teach them.

“My plan is to visit these schools to teach learners how cool and fun chess can be.”

For more information on chess sessions, visit or email February at


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