Reflections (3) on Chess Western Province League by Dr Lyndon Bouah


To get to the Proteaville Recreational Centre, I had to turn down Kasselsvlei Road in Bellville South. This area has played a pivotal part in my life and in the chess history of South Africa. In 1989 I won the South African Senior Schools Championship in Paarl. This allowed me to qualify for my first ever South African Closed championship. This SA Closed was held at the Bellville South Library in Kasselsvlei road. FM Dr Deon Solomons won the event and I also gained a top place finish.

In 1991 when I started my studies at the University of the Western Cape, I joined both UWC and Bellville South chess clubs. Bellville South Chess club was a member of the Western Province chess Association. In April 1991, Bellville South left the WPCA after it started unity talks with the establishment chess federation. Bellville South was led by Berte Van Wyk, now Professor, who then invited representatives of the various chess bodies to come to the Bellville South library in June 1991 to have unity discussions.

This led to the first match between Cape Town and Bellville South/UWC combined team. We lost heavily but the match was significant because for the first time in South African history after 1976 two clubs from different communities and the political divide played against each other.

At Bellville South we had an extensive development programme. We resuscitated Elsies River chess club and started chess clubs in Kraaifontein and various other areas. One of my fondest memories however was the influx of youngsters from the Athlone school of the Blind. One of the graduates of that school, Melvyn Lucas, later won a medal at the World Braille Chess Olympiad around 2003/2004. Berte Van Wyk was the driving force for unity in South African chess and recognition at FIDE level which we attained on 22 June 1992.

I enjoyed those Tuesday visits to Bellville South Chess Club. Members of the club included Virgil Fritz who now heads Capablanca chess club and Samuel Leenderts who is now doing great chess work in the Kraaifontein area. His youngsters from his school provide a strong base to Kraaifontiein chess club. I would get a lift to Bellville South to Berte’s house where would first have sandwiches and coffee. These things were important for a young and hungry student such as me. We would then walk over to the club. When we completed the evening at the club, I would get a lift back with Mr. A. He was a salt of the earth guy and he stayed in Belhar. He christened one of his sons Alekhine so somewhere in Cape Town Mr. Alekhine A is making a living. Before we however left Bellville South, Mike would always stop at a house in the back streets to pick up a parcel. I never really knew what this parcel was, but I think the late Mike would be pleased to know the Constitutional Court has legalised that parcel!

A few streets away from where Berte lived the former secretary of Chessa, Mrs Marcelle Agulhas stays. She celebrated, I am sure, her 25th birthday recently! Happy Birthday Marcelle. She was for a period of about 6 years the secretary of Chessa and her address was the domicilium for Chessa. Her son and daughter both played and play chess and are doing well. So, unity was forged in Bellville South and then two decades later chess administration was promoted!

When I got to the Proteaville Recreational Centre I remembered some great events that has been held there. We hosted the first ever African Chess Club Championships that was hosted by WP and organised by Mark Lewis, Eldo Smart and me in 2010. The Egyptian grandmasters Amin Bassem and

Ahmed Adly both participated and won for their club El Daklia. Steinitz also hosted one of their Steinitz Open a few years ago. Grandmaster Grover won that event. We have also played previous leagues here as well.

When I got to the venue last week, I was happy to see many old friends as well. I saw Mr. Fasiegh Manie who is making a comeback after retiring as principal of Lavendar Hill High School after dramatically changing the school. He changed the school by introducing after school programmes, a gym by Virgin Active and they recently acquired an AstroTurf. He was one of my first opponents in the unified league in 1992. Next to him was Mr. Deon Pick who represented South Africa at the World Seniors in Germany last year.) Mr Manie mentioned to me at the second day of the league that the opening theory has evolved since the early 1990’s when he played!

One of the best things about the league is the strength of the players that come out to play. The following Olympians are all playing in the league:

1.    CM Advocate Maxwell Solomon (MRL) 1992, 1994 and 2000 plays for MRL.

2.    CM Dr Lyndon Bouah (Steinitz) 1992 and 1994 plays for Steinitz

3.    IM Watu Kobese (1994-2018) he only missed 2002 and plays for ACL.

  • IM Donovan Van Den Heever (first Olympiad in 2006 and most recently in 2018) plays for Manyanani.
  • FM Calvin Klaasen the co SA Closed Champion who played in the Olympiad in 2016 and played in 2018 and plays for MRL.
  • Robyn van Niekerk 2014 Olympiad plays for MRL.
  • WCM Rebecca Selkirk who played in the 2018 Olympiad and plays for Stellenbosch
  • 8.  WFM Lauren Willenberg (nee Van Niekerk) played the 2016 Olympiad and plays for UWC.
  • WIM Dr. Denise Bouah (nee Frick) who played her first Olympiad in 2000 and has played in seven Olympiads overall. She plays for Steinitz.
  1. WIM Adv Anzel Laubscher played for Steinitz yesterday. She made her Olympiad debut in 1998 and has played in seven Olympiads.
  1. 11.  IM David Gluckman is registered for Cape Town and made his Olympiad debut in1992,
  1. Michelle Fisher played both games for Bellville yesterday and played in her first Olympiad in Norway in 2014.
  1. Paul Khupwathea represented Malawi on two occasions at the Olympiad and plays for Steinitz.
  1. FM Joseph (the Fear!) Mwale played at various Olympiads for Malawi.
  1. IM Mohamed Henry Steel played both games for Stellenbosch on Day two of the league and made his Olympiad debut in 2008.

The following SA Senior Protea team members are also playing;

Mark Lewis – over fifty SA Champion – Steinitz

Gordon Lawrence – Over 65 SA Champion Manyanani

FM Shabier Bhawoodien – the first SA world Champion who won the World Amateur Chess Championship in 2004. He plays for Manyanani

Cecil Ohlson from Grassy Park

Deon Pick from Manayani

Hisham Essop is the SA Under 20/23 Champion and plays for UCT.

Cherwin Kleinsmidt won the SA Closed B section and plays for Blackjacks.

Megan Van Niekerk won the zone 4.3 championship in 2018 and plays for MRL

Dr. Andrew Southey won the 2018 Senior Commonwealth Championship in India and plays for Stellenbosch.

The arbiter Murray Steenkamp sent me some interesting statistics about last week. Let’s see what he says:

  1. The number of games that will be played over the eleven rounds (9 rounds for the development section with their 30 teams)






Total 2256 games played over two months.

  • Of the 330 development players registered in the E section 75% is under 20 and 25% is female.
  • After the first day of the league (two rounds and three in the E) the ratio of the Premier

white wins:         41%

Black wins: 36%

Draws:                  18%

Forfeit:                 1 %

Development (E) –

White wins:        48 %

Black wins: 33%

Draws:                  4 %

Forfeit:                 15%

So, a very low drawing percentage is as expected in the development section as both players play all out for the win regardless of material! Ah the good old days!

The youngest player of the League day One was the 6-year-old Jean Maritz from Bellville Chess Club.

The oldest player was Professor Johannes Cruywagen (85) from Stellenbosch chess club.

The biggest upset on Day one of the league was Rishay Thakarsee (1490) beating Dione Goredema (1871).

Thanks Murray.

The arbiter Murray Steenkamp also sent me some interesting statistics about this week. Let’s see what he says:

We played a lot of games (4 rounds for the round robin and 6 for the Development Swiss):


The C section had no forfeits yesterday. Premier and B had no forfeits in the 4th round. All other sections’ forfeits reduced:

As expected, is the number of draws much higher in the higher sections. And the White win percentage is much higher in the Development section.

We had 33 teams yesterday in the Development section – up from the 30 in the previous week.

Interesting observation in the Development section’s last two rounds yesterday:

Black had a higher win ratio in round 5 than white and the same win ratio than white in round 6. The draw ratio is also on its highest. Probably due to strength versus strength in the later rounds of a Swiss tournament.

Rating versus Age:

The following graph indicates the average rating of the players per age. It is very erratic, and it looks at the average. Remember we have 700+ players of which a lot is only social players. But there is somewhat of an upward trend – the older, the wiser…

Premier section

Forfeits reduced – teams are probably nicely settled now

The draws increased dramatically to 27% – a long day for the players.

White wins in round 2 was very high and so was black’s wins in round 1. It settled down to the “norm” yesterday.

Biggest upset: Let’s rather ignore Henry Steel’s cell phone issue… After that it would be Istvan Gyongy (1544) winning Rebecca Selkirk (1846).

Youngest player was the 6-year-old Jean Maritz from Bellville Club. Oldest player was the 85-year-old Johannes Cruywagen from Stellenbosch.

Thanks Murray.

Let’s get to the results for Day Two of the Chess Western Province league

1. Division E

In round four Kraaifontein and Crossroads played to 2-2 result, while Simonstown Military A team beat Blackjacks 2.5 to 1.5. 2knights A beat Drakenstein 4-0. The games as we know are fast paced no quarter asked or given. As we are in the military speak of things the ranking list after six rounds reveal the following standings:

1. Simons Town Military A is leading with five wins and one draw.

  • 2.  Crossroads C is second with 4 wins and two drawn matches,
  • Blackjacks C has won 4 matches, lost one and drawn one.

We will soon be reaching the end of the development section with two clubs being promoted to the D division.

2. Division D

In this division Kraaifontein B is leading having won all their matches thus far. UCT C is lying second with three wins and one drawn match. Crossroads B is also lying joint second with UCT so it will be tight race in this division.

3. Division C

Kraaifontein A is leading here with four victories. They have experienced campaigners on their side.

UWC B has three match wins and one drawn match. It is going to be a close finish in this section.

Kraaifontein is making a push to win two divisions!

4. Division B

The round three clashes in the morning were very interesting. WIM Denise Bouah led Steinitz B on board one to a good 5-1 win against Blackjacks B. Bellville B beat Capablanca A 5-1. UWC led by FM Keegan Agulhas beat fellow students CPUT 4.5 to 1.5. Interestingly UWC has two female players in their A team. Crossroads A and UCT B played to a 3-3 draw.

In the afternoon round Steinitz B beat Mitchell’s Plain with the emphatic score of 6-0. Steinitz B this time fielded Glenn Willenberg on one with WIM Anzel Laubscher on two. It is commendable that both WIM Denise Bouah and WIM Anzel Laubscher is doing duty for their club even in the B team. Stellenbosch B beat GPCA 5-1 while UWC A beat Crossroads 4-2

So, the final standings reveal the following: Elsies River is in the lead with some good victories on their side. Steinitz B is lying second closely followed by UWC A.

5. Division A

Round three produced some exciting chess. It was pleasing to see IM Mohammed Henry Steel playing top board for Stellenbosch in the WP league. Steel is one of South Africa’s strongest players and won his first SA Closed in 2007 at the age of 17. He played in a number of Olympiads and he boasts victories over GM Luke McShane (2012 Olympiad) and GM Gata Kamsky at the 2014 Norway Olympiad. In his first game he played against Cherwin Kleinsmidt from Blackjacks. While the game was still somewhere in the middle game, Steel’s phone started emitting sounds. His opponent claimed the point so an unfortunate start to the league for him. In round four Steel however proceeded to give a masterclass in his victory against FM Paul Gluckman. Have a look at the game inserted here.

Stellenbosch beat Blackjacks 4.5 to 3.5.

Belhar Knights fielded seven players in the morning round against UCT and lost 7-1 with only Remondo Solomons winning on top board.

African Chess Lounge beat Bellville 5-3 with Kobese showing strong chess.

In the Manyanani versus Mitchell’s Plain match, the latter brought out Joseph ” the Fear” Mwale. Joseph has been winning events all over South Africa in the last two years and is one of the most active players on the continent. He played board one for Mitchell’s Plain and proceeded to beat IM Donovan van Den Heever. This inspired Mitchell’s Plain who beat Manyanani 5-3. Reggie Wilson 1752 beating Warrick Erlank 2053 was a big upset. Well done Mitchell’s Plain.

In the morning round Steinitz played against Cape Town. Cape Town is a solid team and we had to be careful. We started off nicely with some solid victories and draws. After the third hour of play we were leading 4-1 with three matches left. Micheal James was an exchange down, while Kenny Willenberg and his opponent were involved in time scramble which could go either way. I was playing against young Limpopo talent Nkwadi Mello. He essayed a closed system against my Kings Indian Defence. His position wasn’t bad, but he had a bishop out of my play. I have the privilege of being captain of my team and with that privilege comes responsibilities. Once I assessed that the other games could go either way, I decided to offer my opponent a draw. The draw would ensure that we win the match, and since the event is decided on match points it wouldn’t matter if we won 4.5 to 3.5 or more. He consulted his captain, IM David Gluckman, but David ordered him to play on. Unfortunately, my opponent was now dangerously short of time and since he was down to three minutes, he decided to accept the draw without playing a single move. That secured the match victory and allowed Kenny freedom to play. After many adventures in the time trouble, he mated his opponent to clinch the victory. Captains must appraise themselves of the team situation at all given times. And players must be told what is expected of them. It was good to see Neil Horne playing for Cape Town as well. When Neil is not competing at chess events, he is playing Scrabble with some other chess players! In the league last year Neil called me over to show some bird droppings and he dryly remarked that it must be the Birds opening!

MRL beat Grassy Park 6-2 which was expected.

In the afternoon round my team beat Grassy Park 7.5 to 0.5 which was a big victory for us. On top board for Grassy Park is Hopewell Fakude who is from Gauteng. He played what seemed to me like a Pirc and lost to Micheal James. Hopewell is a former SA Junior champion and is relishing the opportunity to play on top board. On board two five-time SA Junior champion Craig Willenberg beta his opponent in less than ten moves. I am sure his young opponent is kicking himself for missing a little tactic. In an interesting aside of you look quickly at the Steinitz A team then you see two Willenberg brothers, two De Jager brothers and a Bouah husband and wife were teammates! In the Steinitz B team Glenn, Roland and Shaun Willenberg are all playing.

In the MRL match versus Manyanani IM Donovan Van Den Heever beat FM Calvin Klaasen in a well-played game. On board two two legends of the game Dr Shabier Bhawoodien and Adv Maxwell Solomon went head to head! This game had all the elements of a street brawl with attacks on both sides of the board but in the end the two former champions settled on a draw. MRL beat Manayani 4.5 to 3.5.

UCT beat Mitchell’s Plain 5-3 with the Darling boys heading the lead and Reggie Wilson from Mitchell’s Plain continuing his winning ways by beating Hishaam Essop. Paul Darling beat Joseph Mwale in a good encounter.

Stellenbosch beat Cape Town 6-2 with IM steel beating Fm Gluckman. istvan Gyongi beat Rebecca Selkirk in one of the upsets of the day.

Blackjacks showed their strength when they beat ACL 4.5 to 3.5. Blackjacks is a team capable of beating anyone on the day.

Bellville Beat Belhar Knights 6-2 which was an important win for Bellville. Let’s have a look at the standings after round 4:

  1. Steinitz (defending champions) takes the lead by one game point after securing four match victories.
  • 2.  Stellenbosch is lying second with four match victories as well.
  • MRL also has four match victories and is only two game points behind Steinitz.
  • African Chess Lounge is in fourth having dropped one match.
  • I think Blackjacks will now put in a storming run because they have played all four top teams. Watch when they put in some surprise players!
  • Belhar Knights has not won any matches while Cape Town has drawn one and Grassy Park as also won one.

At the start of the league we held a moment of silence for the late Leonard Rietstein who passed away on 2 August 2019. He was the first SA Olympiad captain in 1958 and thereafter to Cuba in 1966 and edited the chess player from 1953 to 1983. He also led the SA chess Federation during this time. Many players will also know him for his significant book the History of chess in South Africa.


Dr Lyndon Bouah


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