Exciting developments in South Africa

The Official launch of the moves for life program

Sunday, October 26, 2010 will go down the annals of South African Chess history books as a turning point for the development and popularization of our beloved passion, Chess, in the country. The Moves for Life Chess program was launched at a Gala-dinner, where heavy hitters in politics, business and chess circles were in attendance. The Honorable State President, Mr. Jacob Zuma, was the main speaker. The Minister of Education, Mrs. Angie Mothsekga, Deputy Minister of Sports and Recreation Mr. Gert Oosthuizen, were the ministers that graced the occasion. The business community was represented by CEO’s from the mining, engineering, manufacturing, IT and tool making industries to name but a few.

These captains of industry were there to announce their continued financial support of the program, as well as to pledge monies for the near future. FIDE was represented by FIDE Vice President Mr. Lewis Ncube and FIDE Vice President and Chairman of Chess in Schools Commission Mr. Ali Nihat Yazici. The South African Chess Federation, CHESSA, was represented by its President Emelia Ellappen, who is also Deputy President of the African Chess Union, and some of the members in the executive.


President Zuma announced his support and recognition of chess as a problem-solving training activity. He highlighted the cognitive development and advancement in ability as some of the gains that young learners will derive from chess learning.”It is an important game in many aspects, the main benefit being that it contributes to the development of strategic thinking as well as concentration, analytical skills and problem solving”. A drive to have chess in all schools in South Africa will be further strengthened by the President’s willing and helping hand. “We will play our part as government .Both the departments of Basic Education as well as Sports and Recreation are involved and already working to promote the game” He announced his patronage to the Moves for Life Program, which he commended for being uniquely South African.

The Minister of Education stressed her undying belief in the educational benefits of structured chess. As a Chess-mom, the metamorphosis that a youngster undergoes is to her evident. She announced support from her department and mentioned that teacher chess training will be one of the outcomes from her department next year.

Mr.Yazici, who is a specialist for Chess in Schools, pledged the support that FIDE would give to the program. He explained the approach that has been implemented in the hugely successful Turkish Chess Program:”with cooperation, you will learn from some of our challenges, and not repeat some of the mistakes”.

Moves for Life

The custodian of the Moves for Life program is the Supreme Chess Trust. The Supreme Chess Trust is a registered public beneficiary organization. This Trust provides the necessary governance for funds that can be sponsored or donated towards the roll-out of the moves for life program. The SCT was started in 2008 by Mrs. Marisa van der Merwe, IM Watu Kobese and Mr. Mickey Scheepers as a community outreach project from the sports academy of Waterkloof High School. It has grown from strength to strength, and more trustees who are leaders in their fields have since joined. The main idea of the Moves for Life program is to teach and train chess, not necessarily as a sport, but as a logic and lateral thinking training intervention for maths and science education .The spin-offs for all other areas including chess as a sport will obviously be nurtured. Two legs to the MFL program are Mini-Chess and the Master Moves program. Mini-Chess focuses on grade’s 1,2 and 3.Teachers are trained and provided with necessary material for fun and easy lessons to give to 6-8 year olds. A very unique feature of this curriculum is the innovative and exciting manner in which basic maths and science concepts are taught to young children. This is indeed not surprising; unfortunately there has been a limited effort around the world to using the educational strengths to place chess in a powerful position. The Master Moves program teaches individuals with a strong chess back round how to teach chess. The emphasis is on the development of a structured appreciation and understanding of fundamental theories .This will help the students to also use this process to tackle such a structure in fields of higher learning.

Areas of involvement

The MFL program is involved in all but three provinces in South Africa. We have introduced in these areas either the Mini-Chess or Master Moves program. The Uitkyk Mamelodi and Eesterust program is the only fully sponsored project till now. This Pretoria based program has been sponsored for five years starting in 2008.Mr.Ramokhufi, a headmaster from Zamintuthuko primary school in Mamelodi, wrote about the outputs of learners in the program. Here are some of his findings:”The learners are showing interest and improvement in Mathematics.”He also states” Learners are showing improvement in the level of confidence”. This after only one year in the program!

Marcel Roberts

There have been so many chess talents that have not realized their full potential in Africa. The reason for this failure has been lack of a proper support structure. The trustees of the Supreme Chess Trust thus took a decision to offer a scholarship to a chess potential .Marcel Roberts has been sponsored for schooling in one of the top academic schools in South Africa. He also receives chess training and support for international tournaments. He won the South African u/14 title and is currently playing in the u/14 section of the World Youth Championships in Greece. We plan to afford more of these opportunities to previously disadvantaged youngsters.


An integral ingredient to the advancement of our course is obviously funding. We are working tirelessly to raise the profile for chess, source sponsors and funding from various groups and institutions. It would help if you could sponsor, donate or put us in touch with potential sponsors or donors. Our website is www.movesforlife.co.za

We thank you
IM Watu Kobese, Trustee



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