African Chess Lounge – A model of perfection in chess coaching scores big at SAJCCC 2015

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.

Reuben Salimu, Chess Coach and Entepreneur after the SAJCCC 2015
Reuben Salimu, Chess Coach and Entepreneur after the SAJCCC 2015

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.

Evernote Camera Roll 20150412 165052 (1) Evernote Camera Roll 20150412 165052 (2) Evernote Camera Roll 20150412 165053

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.

Reuben Salimu with Kaylin Fritz, the second under 20 to represent South Africa at the World Youth Championship
Reuben Salimu with Kaylin Fritz, the second under 20 to represent South Africa at the World Youth Championship

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.

Reuben Salimu with Seth Riley Adams the first under 12 to represent SA at the World Youth in Greece
Reuben Salimu with Seth Riley Adams the first under 12 to represent SA at the World Youth in Greece

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.

Reuben Salimu and Naseem Essa, the second under 12 to represent SA in World Youth Champs SA.
Reuben Salimu and Naseem Essa, the second under 12 to represent SA in World Youth Champs SA.

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.

Reuben Salimu, a man who has very good reason to be smiling after the South African  Junior Closed Chess Championships 2015
Reuben Salimu, a man who has very good reason to be smiling after the South African Junior Closed Chess Championships 2015

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.

Bruce Mubayiwa

I am the founder and editor of Africa Chess Net. I have been playing chess for over 25 years and love writing about the game. Our goal is simple, to get more people playing chess in Africa! The game of chess is not only absorbing but a great deal of fun.

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