Bloemfontein is currently hosting the 2018 edition of the South African Open Chess Championship which is being held in conjunction with the Free State Arts Festival. The tournament began on Saturday, July 7 and is a week-long event that features over 200 players. It consists of 11 rounds which are being played over the seven days.
This national championship, which will conclude on Saturday, July 14, has attracted chess players from neighbouring countries such as Zambia, Botswana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
The chess tournament is divided into three sections. Participants are ranked according to a chess rating system, which is used to calculate the player’s strength based on his or her performance versus other players. The higher your rating, the better player you are considered to be. A player’s rating determines which section he or she falls under.
Section A consists of players with a rating of 1600 and above. This is the section which also consists of players who are considered to be the experts of the game as some have performance-based titles which the World Chess Federation (FIDE) awards (such as the highly-prized Grand Master title).
Open titles can be earned by all players. Women’s titles are restricted to female players, however, strong female players may compete for titles in both systems. Section B has players with ratings between 1100 and 1599. Section C is considered to be the development section and has players with ratings of below 1100. Players of Section C are only playing from 11-13 July.
South Africa’s very own International Master (IM), Daniel Cawdery, and Woman International Master (WIM), Charlize van Zyl, are participating in the Chess Open tournament. Sahaj Grover, a chess Grand Master from India, is also part of the cream of the crop of the tournament.
Winners from the three sections of the Chess Open will walk away with their share of the prize money worth R55 000. The tournament director, Thabo Matsiliso, shared insight into this prestigious tournament and also shed light on the main focus of the championship: “We want to produce a champion from each of the three categories. It is very important for chess players to feature in a tournament of this level.
You do not have to be a math wizard at school for you to be considered as a good player. You just have to be able to apply your mind.”