Have we entered the Golden Period of chess in South Africa?

Grandmaster Kenny Solomon
Grandmaster Kenny Solomon

I have been in South Africa for some years now but I cannot remember a time when there was such incredible excitement and hype about chess in the country. Kenny Solomon may have become a chess grandmaster some months ago but the country is still riding high on that wave. The story of Kenny Solomon continues to be told. The soft-spoken but fiercely determined boy from Mitchell Plains who overcame all odds to join a select few individuals in the world who can use the title GM before their name. Grandmaster Kenny Solomon.

For the man it has been a journey with many highs and lows but he held fast. He just kept going and allowed nothing to knock him down. Now South Africa can celebrate and bask in the glory of this incredible achievement. However, this may also be an incredible opportunity for Chess in South Africa.

Who knows how many youngsters from all walks and areas of life will be inspired by the story of Kenny Solomon. Kenny is in the news, he is in the paper, he is one television. His story is being carried far and award across the country and maybe even across the continent of Africa.  On Sunday evening, Grandmaster Kenny Solomon will be featured on Carte Blanche, one of South Africa’s most popular programmes.  Carte Blanche has become an institution among South African television audiences since the programme’s inception in 1988. The show consistently ranks in the top 10 on M-Net and enjoys a local viewership of over 500 000 people every week.

If Kenny can do it why not another youth today.  I have little doubt that Kenny’s achievements will galvanise and inspire his fellow chessplayers who have been playing with Kenny for a long time. If one of them can break through the ranks and achieve the much coverted title of grandmaster, this can be just the beginning of bigger things from South Africa. Could this be the long awaited Golden Period of South African Chess? Only time will tell ladies and gentlemen.

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