Reflections 6 on the Chess Western Province League by Dr Lyndon Bouah

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Round nine and ten of the Chess Western Province league took place on Saturday 24 August 2019 at the Sarepta Recreation Centre. The players know the venue having played there last week. The previous few days I was in the Southern Cape and in Central Karoo. My colleague who travelled with me agreed to drive with me at 03:45am from Prince Albert to enable me to get to the playing hall on time. You see it was big day for chess in Cape Town. Steinitz, the reigning champions would be playing Stellenbosch who is a notoriously difficult team and who in the past has proven to be a nemesis. And on the adjoining board, ACL would be playing the other abbreviation MRL! MRL won the league in 2017 while ACL won the league in 2015 and 2016. So, the scene was set for an epic Saturday morning! I explained all these intricacies to my working colleague who just nodded at my excitement as I was explaining the nuances of the permutations whilst we were passing Laingsburg and Touws River in the early morning hours! But was important was not the 400-kilometre journey I undertook at 3:45am but getting to the venue and supporting my team and playing my part in the adventure.

1. But let’s start as we usually do with the D Division: analysis

Observatory beat Bellville 6-0 with Taurique Jenkins taking time out from civic activism to play on board one. Drakenstein Dragons beat UCT 4-2 as they mount a fiery challenge to gain promotion. Kraaifontein B beat a determined Crossroads B 3.5 to 2.5 to lift their chances at promotion even further!

In the afternoon round Kraaifontein B trounced Manyanani 6-0 to lay an emphatic charge on the title. Crossroads B beat one of their rivals Drakenstein Dragons 4-2 to continue their pursuit of promotion. Let’s have a look at the cross table after round ten. The cross table reveals:

Kraaifontein B has 19 points and has secured the division. Congratulations on them winning the Division with a round to spare!!! This is an incredible feat. To play hard and win in this style is not easy. Congrats Burton and team. (two points are awarded for a match victory so even if the second team should score 2, they can’t overtake Kraaifontein).

In second position Drakenstein Dragons has 16 points and is playing Manyanani who is in ninth position. They just need to beat them to secure promotion. In third position is Crossroads B on 15 points who just had too many drawn matches. They had three drawn matches. Drakenstein Dragons has their future in their own hands!

2. Analysis of C Division

Grassy Park and Sanlam drew 3-3 whilst Elsies River beat Steinitz 4-2. Kraaifontein A showed they meant business by defeating Manyanani 4.5 to 3.5.

In the afternoon matches Kraafontein A drew 3-3 with UWC B. This was an important result as it meant that Kraaifontein wins the division with a round to spare! congrats Edwin November and colleagues.

The cross table reveals the following:

Kraaifontein A has an unassailable lead with 18 points. Out of 10 matches played they drew two and won 8! In second position is Manyanani who has 14 points and has the tricky fixture against Steinitz C in the last round. Stellenbosch C has 13 points and has to play Maties. (a sort of home game! So,

the battle is set for second place. Will Steinitz be the king maker or the destroyer of dreams on 7 September?

3. Analysis of B section

This division is tough one because there are many talented players and clubs that want to be in the premier section. Let’s look at the morning rounds!

Steinitz B beat Crossroads A 3.5 to 2.5 which put a huge dent in the hopes of Crossroads who were hoping to play Premier next year.

Elsies River A drew with CPUT 3-3. Elsies River is now getting ready for Premier Status. An interesting aspect of Elsies Rivier is that their board one is Mr. Wali Rahman who is 78 and has a rating of 1895! He has scored 5.5/10. Well done Mr. Rahman.

UWC drew with fellow students UCT 3-3. UWC is led by Keegan Agulhas and badly wanted that win as they seek promotion!

Grassy Park emphatically beat Capablanca 6-0 which surprised me as their players are quite capable club players. well done to Grassy Park.Mitchell’s Plain drew 3-3 with Blackjacks. Fuad Arnold making a welcome return to chess playing.

Stellenbosch B and Bellville B drew their match 3-3 with no draws!!

In the afternoon round UWC A out their promotional chances back on track with a 4.5 to 1.5 win against against Steinitz. On board one Kahill Dhevcharran beat Keegan Agulhas in a good game. The upsets were the two Fritz girls beating the two Willenberg brothers! Well done Kaylyn and Tegan.

Bellville B beat UCT 4-2. Blackjacks won with 4.5 to 1.5 against Stellenbosch

In the big game of the round Crossroads A drew 3-3 with Elsies River A.

The cross table reveals the following:

Elsies River A has qualified for promotion because only UWC A can overtake them. They have 17 points and a tricky fixture against Steinitz B in the final round. They have all to play for in the final round as they would want to be promoted as League champions.

In the second position, however, lies UWC on 16 points who needs to beat Bellville to secure promotion. Steinitz B and CPUT A both have 14 points. Steinitz B cannot be promoted due to league rules so CPUT will be hoping to defeat Mitchell’s Plain by a big score and hope that Bellville defeats UWC. On tiebreak UWC has 40.5 points and CPUT 36.5. UWC thus has a lead of four points if they should tie on 16 points. UWC should however have the better if the Bellville team and of course once they score 3 then it means that their game points will be better and of course a 3-3 result will push them to 17 points. They are however playing for glory because they would hope Steinitz B beats Elsies River thus allowing UWC to pip Elsies River to the title. So, it’s all set for the seventh!!

4. Analysis of the Premier Section

Cape Town lost 8-0 in the morning match. This was unexpected as Cape Town has been having some close results. The students restored with all their stars in this round and proceeded to give lessons to Cape Town. It was good to also see Mr Llewellin Jegels who was playing in the league for the second week. He is a publisher by profession and also a lecturer at UCT at and UWC, he played for Manyanani in the early years and in later years he was fierce competitor for Grassy Park. He is also a top Scrabble player for WP and SA.

GrassyPark beat Blackjacks 5-3. This was a surprise result as I thought Blackjacks was stronger but, on the day, Grassy Park was more determined.

Manyanani drew with Bellville 4-4. The top three of Manyanani all won and on Bellville’s side the

bottom three won. I was surprised to see David Baxters time fall in the middle game!

Mitchell’s Plain beat Belhar Knights 7-1.

MRL lost to African Chess Lounge 4.5 to 3.5. This was a huge result because at that time MRL (together with Steinitz ) were the only unbeaten teams in the league. On board one FM Calvin Klaasen battled with IM Watu Kobese. Kobese essayed the Kings Indian Defence and after much trials and tribulations Klaasen lost a knight in the centre. But he had enough pawns as compensation and Kobese and Klaasen drew which secured the match for ACL

On board two ACL had imported an old Boland player Marc Sculler from Switzerland. Marc Schuller stayed in Paarl around 2005 and played for Stellenbosch. Marc attended the same chess school as Watu in Germany thirty years ago. Marc beat Adv Maxwell Solomon in a well-played game.

On board three Bernard Klein played a good game and then had to show superb technique to beat Daud Amini. Klein mated Amini with Bishop and Knight which we know is not easy. He found the correct squares to restrict the Black king and Amini graciously allowed the mate. It shows the younger players that you must study these positions because that point was vital for the match.

I was impressed with the game of Lutho Mfazwe who beat Justin Lynch. He sacrificed his queen to get a few minor pieces with lots of play still left in the game. Mfazwe however found the absolute correct squares for his pieces and slowly started to outplay his opponent!

So, there it was MRL losing to fellow abbreviate ACL (yes, I made up that word!). Now the interesting thing was that ACL had earlier in their league campaign lost to Blackjacks and drawn with Cape Town. This meant that on points they had dropped points to the lower ranked clubs that both MRL and Steinitz had beaten handsomely, but a win is a win.

The match between Steinitz and Stellenbosch turned out unexpectedly to be anti-climax. Now remember I drove 400 kilometres at 3:45am to be at this match. As captain I have a responsibility to lead my team and ensure that we have stability in the middle order where I play. So, I was surprised when I saw that Veroe September who normally plays board three play on board one. Adv Freek Geyer informed our president that his top players were not available. The score was 7-1 in favour of Steinitz. Two draws were made on board one and board three but for the rest Steinitz triumphed.

In the afternoon rounds the excitement was palpable as Steinitz had to play ACL. But let’s first look at the other matches. UCT beat Stellenbosch 5.5 to 2.5.

MRL beat Belhar Knights 7-1. Mitchell’s Plain beat Bellville 7-1 with Mitchell’s Plain only dropping two draws.

Manyanani beat Blackjacks 5-3. On the top board Cherwin Kleinsmidt beat Dr Shabier Bhawoodien in a well-played game. He sent us the score which he adds here. It was a Schielemann defence.

Grassy Park and Cape Town drew 4-4. So, let’s focus on the top match between ACL and Steinitz.

On board one IM Watu Kobese was paired against Michael James. This was a big game for Michael because any point, half or full will do Steinitz a great favour! So, he was playing the black pieces. Kobese, through to form sacrificed a knight determinedly. In a sharp Sicilian Kobese played Nf5 with the black own on e6 and when Michael James refused to accept the gift Kobese played Nxg7 which is known as a corkscrew move! So, the battle was on and it was fire. I give the game here for your following. Michael was the Minister of Defence and repeatedly found the only move! He drew the game and we were extremely happy with that result!

Black captured on b3 instead of recapturing Kobese captured Nxg7!

On board two Craig Willenberg was determined to put his opponent to the sword. He played a nice line which forced his opponent to forfeit castling early and then in a flurry of activity he sacrificed a bishop to open the king. Willenberg beat March Schuller from Switzerland who we know had come with no peaceful intentions!

On board three Bouah neutralised Daud with his Alekhine’s Defence and with this draw kept the

scoreboard ticking. Now scoreboard pressure is important because the strategy before the match was to try to neutralise their top four and score with the bottom four boards. This had now worked because on the first three board the score was 2/3 for Steinitz.

Ethan lost two point early on against Salimu and Salimu gave a superb lesson in technique! And from there Steinitz dominated, Kenny Willenberg playing on board five played the Mar Del Plata against Mfazwe and was soon seen pushing his pawns on the g and h files. Willenberg then carried the attack and the game ended early in the middle game with the white king basically being mated on f3 with the black pawns! Kenny lost in round one, drew the second game and thereafter won 8 in a row!

On board six Andreas De Jager continued his strong run of form with a unique mate! He sacrificed his queen against Goredema and then mated him using his knight and rook! Well done Andreas!

Queen to f8 check!!

On board seven older brother Luan De Jager and his opponent Martin Nkuna was playing a bad gambit game where their chances for both sides!! Of course, Luan knew that a victory in the match would get Steinitz closer to their title defence and did not mind his drawn game.

On board 8 Glenn Willenberg blew his opponent away when he defeated Kian Blows. Willenberg played superbly with his English Opening outplaying his opponent with superb queenside technique.

The score was thus 5.5 to 2.5 in the favour of Steinitz against African Chess Lounge (ACL).

Steinitz is lying first with 19 points having had one drawn match (against MRL) and then winning the other nine. They also have 60 game points.

In second position is MRL with 17 points who have drawn one match ( against Steinitz ) and lost to ACL and they have also accumulated 56.5 game points

In third position is African Chess Lounge with 15 points who must be ruing their loss to Blackjacks and draw with Cape Town. They have 46.5 points

At the bottom of the log Belhar Knights gets the wooden spoon while the last two spots are made up on Blackjacks on 5 points and Bellville on 6 points. So, Bellville has the tougher ask because they must play MRL who will be itching for victory to secure second place and continue to place pressure on Steinitz who must play Belhar Knights in the final round. Blackjacks must play Mitchell’s Plain who sits on 7 points. Anything is possible in that match. Grassy Park is also on seven and has to play UCT. So, there is a quite a lot to play for in the final round! Manyanani also has seven points and they play Cape Town who is already on 9 points.

Mr Murray Steenkamp has sent me some interesting stats! He has analysed the age differences between the players in some of the divisions and also sent me the board prize situations. Enjoy the reading! I shall be analysing the board prizes at the end of round eleven!

Regards

Dr Lyndon Bouah

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