Reflection by Dr Lyndon Bouah
On 10 May 2022 I visited the Newlands Cricket ground in Cape Town where the 2022 South African Closed Chess Championship is currently taking place. There are three sections. The championships will determine the players that will participate in the South African Olympiad team in Chennai, India in July.
History of the South African Closed Chess Championship
The history of the event is a long one! Let’s look at this!
Ken Whyld released a book entitled the Guinness Chess the Records in 1986. He lists all the winners of the SA Closed since the event began. I cross referenced with Mr Leonard Reitstein who wrote the History of Chess in South Africa. Whyld gives the following on page 114:
1892 – Roberts (Reitstein gives Rivett first and then Roberts both with 9.5)
1897 – Roberts
1899 – Micheal
1903 – Lee
1906 – Siegheim
1910 – Duhan
1912 – Seigheim
1920 – Cameron and Chavkin
1924. – Chavkin
1926 – Blieden
1928 – Blieden
1935 – Archer
1937 – Dreyer
1939 – Heidenfeld
1945 – Heidenfeld and Holford
1949 – Heidenfeld
1951 – Heidenfeld
1953 – Eriksen
1955 – Heidenfeld
1957 – Heidenfeld
1959- Heidenfeld and Kirby
1961 – Gerber
1963 – Kirby and Van Den Meyden
1965 – Kroon
1967 – Friedgood
1969 – Kroon
1971 – Friedgood
1973 – Friedgood
1975 – Kroon and De Villiers
1977 – Walker and De Villiers
1979 – Korostenki
1981 – De Villiers
1983 – McFarlane
1985 – De Villiers and Wolpe
1986. – Benny Rhode (CAPSA)
1987 – De Villiers (SACF) and Deon Pick (CAPSA)
1988 – Maxwell Solomon (CAPSA)
1989 – De Villiers (SACF)
1989 – Deon Solomons (CAPSA)
1991 – Deon Solomons (CAPSA)
1993 – IM George Michelakis
1994 – FM Deon Solomons
1995 – IM David Gluckman
1998 – IM Watu Kobese and Mark Rubery
2000 – FM Nicholas van der Nat
2001 – IM Watu Kobese
2003 – IM Watu Kobese and Kenny Solomon
2005 – FM Nicholas van der Nat
2007 – Henry Steel
2009 – FM Nicholas Van Der Nat
2011 – Henry Steel and IM Watu Kobese
2013- Donovan Van den Heever
2015 – IM Daniel Cawdery
2017- IM Johannes Mabusela and FM Calvin Klaasen
2019- FM Daniel Barrish
The player with the most SA Closed titles is Wolfgang Heidenfeld.
Between 1939 and 1959 he won the national championship no less than 8 times and on the last occasion according to Reitstein he was also the champion of Ireland. Heidenfeld’s greatest success was in 1955 when he tied with W.J Muhring above ex- world champion Max Euwe at the Johannesburg International.
Heidenfeld wrote prolifically for the South African Chessplayer and also wrote several books including Lacking the Master Touch, a collection of his own games, and Draw! an acclaimed collection of drawn games from master play. Heidenfeld played in the Olympiad for South Africa and Ireland and his son Mark later represented Ireland as well.
In this day and age we may never have another player dominating with 8 championships over 20 years. FM Charles de Villiers is second with 6 titles followed by IM Watu Kobese with four and then a number of players with 3.
From 1986 two SA chess championships were held. In 1984 a black South African chess body was formed to represent players who believed in non-racial chess. This body staged their own chess championships as well. Players such as Deon Solomons, Maxwell Solomon, Gordon Lawrence, Shabir Bhawoodien, Jannie Saffier, Mark Lewis, Roland Willenberg, and Lyndon Bouah came from this body.
It is a matter of debate whether the 1993 and 1994 SA Trials were also SA Closed. I am going to submit that they were and must be counted as such because the best players in the country were invited to play and participated in both events. So for the completeness of the record books I am enclosing both those events with winners as well as the winners of the SA Closed played by the black chess body as those records must also be counted.
In the SA Closed of 2022, IM Daniel Cawdery and GM Kenny Solomon are running neck and neck, but of course young FM Banele wishes to join the party. The off number of players of course makes things difficult to call but everyone is playing their heart out. A number of established players are struggling, and this could be due to lack of tournament practice because of the dearth of events. The games are all hard fought and everyone wishes to become South African champion!
In the games tonight GM Kenny Solomon and IM Daniel Cawdrey drew. It was an unusual Grünfeld. The queens came off early and Cawdrey later attacked the centre with c5 and f5. Interesting game.
On the second board Banele Mhango beat FM Shabir Bhawoodien who had sacrificed his queen but FM Mhango was up to the defensive task.
On board three IM Watu Kobese and Zonal Champion FM Calvin Klaasen had a battle royale. I was literally on the edge of my seat as I was not sure about all the tactical complications in this game! Kobese took the point.
On the fourth board defending SA Champion Daniel Barrish beat Kenny Willenberg.
In the women’s section African and South African Champion WIM Jesse February beat FM Rebecca Selkirk, WIM Anzel Laubscher beat Jacqui Grobbelaar.
WIM Charlise van Zyl beat Robyn Klaasen in a well played attack.
In the Senior Section (over- 50) Mark Lewis beat Pierre Goosen.
Andrew Southey beat Mike Van Schaik after pressure with a knight sacrifice.
Cecil Ohlson beat Dr Omar Esau and is running with Mark Lewis at the top of the leaderboard! Greg Baker and Stephen Gallied drew their game!
Hans Steyn brought his A-game from Pretoria and is a contender! The standing as at the end of round five are:
Dr Lyndon Bouah is an advocate and was captain of the South African Open team during the 2018 Batumi Olympiad. He is also one of Africa’s most prolific chess writers.
2022 South African Closed Chess Championship on chess-results.com.
Reflection on GM Kenny Solomon by Dr Lyndon Bouah.
Reflection on IM Aderito Pedro by Dr Lyndon Bouah.
GM Kenny Solomon’s visit to Kenya.