On 10 December 2022, Steinitz Chess Club hosted its annual awards ceremony in Kraaifontein. Allow me to take you down memory lane. I have been playing for Steinitz since 1996. I first heard of Steinitz in 1987 when they won the title of best club at the Chess Association for the People of South Africa (CAPSA) Open held every Easter.
Hiran Peterson told me about the club that had a whole family (the Willenbergs!) and was very strong. In 1991 when I moved to Cape Town, I joined Bellville South Chess Club, and I revived the University of the Western Cape Chess Club. Over the weekends though, I spent time in Bonteheuwel and Heideveld playing blitz with the Steinitz guys.
It was in November 1976 that four high school students came together in Kalksteenfontein, a suburb of Bonteheuwel and started playing the odd game against each other. Later in 1977 they decided to form a club. They were school friends who decided that since they were playing together every day in any event then perhaps, they should form a club. After much debate they called themselves Steinitz Chess Club after the first chess world champion. By this time their number had grown to 6. The first members of the club were: Nazeem Majiet (its first chairperson), Ebrahim Ortell, Mark Lewis, Jeremy Lewis, Andrew Talmarkes and Norman Mcqueen. The first club competition was won by Norman Mcqueen. This weekend the club also awarded honorary membership to Roland Willenberg, Shaun Willenberg, Andrew Talmarkes, Mark Lewis and Glenn Willenberg.
Mark Lewis then met Roland Willenberg at Spes Bona High School. This meeting was a turning point in the history of the club. Roland had many brothers and with Roland came Glen and Shaun. The players affiliated the club with the Western Province Chess Association (WPCA). The WPCA had recently broken away from the white Western Province Chess Union to form a non-racial chess body after instances of racism against black and coloured players and to oppose the apartheid regime.
The players went on to play in the WPCA league from 1979 and their first match was against Elsies River Chess club. No one in the club had a vehicle in those days so club members at the time simply walked over ten kilometres to the other chess clubs to fulfil their league fixtures. That is dedication of the highest order. The players grew in strength and from the mid-1980s started to assert themselves. They won the WPCA league four times in the 1980s.
In the early 1990’s the political situation was very fluid in the sport movement. The club observed the first Unity tournament in 1991 and did not participate in it. In 1992 the club decided to assist in the formation of a unified chess body in Western Province. The unified body was established and in 1992 the first unified league was played. This was a very historic time because it was the first time in nearly two decades that organised chess matches were played between white and black chess clubs.
In 1993, in the second year of unity in Cape Town, Steinitz Chess Club won the unified league for the first time. For the chess club from Bonteheuwel this represented a new high. The club was featured in various newspapers including the Argus and the South newspapers which was an anti-government newspaper which followed the fortunes of the people of the Cape Flats. This heralded a new high for the club as it went on a recruiting drive which grew the club exponentially.
Steinitz Chess Club has been at the forefront of the transformation within chess. In the late 1990’s Roland Willenberg adopted youngsters from Gugulethu who came to spend weekends with him at his then home in Belhar. These youngsters included Vuzumzi April, Thando Sentile and Kwando Kaso. They later made the WP junior teams and Kwanda Kaso also won the 1997 WP Open.
As the years developed, the club started to attract players from all communities. Today Steinitz is proud of its non-racial character with players residing from Durbanville to Bellville and various other parts of Cape Town. Steinitz has always focused on developing its players and does not mind having younger players on the top boards. These players tend to develop faster when they are exposed to stronger competition even at the cost of a league point or two.
The club participates in every WP, Western Cape and Chessa event. Its members travel and traverse South Africa to participate and compete in events. Steinitz Chess Club boasts at least 8 professional chess coaches who also serve as WP coaches, and the club boasts many registered arbiters.
The Steinitz Chess Club has had phenomenal success within Chess Western Province (CWP). It has won the CWP league in 1993, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2006, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2018, 2019 and 2022 (no over the board league in 2020, 2021 due to COVID-19), within the unified period since 1992. The twelve league victories are a tremendous success for the club, and it is tremendously proud of these victories. In 2013 in one of its finest hours Steinitz won the A division, the B and C divisions!
The club was runner up seven times in the WP Team league in the following years, 1999, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012. It achieved the bronze medal position in the years 2000, 2015 and 2017. It has thus achieved podium position in 22 out of 28 league seasons. A great return for any club. (It won the online WP League in 2020).
The club also won the Ample African Club Championship in 2014 that was held at the Strand Holiday Inn. The CWP league has been something that Steinitz Chess Club is passionate about. I first played for Steinitz in 1996 when I made my debut. I played one of my best games in Steinitz colours when I defeated the three-time SA Closed Champion (the late) Piet Kroon in 1996. In the game I sacrificed a knight on move 9, and later the exchange and a bishop. In 1997 I played one game for Steinitz in the league and returned to Port Elizabeth to complete my articles in law.
I then returned to Cape Town only around 1998 and immediately rejoined Steinitz as the board one. I was then able to hold down board one with a string of strong players such as Mark Lewis, Kenny and Craig Willenberg, Ashley Schuller, Athon, Roland and Glen Willenberg providing the necessary back up.
We were perennial achievers in the league and over the last 28 years Steinitz has fielded the strongest teams in every match where the players are available. The players are passionate about playing for Steinitz and we give our very best at every match.
In the Western Cape Chess Championships, Steinitz has won the Western Cape Club Championships every year between 2012 and 2019. This is an incredible eight in a row! In 2021 Steinitz lost its title when it lost to Elsies River. Steinitz ended joint second in that event with Blackjacks. In 2022 Manyanani won the event with Steinitz coming in second.
On the national scene Steinitz has won the South African National Club Chess Championship eight times in the following years 2003, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2019. It was also runner up on a number of occasions. In all of these I participated, and I am justly proud to have been part of the team. It was also a privilege and honour to be captain of the club when it achieved these successes.
Steinitz has been a club that has won the WP Team Blitz championships 19 times in the following years 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015 2016 and 2019. This is a phenomenal record!
In 2017 the event was not held and in 2018 the club came second behind Stellenbosch. In 2019 the WP Blitz event was held as part of the Cape Town Classic. The Steinitz A team won this part of the event but lost the combined blitz and rapid to MRL in March 2019. One of the things that have made me proud to be a member of Steinitz Chess Club has been the fact that we organize an annual event in the name of our club. The Steinitz Open was first held in 2007
when Steinitz celebrated its 30th anniversary. The event was exciting and was played at the Claremont Chess Club in Rondebosch. The event was held at the existing chess club and in the minor hall at the library. This first edition was won by the then IM and now Grandmaster Kenny Solomon.
All the top players at the time participated in the event. There were some nice prizes and wine holders at the event. We then as Steinitz Chess Club started the event again in 2012 when we continued with the 35th anniversary. The event was held at Settlers High School and was very interesting and exciting because our own Craig Willenberg ran away with the laurels after beating his opponents and also helping out in the tuck-shop! The event then moved to the Curro Primary School at Century City in 2013. Here we had different sections and filled the whole hall as well as some of the classrooms as well. The event was won by IM Watu Kobese. Watu loves Open Swiss events. He plays exciting and attacking chess. One has to be on guard the whole time because one slight mistake and Kobese is attacking. The Lion of Africa is always dangerous!
In 2014 Steinitz launched something that had not been attempted for a long time. It organized a Grandmaster section as well as Open section. The event attracted grandmasters from around the world. The event was won by Grandmaster Aleksa Strikovic (Serbia) who ended ahead of hometown favourite (then IM) now GM Kenny Solomon. Other notable players in that event included GM Sergey Kasparov (Belarus) and WGM Katya Toma (Poland and now England) and GM Niaz Murshed (Bangladesh)
In 2015 the Steinitz event was again held at Curro and this time the Prestige Section was easily won
by Grandmaster Strikovic (Serbia). In 2016 the event was won by Daud Amini who ended on 5/6 edging out CM Chiletso Chipanga from Malawi and Kenny Willenberg who was on 4.5/6. In 2017 the event attracted Grandmaster Sahaj Grover from India who won the event with some good play. I enjoyed my game against him and probably could’ve drawn but went for glory and lost! Steinitz was able to attract some top women players. This event was held in Bellville South.
In late March 2018 the Steinitz Chess Club hosted its annual club event which this year was a FIDE rated event. We were very happy to host the three-time African Junior champion Angolan IM David Silva. The event was well contested and was ultimately won by three players IM Watu Kobese, IM Mohammed Henry Steel and Craig Willenberg. They scored 6/7.
The 2019 Steinitz Open organised to celebrate the 42nd anniversary of the club ended in a great victory for IM Watu Kobese. The event had four sections and was well contested.
In 2020 and 2021 we did not host the annual Steinitz event but in 2022 I won the event with Kenny Willenberg on 5/6. I had the better tiebreak than Kenny and quite enjoyed the event. There were over 200 players.
The Steinitz Premier team won the 2022 in a fine display of team chess. The Steinitz Premier league
team played 11 matches as the event is contested as a twelve team round robin. The Premier team
won 10 matches and lost one against Manyanani who came second. This was an excellent showing
by the Premier team.
In the last three years of over the board league chess (2018,2019 and 2022) Steinitz A has lost only
one single classical team match in the WP league.
They have played 33 matches in the WP league and have the following statistics:
Played – 33
Drawn – 4 (MRL 2019, Blackjacks, ACL, Stellenbosch in 2018)
Won – 28
Lost – 1 to Manyanani
The full Premier team that played in the Chess WP league 2022 consisted of:
Board 1 – Craig Willenberg 5/8
Board 2 – Lyndon Bouah 5.5/7
Board 3 –Kenny Willenberg 5/10
Board 4- Ethan Samuels 8/11 (board prize)
Board 5 – Andreas de Jager 8.5/11
Board 6 – Luan de Jager 8.5/11 (board prize)
Board 7 – Regan Palmer 8/8 (undefeated) (board prize)
Board 8- Mark Lewis 4/5 (undefeated third year in a row)
Board 9 – Ashley Schuller 10/11 (undefeated) (board prize)
Board 10 – Paul Khuphwathea 3/4
Board 11 – Glen Willenberg 2/2
I want to give a special shout out to my friend Mark Lewis. There was a particular Saturday when
Steinitz was going to be short a player in the A section. He then decided to leave his hospital bed and
come play the two games where we needed him. He ultimately ended up playing five games and
scored 4/5 (3 wins and 3 draws to assist the cause! Well done Mark. You have shown dedication and
commitment beyond the call of duty.
The 2022 edition of the popular Western Cape Club Championship took place in October 2022 in Cape Town. The event consisted of three sections. Each section had teams of four competing to be the best chess team in the Western Cape.
The winners of the Western Cape Club Champs over the last few years are:
SA Club Chess Championship
I have discussed this matter in some depth elsewhere but since 2019 was the last time it was held; I shall include some statistics. The South African Club Championship is an important event. The winners for the past few years have
Steinitz Premier team Stats. Let’s look at the Steinitz Premier team victories over the last few years:
• The 2017 Western Cape Club championship was played in March 2018. Steinitz won 6/6
• The 2018 CWP league had 11 matches of which 3 were drawn and 8 won.
• The 2018 Western Cape club championship – Steinitz scored 6/6
• In the 2019 CWP league the Steinitz team played 11 matches (drew one and won 10)
• In the 2019 Western Cape club championship Steinitz played 6 and won 6
• In the 2019 SA Club Championship Steinitz played 6 and won 6.
• In the 2021 Western Cape Club Championship Steinitz played 6, of which it won 4, lost one and
• In 2022 at the Western Cape Club Championship Steinitz played 6, of which it lost one, won 3
and drew 2.
• In the 2022 CWP league the club played 11 matches, won 10 and lost one
So, the stats for the few three years of classical time control adding the 2017 Western Cape Club
Played – 69 matches
Drawn – 7 matches
Won – 59 matches
Lost – 3 matches
A 91% win percentage
Congratulations to Kenny Willenberg who played in the A section of the SA Closed in 2022 and held his own. Together with his other achievements, he was named Steinitz player of the year.
Congratulations are also in order to Mark Lewis who ended up winning the Senior Section at the SA Closed 2022 without ever being in trouble!
Well done to WIM Denise Bouah who represented South Africa for the 8th time at an Olympiad when she played 10/11 games at the Chennai Olympiad in India in July 2022. Denise was recognised as the 2022 Sportswoman of the year Award by Steinitz Chess Club and also in the previous week by Chess Western Province.
She is also the first female player to win the Steinitz Club Championship and was crowned Steinitz Club Champion 2022. In addition, Denise was recognized as the 2022 Community Builder of the year for her work with Dr Queenie’s Chess Academy for women and girls.
Not to be out done, Jacques Frick won the Spirit Award for always sending memes and uplifting messages to the teams.
An interesting award was also the Chess Innovation award which went to Craig Willenberg who co-created the Paradigm 30 Chess variant.
The newcomer of the year award was won by the Steinitz Junior E team who won their division.
The administrator of the year award was won by Amina Ebrahim.
Full list of 2022 Steinitz Chess Club 45th Anniversary Awards
Award Category Recipient/s
• Junior Sportsmen MJ Strydom
• Junior Sportswoman Sophia Hagen
• Senior Player of the Year Mark Lewis
• Coach of the Year Craig Willenberg
• Media Award Lyndon Bouah
• Administrator of the Year Amina Ebrahim
• Initiative Amina Ebrahim
• Spirit Award Jacques Frick
• Community Builder Award Denise Bouah
• Technical Excellence Andrew Talmarkes
• Honorary Life Membership Andrew Talmarkes, Mark Lewis, Roland Willenberg,
Glenn Willenberg, Shaun Willenberg
• Player of the Year Kenny Willenberg
• Female Sportswoman of the Year Denise Bouah
• Club Champion Denise Bouah
• Team of the Year Premier Team
• Newcomer of the Year Steinitz E Team
• Innovator Award Craig Willenberg
• President’s Commendation Ashley Schuller, Luan de Jager & Andreas de Jager
I feel a sense of camaraderie when I play for Steinitz. In every game I want to give my all. The players have shown themselves dedicated, committed and conduct themselves as champions. I am proud to wear the colours of Steinitz. Every player is a member of my extended family. We have upheld the principles of Gens Una Sumus.
Grandmaster Kenny Solomon attended the awards ceremony as a special guest on the Saturday afternoon. He gave a short speech in which he indicated that he always admired the team spirit of Steinitz. His club Mitchells Plain always had a good rivalry with Steinitz, and he always wondered why Steinitz always wins. He put it down the team spirit that is prevalent within the club. Thanks, GM Kenny, for making the Steinitz Annual Awards even more special.