By Sibabalwe Tame
The Makhanda Women’s Chess Tournament kicked off on 12 August at the Gymnasium Hall, Victoria Girls High School, with nine Makhanda schools participating in the tournament. Victoria Primary School, N.V. Cewu Primary School, Makana Primary School, Khutliso Daniels Secondary School, Victoria Girls High, Ntsika Senior Secondary School, George Dickerson Primary School, St Mary’s Primary and Seventh Day Primary took part, with learners playing six rounds each in a junior and senior section.
Winners of the Tournament
In Section A (the Senior Section), Sarah Moller from Victoria Girls Primary, Iyolakha Dondashe and Zenande Skere, both from Ntsika Secondary School and Chakona Rutendo from Victoria Girls High were the winners. In Section B (the Junior Section), the winners were Nombewu Indiphile, and Nabo Ovayo, from N.V. Cewu Primary, and and Fetela Imange, from George Dickerson.
Moller was chosen to play in the Provincial Schools Tournament in East London, and her father, Luke Moller said, “Unfortunately she missed out on playing for the provincial team as she was not in the top seven. She came out at position 13. I’m very proud of her.”
Moller praised the support from Chess South Africa and coach Jeremiah Sewelo, the founder of a chess academy. “Coach Jerry has been instrumental in giving that support. What he is doing with the community in Makhanda is fantastic,” said Moller.
The aim and purpose of the Makhanda Women’s Chess Tournament
Sewelo told Grocott’s Mail that he aimed to see all chess players in Makhanda registered on the database of Chess South Africa (CHESSA), and the Sarah Baartman District Chess Union (SBDCU). “This will see them play chess formally with recognized chess rating credentials,” said Sewelo, co-founder of the two-year-old Sewelo Maths and Chess Community Youth Academy (SEMCCYA) with his wife Nolwakhe Yvonne Sewelo. He added that more than 250 children had been playing in Makana chess tournaments over the past two years, with more than 80% of those players being registered formally with Chess South Africa.
“The secondary aim of the tournament is to encourage more girls to take interest in chess and to recognize and celebrate those who are already taking part in the sport,” said Sewelo, adding that all this was in line with celebrating August as Women’s Month.
Creating equality in chess training
The third objective of the tournament was to create “uniformity” in chess in Makhanda. “Currently, chess in Makhanda is divided into two sectors. On one hand, you have the schools in town, and on the other hand the township schools,” he said.
Sewelo also thanked the tournament sponsor, The Bridge Sports Bar, and the management and the staff of the Assumption Development Centre (ADC) for making resources available for the chess club. The Learning Trust’s After School Programme and the Catch-up Coalition, which ensures the development of quality practitioners such as coaches, mentors, tutors, and sustainable organisations, had “seen to it that the Chess Academy is able to use chess to prepare our youth to excel, not only in the classroom but in every aspect of their lives,” he added.
Lack of support and funding remains a key problem, he said. “We are inviting our local businesses, NPO’s, government developments, and all the stakeholders to come on board and assist us in using this sport to the benefit of our children”, said Sewelo.
**Corrections to the original article: Sarah Moller won the A Section. The original article indicated she won B Section. Fetela Imange is from George Dickerson Primary School rather than NV Cewu Primary School, as stated in the original article.