1800 chess players from all over South Africa have come together in Port Elizabeth to compete for the honour of representing South Africa at the World Youth Chess championships.
At stake are the provincial and individual age group championships as well as selection to represent the country at the World Championships next year.
Youngsters from 19 provincial unions in seven different age groups ranging from seven to 19 years old doing battle in one of the world’s oldest and most mind-challenging contests.
The development of chess is alive and well at grass roots level
The chess tournament started today and will continue until the 21st of December. President of the Nelson Mandela Bay Chess Union Marius van Zyl says even though developing in disadvantaged communities, chess continues to be a sport of the elite because of a lack of sponsorship.
Zyl says the difficulty is that once the players do well and they attain national colours, we have very limited sponsorships. “So, to go and play overseas becomes very expensive; and then it becomes exclusive to those who can afford to play. And therefore, we lose development kids. So, we get sponsors on board to assist because it is very expensive. There is no national sponsorship that will hopefully come in place. I believe in essence we are helping.”
The development of chess is alive and well at grass roots level at schools in South Africa. But it is later on, in the careers of budding chess players that problems arise, especially, for those from less affluent families.