Celebrating Excellence: Reflections on the SA Closed Chess Championships

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The South African Closed Chess Championships have seen remarkable developments in recent years, notably with the introduction of the Over Fifty section in 2017. This addition has brought new vigor to the tournament, showcasing the enduring passion and skill of experienced players.

Among the champions in this category, names like PM Mark Lewis, Advocate CM Maxwell Solomon, and Hans Steyn stand out as legendary in the chess community. Their victories symbolize the depth of talent within South Africa’s chess field, and also highlights their individual skills.

South Africa’s representation in international events such as the Olympiad and the World Senior Championships further highlights the country’s commitment to promoting chess excellence across all age groups. Players like Dr Shabier Bhawoodien, Dr Andrew Southey, and Cecil Ohlson have proudly carried the nation’s flag on these prestigious platforms, showcasing their skills on a global stage.

However, amidst these successes, there are reflections on missed opportunities. The disruption caused by the COVID pandemic, leading to the premature end of the Olympiad and affecting travel plans, serves as a reminder of the challenges faced by the chess community globally.

Looking ahead, there is anticipation for upcoming events, including the qualifiers for Krakow, Poland, and the provisionally planned Over Fifty section in Portugal. These events not only offer a platform for competitive chess but also promote the unity, oneness and collaboration among players from different backgrounds.

One can not help but wonder about the potential for a continental event in Africa, bringing together senior officials, corporate executives, and chess enthusiasts from across the continent. Such an initiative could not only elevate the profile of chess in Africa but also provide a unique opportunity for networking and cultural exchange.

As we celebrate the achievements of our champions and look forward to the future of chess in South Africa and beyond, let us continue to support and nurture the spirit of excellence and the friendship and unity in the chess community.

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