The South African Junior Chess Championships (SAJCC), my take so far

The South African Junior Chess Championships in Cape Town
The South African Junior Chess Championships in Cape Town

We have now had a few Rounds at The 2015 South African Junior Chess Championships (SAJCC). The championships are running from 3 to 10 January 2016 at the Sports Centre, University of Cape Town. Ladies and gentlemen, there are no easy games in this tournament. I have lived through the drama of wins, losses and hard-fought draws as a Team Manager and Part Coach.

I don’t know who it’s tougher for, the players or the team managers or parents. The players have to sit for hours and hours to try and out play each other. Meanwhile the team managers and parents have to live through all the drama. Sometimes you think it’s going to be a draw, then the position looks losing and then there is a win, or someone makes an illegal move and it completely changes everything. You add up the team score so far and work out what it will take to win the match. Then as the evaluation of the position starts to change, you wonder if you are still going to get that win or maybe it’s just best to settle for a draw.

The parents sit very patiently inside or outside the playing hall. Judging from expressions on their son or daughter, they can take a good guess whether everything is going well. A dejected look at the end of the game needs absolutely no explanation. An excited or relieved player could mean a win or draw, it all depends!

How can one forget the arbiters who have to criss-cross the hall endlessly as they attend all kinds of queries. In the last hour of play it seems the number of blunders, illegal moves and the like. I for one do not envy the arbiters. This evening I saw a player who was completely winning, perhaps overcome with excitement, make an illegal move while in check. Unfortunately he had moved his queen and had to use the piece to block the check and the piece went for absolutely nothing. He resigned a move later. I felt for him. All those hours spent raking his brains and now it ends so suddenly and so painfully. How do you console such a player?

Spare a thought for those who capture the games so that we can get them in PGN. Portable Game Notation (PGN) is a plain text  format for recording chess games which makes it easy to replay the game. You can compare it to the words and notes to a song. When the game is played those involved record it using simple pen and paper and then those capturing the game on computer have to try and read the handwriting of players who under pressure can sometimes write like doctors, no offence to doctors.

There are many people running around behind the scenes to make sure that the shuttles arrive and drop off people, the rounds start on time and that things work as they should. It is hard to imagine that a venue can have as many as two thousand one hundred and fifty-eight people, all trying to checkmate each other.

The determination of the players just to get that point is just amazing. The time control means that players can be playing for at least 3 hours per round not even taking the increment into account. This means by the end of the day they can played for at least 6 hours a day. Getting rest before games is EXTREMELY important

All the best to our players and teams, some of whom are doing very well. There is still a great deal to play for in this tournament. The teams have 10 players and every single board makes a difference. May the best team and player win.