The South African Junior Closed Chess Championship 2015 (SAJCC 2015) proved to be a successful outing for not just the African Chess Lounge (ACL) but the Western Province contingent in general. A good number of children from Western Province did very well and earned the right to present South Africa at the upcoming World Youth Chess Championships.
Africa Chess Net had a chance to engage Reuben Salimu, Founder and CEO of African Chess Lounge and one of the team coaches for Western Province in their analysis room at the closed.
We were keen to find out what the secret of the success was as well as to get a better idea of the actual milestones. Following a clearly outlined programme for practice and coaching, a number of junior players have improved significantly in their play under the tutelage of ACL.
What we witnessed was close to a Russian School of chess of sorts. There where two coaches individually preparing kids and handling their individual needs. As soon as they where finished they where assigned to one of the other players to practice their lines. So not only where the kids receiving help from their coaches but they had the chance to help each other.
The level of team spirit in the analysis room and the energy was amazing energy. We are talking kids who each individually are capable of winning their individual sections rubbing off each other’s energy. We saw Keegan Aghullas, Caleb Samuels, Kaylin Fritz, Sam Nathan, Anika Visser and sister Nadine, Naseem Essa, Aiden Weiner, Seth Riley Adams, Luka Elliot, I am sure we are leaving out a few.
Something quite unique was the absence of critical focus on opening analysis. It seemed each child was an expert in what they played and knew it inside out and only needed to verify lines. The preparation was more oriented on game plans and game attitude towards opponent. Opponents games where studied and specific chess weaknesses on the part of the player had been documented in a brown book and the ACL kids went into battle armed with this info. As the rounds where finished every game would be analysed whether won or lost and specific chess weaknesses would be pointed out and criticized . As they finished analysis assistant coach Ricardo Minnaar would be setting and exercising different endgame positions, something I had not witnessed in other analysis areas.
The World Youth and Cadets Championships 2015, to be held under the auspices of FIDE will be held in Halkidiki, Greece from 24-October to 5 November 2015. African Chess Lounge specializes in everything to do with Chess. They believe that chess benefits the individual beyond its pure entertainment value and see the game as a tool for cognitive and social upliftment.