Grandmaster Wesley So plays chess at Joubert Park beating just everyone

After officially opening the Southern African Junior Chess Championship (SAJCC) Grandmaster Wesley So moved to Joubert Park for blitz in the park. There was huge excitement among the chess players who were eagerly awaiting the super grandmaster’s visit to Joubert Park. Many keen chess followers would be very familiar with Wesley’s games but would now get the chance to meet him in person.

This was the very first blitz game played on the table by Grandmaster Wesley So. 

The chess contingent arrived at Joubert Park after 1130 hrs and before long, everyone was already getting down to the serious business of playing chess. What else? Wesley played in the park for at least 2 hours and by the time he was done he had accounted for just about everyone.

The grandmaster began by playing on the giant chess board. He played at least 3 games on the giant chess board and there were frantic scenes during the games as players tried to keep up with him in the game. Playing on the giant set is quite demanding physically. One makes a move and has to walk to the clock to press it.

Tshediso Mpya was the first player to take on Grandmaster Wesley So. Things did not go well for Tshediso after he moved his Qb6 where Wesley was more than happy to capture it with a knight prompting a resignation soon after. 
Making sense of it all on the giant chess board 
A time scramble for the Grandmaster 

After the games on the giant chess set, the focus now moved to the table where the Grandmaster would be based for the rest of his session at Joubert Park. He started off by taking on the young players who started off with some promise but before long the Grandmaster had started his winning streak.

Wesley was playing with time odds of his one minute against three minutes for the other player. If the players thought that Wesley was going to lose a game at Joubert Park they were in for a big surprise. Wesley did not lose a single game. Not only that but he was winning games quite easily and not really being pressed or put under much pressure in this games. It was starting to look more and more like it would be a complete whitewash in all the games.

Wesley had a smile at various points of his games. He seemed very relaxed and having a good time taking on the chess talent in the park.

Despite these odds he did not lose a single game in the park. Only one player was able to hold him to a draw. That was Bruce Tendai Mubayiwa, the spokeperson for the Southern African Junior Chess Champion. However, the game was not without some controversy. Bruce made an illegal towards the end of the game. The grandmaster did not claim an illegal move even though he clearly saw it as shown in the video of the game.

I think you will agree with us that Grandmaster Wesley So had a wonderful time time at Joubert Park

After the games, several pictures were taken. Everyone wanted a photo with the grandmaster and he was more than willing. It was unforgettable afternoon where many players got to fulfill a lifetime dream of playing a super grandmaster right in the heart of Johannesburg at Joubert Park.

Grandmaster Wesley So’s programme in South Africa during SAJCC

Chess Grandmaster Wesley So will be involved in the various activities to promote chess during his visit to South Africa. On Sunday, 16 December he officially opened the Southern African Junior Chess Championship.

Official opening of the SAJCC – 16 December

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 wished the players well in the tournament and was looking forward to some great chess over the course of the tournament.

Chess in Joubert Park

Later in the morning on Sunday Wesley went off to Joubert Park where he played some of the 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.

Here is the Grandmaster’s schedule for the rest of his stay in South Africa

On Monday –  17 December 2018

19:00 – 22:00 Dinner with Chess South Africa Executive Board

Tuesday – 18 December 2018

11:00 – 11:45 How to support a Chess player. Informal discussion in the auditorium (This session will be hosted by Wesley’s mom)
12:00 – 13:30 Autographs & Photographs Session
14:00 – 16:00 Doubles Championships
18:00 – Blindfold Simultaneous Exhibition

Wednesday – 19 December 2018

11:00 – 11:20 20 minute interview with Alessandro (Chess.com)
12:00 – 13:30 Top player informal Question and Answer session
18:00 – + 102 Board Simultaneous Exhibition (This is the largest ever simul event to be held in South Africa)

Did Bruce Mubayiwa play great game against Grandmaster Wesley So or did he swindle him?

On a warm Sunday morning many chess players in Johannesburg descended upon Joubert Park. It has become a kind of tradition that when a Grandmaster visits the Southern African Junior Chess Championships better known as the SAJCC, he also makes time to visit the park. Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura was at Joubert Park earlier in the year and this time it was Wesley So’s turn.

The grandmaster beat everyone else quite easily including chess players much stronger than me. I was watching all the games so had a good chance to see what was going on. Wesley spent very little time in the opening in his games and by the time he got to the middlegame in many games, many players were already facing serious problems.

Bruce Mubayiwa vs Grandmaster Wesley So, 16 December 2018, Joubert Park, Johannesburg

Grandmaster Wesley So is one of my favourite players and I follow his games quite closely. I am not sure at what point I actually decided to play. Perhaps it was when I realised that there was little chance of anyone else doing it as Wesley had just about played everyone.

The grandmaster was beating people left right and centre. No one was coming close to beating him. No matter how noisy the trash talking was, the result was always the same in the end, a win for the GM.

I saw all this from the sidelines and asked if I could play with the humble request”Can I play this man”? Fortunately I was allowed to get into the ring, or at the table is more like it.

It had been agreed that the Grandmaster would have his last game at 1315 hrs. I wanted to have an opportunity to play the GM. Why not? It seemed that everyone else had been given an opportunity but no one could even match him. Some players had even gone twice with no change in the outcome.

Asking to play was an unusual request because I had been filming the event for our Facebook page. During the other games some of the players were doing some serious trash talking but for me it was very different. I was quiet but I am so sure that no one really gave me any chances in the game.

When I got down to play I immediately got into zen mode, I shut out everything else in my mind.
There was no sound in my mind. I did not think of anything else but the game before me. I had no visual except the chess pieces. I am pretty certain that no one gave me any chance at all in my game against Wesley. I thought I might have some chances if I had the white pieces and it was indeed my fortune to have white pieces.

My plan for the game was quite simple, to get a decent position in the opening.I did not want the position to be too familiar to the Grandmaster because that would be just too easy for him. I thought I would go for something a bit on the sidelines. Wesley is well known for his opening preparation and very difficult to surprise at all. Because the GM had just one minute to my three minutes, I figured that if I played reasonably well and play quite fast, I should be fine. It was a simple plan.

As the game proceeded I relaxed a bit and could hear some of the comments being made by the spectators but I really paid no attention at all.

How would I fair in my game because the Grandmaster was demolishing everyone else. I thought that if I play a sideline I would have better chances that playing well known lines. But the opening I played was not really a sideline I think. Wesley played quickly and emerged from the opening with a better position but I didn’t really worry about that.

My biggest concern was being active. I good piece play in the centre and was slightly ahead in development. However, if I wasted any time Wesley was going to eliminate any edge I might have had. I moved quite quickly and decisively in the game.

I had a really crazy idea that I would have good chances against Wesley So. It was very crazy because I am not even titled in chess. I went into the zone from the first move and I completely believed.

From the first move, there was no distraction whatsoever. I did not think I was playing a super grandmaster. I forgot I was playing someone really strong. I was just thinking of the chess game and position.

When Grandmaster Wesley So pressed the clock and my time started moving, I did not move immediately. I paused for at least 2 seconds. What was I waiting for? I was deciding on the opening I would play in our game.

On my sixth move, I clumsily moved my bishop and dropped some pieces. Where the nerves getting to me? No I was just clumsy. I had no nerves.

Many times I play blitz I look at the clock constantly. In this game I did very little of that. I focussed very much on the moves. I was not thinking about winning on time because I have seen just how good these players are. You have to get the work done on the board.

After the game some players felt I should play Wesley So again. I thought about this briefly and decided I was done with playing chess for the day. At least now I can say the only time I ever played a super grandmaster it was a draw. In fact at this point I am thinking about retiring altogether from blitz completely, just so that I will always remember my last game as probably the peak of my blitz play. Who knows if I will be able to stick to this because as many will readily admit, blitz chess is very addictive. For now I will just enjoy what will probably the peak achievement in my chess. I don’t see myself ever beating this.

Wesley jokingly said I had ruined his record at Joubert Park because he had beaten everyone else. He said it with a smile, in his typically laid back style. It has been such a great privilege and honour having the grandmaster and getting to know him a bit as a person.

The illegal move

PS – In this game an illegal move was made on Move 56. In terms of the rules Black should have claimed an illegal move. If a player does not make a claim the position stands. The position

However, knowing Grandmaster Wesley So, I think he just let me have the draw to be honest. That is the kind of gentleman he is. It’s a fly in the ointment for me because this illegal kind of spoilt the game but I think it’s still my best game.

Press Release – Grandmaster Wesley So Officially Opens the Southern African Junior Chess Championship (SAJCC)

Grandmaster Wesley So officially opens the Southern African Junior Chess Champion

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.

Enquiries

Bruce Mubayiwa
Spokesperson
Cell: 081 598 6377
Email: bruce@africachess.net

Reint Dykema
Social media and photos
Cell: 082 898 0997
https://web.facebook.com/SOUTHAFRICANJUNIORCHESSCHAMPIONSHIPS/

Chess Grandmaster Wesley So to visit Joubert Park Sunday 16 December

Chess Grandmaster Wesley So of the US will be visiting Joubert Park  in Johannesburg to take on the local chess players in the park.  He will be taking on the players from 1100 hrs (local time) on Sunday, 16 December 2018. If you are a chess fan and around Joburg on Sunday, you might want to join in the action at the park.   The grandmaster from US is in South Africa to promote chess and to officially open the Southern African Junior Chess Championships (SAJCC). The SAJCC is taking place at the Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre in Boksburg. There is a great deal of excitement among the chess players in Joburg about the grandmaster’s visit.

Earlier in the year Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura also paid a visit to Joubert Park and did not leave the park unscathed. He lost a blitz game to International Master and South African Champion Johannes Mabusela. The balance of power was soon restored when Nakamura beat Mabusela in the second game.  Mabusela was the only player to take a game against his highly fancied opponent. It was a feat that no other player in the park could repeat.  

No doubt that many chess players are going to try their chances against Wesley So. Will anyone be able to beat this Grandmaster who at one stage was World number 2 and could be a future contender for the World Chess Crown currently held by Magnus Carlsen? I would not bet on it.

Wesley So is a super strong player who I believe is getting even stronger and more impressive in blitz.  He came close to beating Hikaru Nakamura in their chess.com Speed Championship Blitz match.  Wesley will probably know about Nakamura’s trip to the park last year and will want to do better.

Grandmaster Wesley So and his mother at the foot of the giant Nelson Mandela in Sandton. 

If the author got a chance he too would love to play the grandmaster.  Who knows if this will be possible given the huge interest that has been generated by Grandmaster Wesley So’s trip.  These are interesting times for chess in South Africa.

Has a tradition been started of bringing Super Chess Grandmasters to this country at the SAJCC? I don’t know but I am certainly not complaining about this as a chess fan and player. It can only mean more great things for our game of chess in Africa.

For more pictures and updates regarding Wesley So’s trip please follow the SAJCC Facebook page which is posting several updates on an ongoing basis. 

Media Invitation to the opening of the Southern African Junior Chess Championship

SAJCC Invitation

15 December 2018

Invitation to the opening of the Southern African Junior Chess Championship (SAJCC)

You are hereby invited to the Official Opening of the Southern African Junior Chess Championship (SAJCC). The SAJCC runs from 16 to 20 December. A total of 2200 players will participate in the team event with 300 coaches and managers that will support them. 30 arbiters will oversee the running of the event. 24 Regions affiliated to CHESS South Africa across the country will be sending their players.

The SAJCC is the largest tournament in South Africa and one of the biggest chess tournaments on the whole continent. Chess players taking part in the event will be from Under 8 right up to Under 20  according to Hendrik du Toit the tournament director.   

Super chess grandmaster and one of the top chess players in the world, Grandmaster Wesley So of the United States will officially open the Southern African Junior Chess Championship on the 16th of December. As part of a continuing drive to raise the profile of the game of chess in South Africa, Grandmaster Wesley So will also play a simultaneous chess exhibition and also host a masterclass on chess. On 18 December the American grandmaster will play in one of the largest ever simultaneous chess exhibition to be held in South Africa. He will face 115 chess players at the same time in what will also be a historic event in Africa. It will be the largest ever simultaneous chess exhibition ever to held in South Africa and probably on the continent as well.  

Venue: Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre Boksburg

Opening Ceremony of the SAJCC is 16 December at 09H00 at Birchwood

The official tournament website is www.sajcc.co.za

Please find attached programme for the SAJCC.

Enquiries

Bruce Mubayiwa
Media and Marketing
Cell: 081 598 6377
Email: Bruce@africachess.net

Reint Dykema
Social media and photos
Cell: 082 898 0997


Michael James wins the SA Online Chess blitz event on Lichess

Michael James
The champion, Michael James (Credit – Facebook profile pic)

Michael James from Cape Town, using the handle MANDOTA won the 2 hour blitz event on Thursday evening on the 12 of April 2018. It was a fantastic tournament with at least 70 players.  In second place was Lindokuhle Xulu (supereu) based in Durban followed by Keith Khumalo (Gupta_Approach).

At 2 hours the event was very tough and it proved to be a brutal affair. By the time the dust had settled there was only one winner and that was none other than Michael James who is already known in the chess circles for his very impressive blitz.

Players are already enquiring about when the next SA Online Chess event will be held. We keenly await details of the next event from Head of SA Online chess – Mfundo Masiya who did a great job in organising the event. There is an SA Online Chess group on Whatsapp where details of these events are shared. This website will also be used to share details of any online chess events coming up in South Africa.

A few stats on the winner in the event.

Performance 2274
Games played 27
Win rate 78%
Berserk rate 0%
Average opponent 2002

His performance rating was an impressive 2274 and he played 27 games winning 78 of them and his opponents in the event had an average rating of 2002. That is not too shabby at all.  Let us see how how number 2 and number 3 faired in the same event.

How does this compare with the stats for the whole event in general?

Average rating 1808
Games played 500
Moves played 35,213
White wins 47%
Black wins 49%
Draws 4%
Berserk rate 15%

The average rating of players in the event was 1808. 500 games were played in the event and the total number of moves was 35, 213. White won 47% while Black won 49% which is quite surprising as you would expect white to win more games than black. Just 4% of the games were draws and the berserk rate was 15%.

Here are a few games from the winner in the event:


https://lichess.org/embed/15L6gAaf#60?theme=auto&bg=auto

https://lichess.org/embed/EWmqeDzg#5?theme=auto&bg=auto

In the following game Michael was clearly lost but won resulting in a very upset Themba Nene (shipping) who simply could not understand how a player without mating material was given the win. This game was the subject of a long debate as chess players weighed in on the matter.

https://lichess.org/embed/0c3ATJUq#3?theme=auto&bg=auto

To view the whole tournament please check out the link below.

https://lichess.org/tournament/OMhbb9PT

Welcome to SA Online Chess

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This is a short note to say welcome. This is where we will post news about upcoming online chess events in South Africa. These events will be run mainly on Lichess and Chess.com. We cannot wait for the next online chess event in South Africa.