Capetown-150707-Watu Kobese the Author of the Xhosa chess book Masidlale uthimba during the launch of the book at Cape Sun Hotel-BHEKI RADEBE

Sandiso Phaliso

THE development of the first isiXhosa chess terminology book in the country, titled Masidlale Uthimba, aims to help end the stereotype that the game is foreign and can only be played by a select few and the wealthy.

That is according to the author Watu Kobese, at the launch of the book at the SA Chess Open in the city yesterday.

The 27-page book, which was written in the period of a year, was developed and verified by the Western Cape Provincial Language Forum for the translation of the chess terms to become standardised, before it was was launched.

The book is an effort between Kobese and the provincial department of Cultural Affairs and Sport.

Kobese said the book was not on the shelves as yet and a price has not been determined, but the first 200 copies would be distributed to various chess clubs countrywide.

One of Africa’s strongest players, Kobese is a South African chess International Master champion and a trainer. He has won the SA Closed three times and the SA Open twice before becoming an international master in 2005.

He represented South Africa in the Chess Olympiad for eight years between 1992 and 2010. He said he wrote the book to inspire people to start playing chess at a very young age, as he did when he was four in Soweto.

“I did have some challenges and one of them was that I struggled to get accreditation for the book.

“The Western Cape department supported me in writing this book and I am grateful.”

Kobese said he wrote eight other books in South African indigenous languages, but the books have not been published as no department was willing to accredit them.

“The first book I wrote is in isiZulu, and I translated it to other indigenous languages.”

Cultural Affairs and Sport MEC Anroux Marais said the development of the book would enable isiXhosa-speaking people to know more about chess. “We are grateful that the book has been launched in this province. We are proud.”

Dr Omar Esau, president of SA Schools Chess, explained countries in Europe were champions because they had written many chess books in their own languages.

“I was thinking why the Russians always beat us in this game – it’s because they are learning the game from books written in their own language,” said Esau.

[email protected]