Interview with a dedicated Chess Parent in South Africa, Pearl Kander-Moodley

Africa Chess Net recently interviewed a dedicated chess parent who has been supporting her son, Yudi, as he played chess over the years. Pearl-Kander Moodley from Durban, South Africa, shares her experiences and lessons from this.

Proud Mother and son
Proud Mother and son

Africa Chess Net: What are your earliest memories for you as a chess parent?

Pearl Kander-Moodley: Yudhi sat at a chess board when he was 2 years old. My cousin from PE used to visit we had a chess board so he put my son on his lap and showed him how to move the pieces on the board.

Africa Chess Net: Wow at 2 years? That’s very early to start playing chess

Pearl Kander-Moodley: Yeah! From there on, Yudhi used to do his own thing on the board as we had no interest in playing chess. When my cousin visited, Yudhi would be so excited because he had someone to play with. When he started school I wanted him to play cricket but he came home one day and said to me: ‘sorry mum I left cricket for the other C – Chess.’ Within a few months of playing in the chess club at school he made it in the SA close. He has held his Provincial colours from the age of 8.

All the Gold and Silver from Chess

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Africa Chess Net: Wow that’s amazing. Have you not been inspired to take up chess?

Pearl Kander-Moodley: I would love to but I just never had the time. I love cricket and as a left-handed Yudhi would have hit Manet sixes. But as long as he is happy that’s all that counts. That’s his passion and as a parent all I did was support him.

Africa Chess Net: What has it been like as a chess parent, the traveling the tournaments, the experience?

Pearl Kander-Moodley: I never travelled with Yudhi on matches as my job did not permit me leave most time

Africa Chess Net: What are your greatest memories from chess so far?

Pearl Kander-Moodley: When Yudhi got his medals for Provincial colours. In 2013 I was with him in Durban when he played at the ICC and he was 1 one of the 5 who qualified in the under 18.

Africa Chess Net: That must fill you with incredible pride as a parent

Pearl Kander-Moodley: Yes, I am extremely proud of my son.

Africa Chess Net: How do you think chess compares to other sports in terms of costs and expenses?

Pearl Kander-Moodley: It’s very expensive as most of the time Yudhi  plays in other provinces and that involves travel and accommodation costs.

Africa Chess Net: In your opinion what benefits have there been from playing chess for Yudhi?

Pearl Kander-Moodley: Chess has opened doors for him. He was awarded a chess scholarship at Crawford College North Coast. UCT (the University of Cape Town) awarded him a scholarship for chess.

Africa Chess Net: That is amazing and he is studying Actuarial Science, a very demanding programme at one of the best universities on the continent.

Pearl Kander-Moodley: Yes. He worked hard for it and deserves it.

Africa Chess Net: How many chess sets do you have in the house?

Pearl Kander-Moodley: OMG – about 10 all over. He has taken some to Cape Town. Now I have 4 at home and they have not been moved. The pieces are still how he left them. Lots of my friends all buy him chess sets. Lots of these chess sets I have also given to other kids.

Africa Chess Net: Any advice you would like to share with a parent who is considering teaching their child chess?

Pearl Kander-Moodley: Champions are not the ones who always win races – champions are the ones who get out there and try. And try harder the next time. And even harder the next time. ‘Champion’ is a state of mind. They are devoted. They compete to best themselves as much if not more than they compete to best others. Champions are not just athletes.

Africa Chess Net: That’s very powerful Pearl!

Committed to the game of chess
Committed to the game of chess

Pearl Kander-Moodley: Chess parents need to support their kids in chess because the benefit of chess is amazing.  A strong memory, concentration, imagination, and a strong will is required to become a great chess player. Chess is life. Chess is war over the board. The object is to crush the opponent’s mind. You can only get good at Chess if you love the game. You have to have the fighting spirit. You have to force moves and take chances. Your body has to be in top condition. Your Chess deteriorates as your body does. You can’t separate body from mind. Chess demands total concentration. Concentrate on material gains. Whatever your opponent gives you take, unless you see a good reason not to.

Yudhi has grown into a man with principle because he is a chess player. It has brought out his great intelligence, his pure and simple soul and has made him a respected gentleman.  In this crazy world we live in Chess helps you to concentrate and improve your logic. It teaches you to play by the rules and take responsibility for your actions, how to problem solve in an uncertain environment.
Who holds the comfort of other people above their own? The instinct to do that is inside every good man, I believe. The rules about opening doors and buying dinner and all of that other ‘gentleman’ stuff is a chess game, especially these days.

Look at a football field. It looks like a big movie screen. This is theatre. Football combines the strategy of chess. It’s part ballet. It’s part battleground, part playground. We clarify, amplify and glorify the game with our footage, the narration and that music, and in the end create an inspirational piece of footage.

It’s less about the physical training, in the end, than it is about the mental preparation: boxing is a chess game. You have to be skilled enough and have trained hard enough to know how many different ways you can counterattack in any situation, at any moment.

Africa Chess Net: You sound like a chess player. Are you sure you don’t play?

Pearl Kander-Moodley: no, I just studied it to have knowledge of it. My famous chess quote: “In life, as in chess, forethought wins.”

Pearl Kander-Moodley: Yudhi s first pic for representing KZN in SA close in Potchefstroom.

Yudhi representing his province KZN for the very first time.
Yudhi representing his province KZN for the very first time.

Africa Chess Net: Thank you very much for the interview Pearl.

Pearl Kander-Moodley: You are welcome.

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