The Elsies River Chess Club was crowned Western Cape A-Division champions at the Wilderness Hotel in George on Sunday. Pictured are Waylon Preston, Charlton Mnyasta, Tezihano Mnyasta, Eugene Steenkamp.
The Elsies River Chess Club was crowned Western Cape A-Division champions at the Wilderness Hotel in George on Sunday. Pictured are Waylon Preston, Charlton Mnyasta, Tezihano Mnyasta, Eugene Steenkamp.

Elsies River club crowned chess champions

By Odwa Mkentane Time of article published Oct 21, 2021

Share this article:

CAPE TOWN - The Covid-19 pandemic has somehow been a blessing in disguise for the Elsies River Chess Club, the newly-crowned Western Cape A-Division champions.

The club, which consists of plus-minus 20 active members mostly under the age of 20, is based at the local Elsies River Library and was established in 1978.

Evidence of its progress shows as the club was crowned winners of the B-Division in the 2019 provincial league and National Chess Club Championship.

Development officer of Elsies River Club, Eugene Steenkamp, said the Covid-19 pandemic brought new challenges to the club, but it was somehow a blessing in disguise for them as their chess improved substantially due to the time spent indoors.

“This is a remarkable achievement as the winning points in all the games were scored by three teenagers from 16th Avenue Leonsdale, Elsies River. These kids are 16 years of age and live in the same notorious street. They have proven that it is possible to rise above your circumstances and perform on the big stages of the sport. These youngsters have a story to tell, and their journey has been remarkable.

“Western Cape is the strongest chess region in South Africa, which makes us one of the top clubs in South Africa. Our youngsters are encouraged to go on to the highest level, as this success gives a lot of confidence. Our members are mostly from the poor and gang-infested areas within Elsies River.

“Our plan is to develop our players to become national champions, get education bursaries through chess, and eventually, become grandmasters,” said Steenkamp.

Transport to tournaments, entry fees for tournaments, proper attire, data and equipment are some of the challenges the club faces.

Charlton Nyaspa, 16, who has been playing chess for more than five years said his dream is to become grandmaster and inspire the youth in his area.

“I am very proud that our club has won. It was a very tough competition, but we managed to get through despite the difficulties we faced. Our team is very dedicated, focused and hard-working.

“Being part of the Chess Club has saved me from many things, including not being involved in drugs and gangsterism. I am always indoors, especially during the week with my cousins, practising and then again on weekends we practice as a team. Chess keeps me away from the streets. Kids must engage themselves in such sports so as to enhance their thinking ability and skills,” said Charlton.

To assist the club, Steenkamp can be contacted on 082 807 3029.

Cape Times

Share this article: