“The feeling was unreal. After the last round of the tournament I couldn’t stop smiling,” said February.
“My heart was beating fast and it still feels as if it was only a dream.”
February was also selected for the national team for the World Youth Chess Championships in Greece in October after being crowned U18 girls champion at the South Africa junior closed chess championships in Pretoria last month.
“I had to bite down and push myself, because I knew this is what I wanted.
“Being a Springbok chess player has always been my dream. There’s no better feeling than to represent my country.”
Placing first in her category also secured her a place at the World Junior Chess Championship, which takes place in Russia in September.
This is the first time February has won a national championship, although she has been representing the country since April last year.
The 18-year-old travelled to Scotland for the Commonwealth Chess Championship in Glasgow last June, and competed in the World Youth Chess Championship in Durban three months later.
“Preparation for national and international tournaments for me starts with weekly sessions.
“My coach and I will go over previously played games and analyse my mistakes, strategic inaccuracies and look at several positions to improve my tactical ability,” she said.
February started playing chess at the age of eight and after two years of competing in local tournaments attained her Eastern Province colours for the first time.
The first-year BCom Rat (Law) student has been representing the region ever since and now, more recently, her country.
In December she participated in the African Youth Championships in Tunisia where she received her Woman Fide Master title, which she characterised as one of her greatest achievements.
“I generally enter a tournament with the mentality that I play every single game to win but also to not worry about my opponent or how good they are, just to go out and play the best game I possibly can.”
February said her next goal would be to become a grandmaster.
“It’s the most prestigious title to attain as a chess player.”