Interview with Sandra Minnaar, President of Sedibeng Chess

Sandra Minnaar, President of Sedibeng Chess
Sandra Minnaar, President of Sedibeng Chess

Africa Chess Net: Sandra I think these are incredible times for the game of chess. I don’t think I have ever been this excited about chess, even from my playing days

Sandra Minnaar: Totally agree! Even our small region did a bit better. We participated in the B & C Section, but our Under 18’s and 16’s made it to the Champions league. There is a lot of work still to be done in our region. I’m very positive for Sedibeng although we are very small and we are struggling with coaching here. We’ve currently got Fusi Pitso and Vincent Choko as well as Martin Botha. Not sure if you are familiar with these names. But we will get there.

Sedibeng players at the 2014 South African Junior Chess Championships (SAJCC) in Kimberley
Sedibeng players at the 2014 South African Junior Chess Championships (SAJCC) in Kimberley

Africa Chess Net:  I am not familiar with those names at all. We too have huge challenges in Northern Cape.  The province is really massive in size

Sandra Minnaar: But you guys are also doing a tremendous job there. Dina explained to me how difficult it is to reach all the places. But keep going! Great job!

Sandra Minnaar & Prithee Emanuel
Sandra Minnaar & Prithee Emanuel

Africa Chess Net: Where did Sedibeng come from? Sorry for the silly question

Sandra Minnaar: We are one of the regions in Gauteng. Vanderbijlpark, Vereeniging, Meyerton and Heidelberg.

Africa Chess Net: Very interesting. I had no idea Sandra.  How did you get involved in chess?

Sandra Minnaar: My two boys were Grade R and Grade RR when daddy started introducing them to the game. We were staying in Tswane at the time. When they started school, Monument Park in Pretoria, the school had chess as a sport. The teacher approached me and informed me that the two boys are showing a lot of potential and should get extra coaching. We were referred to Marissa van der Merwe. She became a very close friend of mine and a big mentor. I then made myself available to assist the teacher as a team manager for the school teams.

Later I became part of the school committee and then became part of Gauteng North committee. I worked with Wim Slabbert as president. I was appointed as the secretary and Judy-Marie Steenkamp the vice president. We then relocated to Heidelberg and I then got nominated as President for Sedibeng. Now I’m trying my utter most best to make chess grow to a new level in this area. Mindsets of the people here is not where the Tswane people are, but we are working hard to improve.

Africa Chess Net: Wow, that’s great. Do you actually play the game yourself? What’s your favourite piece on the board?

Sandra Minnaar:  Well, to tell you the truth, I’ve never played competitively. My two boys sometimes convince me to play with them. I then make them take of their Queens and Rooks and then sometimes still loose

Africa Chess Net: Sounds like your boys are now quite strong chess players.

Sandra Minnaar: Well, they were making progress when we were still in Tswane. They also got coaching from Justin Wilken just before we relocated. But now that we are in Sedibeng and with the shortage of coaching, they’ve gone down in rating.

Africa Chess Net: In that case you might have to go the online route in coaching if distance is a big issue.

Sandra Minnaar: Yes thought of that option, but it would mean discipline and time. Their interests broaden and they got involved in other sports as well. To find a balance is now a challenge along with all the school work. My eldest son told me when we got back from Kimberley that he really wants to improve his chess as this is his last year to make a move. So we’ve arranged with Martin to assist. He just missed the closed. Maybe if we are lucky and if there’s some withdrawals, he might still have a chance. He played in the under 18’s.

Africa Chess Net: I am really sorry he missed the closed. The South African Junior Chess Championships in Kimberley were really tough.

How did Sedibeng do in that in event?

Sandra Minnaar: Well, we got 11 players who made it to the close. We’ve got 1 boy Cavan Jacobs in the Under 18 who won and a girl Pretty Emanuel in Under 14’s who won and we are so proud of them! We got a few board prizes as well.

Africa Chess Net: Well done, that is very impressive.

Sandra Minnaar: We had 23 individuals who participated in the individuals. We’ve also managed to take an under 8 team, which I’m also very proud of.

In total we took 9 teams this year and had a total of 90 players who participated in the team event.

Africa Chess Net: That was quite a contingent of players travelling to Northern Cape.

Sandra Minnaar: We also took some development players from a school Carel De Wet situated in Vanderbijlpark. And with very little coaching, they’ve really out performed. I was so impressed with them! There were two boys in the under 16’s teams who got board prizes even! I think that’s really wow!

Africa Chess Net: Looks like you are really making headway in Sedibeng.

What was your overall impression of SAJCC?

Sandra Minnaar: Well, from my side, I know what it takes to organize a tournament. So my view is that it was absolutely great! A few things people will always moan and groan about, but there is always many ways to kill a cat. Those who moan and groan, I’m trying to get involved and soon they realize what it takes and then they quickly change their attitude and compliments starts to roll in. I’ve got it in my to do list to put together a report from Sedibeng and will soon forward to you guys. But you were all great and it was a great event! Thanks in the mean time.

Africa Chess Net: Thank you but credit for organising that tournament should really go to the tournament convenor Dina Van Der Walt and Northern Cape Chess President Connie Van der Walt, together with Warren Adjum, CHESSA and the team in Kimberley.

Sandra Minnaar: Yes, will definitely forward my report soon. Nice chatting to you. Will keep in contact.

Africa Chess Net: Thanks so much Sandra, That was the interview, really appreciate it.

Sandra Minnaar: O wow! Thanks Bruce. You are welcome. Regards,

Africa Chess Net: Wishing you all the greatest of success in everything you do

Sandra Minnaar: Thanks a million. Same to you!


  1. Good day, I am a mom of a Sedibeng chess player and would lime to thank Sandra for all her love and support. She is our rock and we are growing stronger. Love Sedibeng, close family.

  2. Good day, I am a mom of a Sedibeng chess player and would lime to thank Sandra for all her love and support. She is our rock and we are growing stronger. Love Sedibeng, close family.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.