Reflections on Mitchell’s Plain Chess Club by Dr Lyndon Bouah

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Over the last few years, various chess clubs have been staging events across Cape Town. In this year Steinitz and Crossroads chess club hosted events in April which were very successful. In the month of June, Mitchell’s Plain opens the winter season with a Rapid event in Mitchell’s Plain. Mr. Reggie Sinden sent me some facts about Mitchell’s Plain chess club. The club was established in December 1980 with the first president being Mr. Ebrahim Smith, the secretary Robert Crowie and the treasurer Reggie Sinden. The club was established at Westridge Library which would remain its home venue for the last thirty years. The club played in the WP Chess Association (WPCA) League in 1981 for the first time.

The top players in the league at that time were: Julian Mulder (1793), Aubrey Solomon (1773) , Maxwell Solomon (1767) Reggie Sinden (1707) , Selvyn Lewis (1662) and a number if strong school and club players. The club has a proud tradition of hosting its annual club championships with the winners being : 1980 – Reggie Sinden 1981 – Aubrey Solomon 1982 – Maxwell Solomon 1983 – Maxwell Solomon 1984 – Maxwell Solomon 1985- Mark Lewis 1986 – Maxwell Solomon 1987 – 1988 – Maxwell Solomon 1989 – Maxwell Solomon 1990- Maxwell Solomon 1991- 1992- 1993 – Malcolm Fredericks 1994- Malcolm Fredericks 1995- Malcolm Fredericks 1996- Wilfred Nelson 1997- Wilfred Nelson 1998- Ian Eley 1999- Virgil Fritz 2000- Kenneth Solomon 2001- Kenneth Solomon 2002- Shabaan Losper 2003- Wilfred Nelson 2004- Wilfred Nelson 2005- Wilfred Nelson 2006- Reggie Wilson 2007- Reggie Wilson 2008- Ashwin Gainsford 2009- Leon Gainsford 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 – Seth Riley Adams 2015- Seth Riley Adams 2016- Raymond Magagula 2017- Rodwin Moses (Legend – Most Wins – Maxwell Solomon – 7, Wilfred Nelson – 5)

In 1986 Mitchell’s Plain had one of its greatest years when it won three club titles. It won the non-provincial Teams title at the South African Chess Association Easter National tournament, the WPCA league with 53/66 points and the Top Four Teams Tournament with 11/12 in October 1986. In 1988 Mitchell’s Plain hosted the Chess Association for the People of South Africa (Capsa) event over the Easter weekend. This was my second national event and I remember the event well with chess players from all over the country participating. My team mate Kassie Oliphant had this habit of loudly proclaiming check when he placed his opponent in check. Of course, he also said check even when he was piece down! In the modern era Mitchell’s Plain chess club has won the Chess WP league three times.

The first time was 1996 and was then followed in 2004 and 2005. The team was a monster to face because it had Kenny Solomon , followed by Maxwell Solomon, then the late Graham Solomon, followed by Wilfred Nelson, Malcolm Fredericks and Aubrey Solomon with a number of supporting players like Reggie Wilson, Shabaan Losper and others. On an individual level Nazeem Mustapha in 1986 won the SA schools championship in Oudtshoorn. Maxwell Solomon won the SA Open in 1987 and SA Closed title in 1988. Maxwell became a Protea player when he was selected to play in the 1992 Olympiad in Manila, Philippines. Advocate Maxwell would go on to play in the 1994 Olympiad in Russia and 2000 Olympiad in Turkey. He became one of the first South Africans to beat a grandmaster in the modern era when he defeated grandmaster Maduna from the Czech Republic at the Olympiad in 1994. The greatest Mitchell’s Plain player is undoubtedly Grandmaster Kenny Solomon.

Kenny won his first national title in 1995 when he won the SA Under 16 championship after capturing the WP Open when he defeated me in the final round. He also won the Mackie Memorial in 1995 with 7/7! Kenny won his first South African title at the age of 19 and would go on to win just about everything in Cape Town, the Western Cape and South Africa and Kenny. Kenny has won the SA Open on several occasions and the SA Closed in 2003. Kenny played ten consecutive Olympiads from 1998 until 2016 and has played over 100 times at the Olympiad. He achieved the grandmaster norm four titles and won the title when he became the best player in Africa in 2014.

He won in 2017 the zonal in Zambia going through unbeaten! This article will not be able to do justice to Kenny, save to say that Kenny has served as an inspiration to all of us in South Africa! I first played for WP in 2000 when we captured the interprovincial title in Port Elizabeth. In 2002 when the event took place again, I was captain of a team that included Kenny, Maxwell and Graham Solomon. The other player was Jonathan Gluckman. In the first decade of the new millennium, Kenny and Maxwell were regular members of the WP team that achieved the feat of winning the Interprovincial title ten times! One of the funniest things as captain that I had to contend with was that players like Kenny would tell me he doesn’t need to rest and that players like Maxwell, David and myself can rotate because he wanted to play all the games! As a player and opponent, Mitchell’s Plain has been a fantastic opponent and rival.

The club is very competitive and loves to win. A few years ago, the club was relegated but has since won promotion back to the Premier. Mitchell’s Plain has always done well in developing neighbouring communities in Cape Town and its young players with the latest prodigy being Seth Riley Adams. So, colleagues in the chess fraternity let’s go and support Mitchell’s Plain in their Rapid event! It promises to be a great event!! See you there!

Source: Dr Lyndon Bouah.

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