Wits launches new garden chess board, hopes to attract more players

The Wits Chess club hosted the Wits Blitz Open tournament on Saturday to officially launch their partnership with Donate-A-Piece.


CHECKMATE: Wits Chess Club former member and Donate-A-Piece co-founder, Denis Ovcina giving the new garden chess board a try. Photo: Litaletu Zidepa

CHECKMATE: Former Wits Chess Club member and Donate-A-Piece ambassador, Denis Ovcina (left) give the new garden chess board at Wits University a try. Photo: Litaletu Zidepa

Wits University is hoping to increase the number of chess players in its local club through the launch of a new outdoor garden chess board.

The new board was launched together with a partnership with Donate-A-Piece at a tournament at the main campus on Saturday.

Tebogo Rabothata, Wits Sports Officer for the Chess club said: “I am so grateful for the opportunity that Donate-A-Piece has given us, I am looking forward to having a great partnership with them.” The organisation is a aimed at increasing participation in the sport and will sponsor the Wits Chess Warriors in their 2015 USSA (University Sports South Africa), campaign this year.

Former Wits Chess Club chairperson, Zweli Mabaso said the club was identified as a potential partner by Donate-A-Piece as a result of its strong performance.

South African cricketer and Donate-A- Piece ambassador Temba Bavuma, told Wits Vuvuzela that “If you look at Wits itself, it has the perfect platform to launch a campaign like this. This will enable a reach of a variety of people and I think it’s a perfect platform to spread the awareness around chess.”

WINNER: Matt Pon was among the winners at the Wits Blitz Tournament. Photo: Litaletu Zidepa

WINNER:  First-year BComm PPE student, Matt Pon, was among the winners at the Wits Blitz Tournament, coming in at second place. Photo: Litaletu Zidepa

The Donate-A-Piece Wits Blitz Open tournament winner Rodwell Maketo took home R1200, while first-year BCom PPE student, Matt Pon won R900. Jefferey Mthetho finished in third place.

Read more about the Wits Chess Club


Chessed for success

Checkmate:  Evasan Chettiar (left) and Seadimo Tlale (right) will represent South Africa at the World University Chess Championships.                Photo: Lameez Omarjee

CHECKMATE: Evasan Chettiar (left) and Seadimo Tlale (right) will represent South Africa at the World University Chess Championships. Photo: Lameez Omarjee

Two Witsies will be competing in the World University Chess Championships in Katowice, Poland, which starts next week.
This is the first time players from the Wits Chess Club have qualified to participate in the international tournament and represent South Africa, says sports officer Tebogo Rabothata.

Teamed up
Seadimo Tlale, 2nd year LLB, is the only woman in a South African team of four. Tlale has played chess for 17 years, since the age of three. Evasan Chettiar, 2nd year BEng, chairperson of the club, whose been playing since grade eight, will also compete.
Both teammates top the University Sports South Africa chess rankings and the Wits team of 65 members. To prepare for the tournament, Chettiar says one can study the style and strategies of opponents provided on online databases. That way, “you can adapt your game based on their strengths and weaknesses”. Other than that, you can just reinforce your own tactics, he says.
Rabothata says he worked hard to find sponsorship for Chettiar and Tlale to go to Poland. The sports department only contributed 25% of the funds. “We’re going overseas and we’re going to represent the university, but they’re only sponsoring us 25%; it should be the whole [amount],” says Chettiar.

“It is the only sport where men and women, and people of different social classes, could compete equally.”

Chettiar and Tlale will both receive South African international colours and University international colours for qualifying. Competitors will play 11 rounds that will be judged for a score out of 11. These points will determine their ranking.

Socially strategic
Tlale founded a chess club to teach chess to primary school boys and girls from a township from her hometown in the Free State. “It was basically about affording them the opportunity to also be exposed to the kind of opportunities I get,” she said.
Both Chettiar and Tlale agree that chess has influenced strategic thinking in different aspects of their lives. “[It] gives you a lot of confidence in your own mental abilities,” says Tlale.
“Every time you make a move there’s a consequence. So it teaches you about how to look for potential consequences for your actions in everyday life,” says Chettiar. Tlale believes chess helps bridge social inequality gaps. She says it is the only sport where men and women, and people of different social classes, could compete equally. “It’s not about who you are or where you come from. It’s literally about what you know.”
Rabothata is proud of his players. He says the chess club will benefit from the experience the two players will gain. “They have won a battle; what is left for them is to go to Poland and win the war.”