Super chess grandmaster Wesley So officially opened the Southern African Junior Chess Championship (SAJCC) on Sunday, 16 December. The event, which is the largest chess tournament in South Africa and one of the biggest chess events in Africa, has seen at least 2300 players and 300 coaches and team managers attending from all over the country.
Wesley, who was introduced by SAJCC Chief Arbiter Ronald King will be involved in a number of activities to promote chess in South Africa including playing in doubles, having a 102-board simultaneous exhibition on Wednesday, a question and answer session with some of the top players in South Africa and a visit to Joubert Park later in the day. The simultaneous chess exhibition, where the grandmaster faces many players at the same time, is the largest ever chess simul in the history of chess in South Africa.
In his remarks the grandmaster, who has come all the way from Minnesota in the US, mentioned that he was very pleased to be at the SAJCC and in South Africa. He also spoke about his excitement at seeing the next generation of chess players at the tournament.
Wesley also thanked the people who had been involved in making his trip possible including Tournament Director Hendrik Du Toit and Tournament Organizer Judie-Marie Steenkamp. He also thanked Graham Jurgensen of the Kasparov Chess Foundation for the role he had played. He wished the players well in the tournament and was looking forward to some great chess over the course of the tournament.
Later in the morning Wesley went off to Joubert Park where he faced some of the local chess players in the park. He was playing with time odds of his one minute against three minutes for the other player. Despite these odds he did not lose a single game in the park. Only one player was able to hold him to a draw, Bruce Mubayiwa, the spokesperson for the SAJCC.
It was a very sad start to the day for everyone at the Southern African Junior Chess Championship (SAJCC 2018). A moment of silence was observed during the opening of the SAJCC Tournament for two people who died on their way to the chess tournament. Rico van Zyl and his mother Sarina van Zyl passed away in a car accident on their way to the SAJCC from Sasolburg.
SAJCC expressed their deepest condolences to the family and friends of the van Zyl’s and the Sedibeng Chess Region. An open board will be kept throughout the tournament for Rico van Zyl.
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