The 2018 Boardwalk Pearson Chess Open is now underway at the Boardwalk International Convention Centre. The prestigious event, which kicked off this week, 12 March 2018, will see top and emerging chess players pit their skills against each other in a tournament accredited and recognized by the World Chess Federation (Federation Internationale des Echecs, known as FIDE from its French acronym).
The IM Norm Field – which is by invitation only and features top players from India, South Africa, Angola, Zambia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe – takes place from today until 18 March 2018. The A and B Sections – rated by FIDE, Chess South Africa (CHESSA), and the URS – will play out on 16 to 18 March and the Junior Development section will take place on 17 March 2018.
Invited players competing in the IM Norm Field include Port Elizabeth’s very own FIDE Master Jack van zyl Rudd who is easily the top-rated junior player in South Africa. At just 15 years of age he is the youngest player in the field by a long way and will be looking forward to the opportunity to test himself against some of the best players from the continent. Jack earned his FIDE Master title following his second-place finish in the 2016 African Youth Chess Championships. He has been playing extensively on the international circuit and will hope to leverage the experience gained from his recent events in London, Gibraltar and Portugal to secure a good result in this event.
Grandmaster Sahaj Grover from India will start the tournament as the top seed. A child prodigy, he won the under-10 section of the World Youth Chess Championships in Belfort, France in 2005. He earned his International Master title in 2010 and his Grandmaster title in 2012. Grover has been a regular visitor to South Africa and is the reigning South African Open Champion. He relocated to South Africa on a full-time basis in January 2018 and is currently studying at the University of Port Elizabeth.
South African, International Master Henry Robert Steel is also competing this week. He is one of the strongest chess players South Africa has ever produced. He has won the South African Chess Championship twice, in 2007 and 2011 and represented South African at four consecutive Chess Olympiads between 2008 and 2014. He earned his International Master title in 2014 and is currently the second highest rated player in South Africa.
Zimbabwean, International Master Rodwell Makoto has been one of the top players from Southern Africa for more than 10 years. He won the South African Open in 2012 and has represented his native Zimbabwe in multiple Chess Olympiads. He became an International Master in 2013 and is currently the second highest rated player from Zimbabwe. He is a regular at most top tournaments in South Africa and a consistent performer for many years.
FIDE Master Calvin Klaasen has made steady progress over the last few years and secured the biggest win of his career at the end of 2017 when he won the South African Closed Chess Championships for the first time. He made his debut for the South African Olympiad team in 2016 and has already secured his selection for the 2018 team as well. Calvin is the highest rated player in the field that is not already an International Master and is expected to be pushing hard for an IM norm result in this tournament.
FIDE Master Harold Wanyama is amongst the very best players from East Africa. He is part of a quartet of master level players from Uganda that has dominated chess in East Africa for more than ten years. Harold has represented Uganda at numerous chess Olympiads and is a multiple winner of the Ugandan National Championships. He also won the 2015 KCF Africa Millionaire Chess qualifier in Kenya and went on to represented East Africa at the main event in Las Vegas.
Zambian, Geoffrey Luanga has risen to prominence over the last nine months in a manner that can be described as nothing short of spectacular. He has gained more than 150 rating points in a period of less than 9 months and is now the 6th highest rated player from his native Zambia. He enters the tournament at a career high rating of 2300 which entitles him to apply for his FIDE Master title. He secured a gold medal on board 2 at the KCF Africa Team Invitational in Johannesburg last year and will be seeking to add an IM Norm to his list of achievements on South African soil.
International Master David Silva hails from Angola and is a three-time African Junior Champion and one of the most promising junior players on the continent. He is already the third highest rated player from his native Angola despite only being 20 years of age. David secured his International Master title at the age of only 16 when he won the 2014 African Junior Chess Championships with a perfect score of 9/9. He is an ambitious junior and it will be interesting to see how he performs against the many veterans participating in this field.
Candidate Master Donaldo Paiva is the second highest rated player from Mozambique and has been a member of the Mozambique national chess team for many years. He recently competed in the 2018 BMI Lesotho Open where he scored a perfect 12/12 including wins against some of the top-rated players from Southern Africa. Donaldo comes into the tournament as one of the lowest rated players but he has an inventive style which makes him capable of beating anyone on his day.
The public is encouraged to visit The Boardwalk during the tournament to watch some of the exciting chess battles. The tournament runs daily from 12 to 18 March 2018 at the Boardwalk International Convention Centre.
The Boardwalk has long been a proud supporter of local chess and chess development. It has been in partnership with Nelson Mandela Bay Chess Union since 2011 and has played host to the Commonwealth Chess Championships 2013, the African Youth Chess Championships in 2013, the Eastern Cape Close Chess Tournament 2015 and the African Youth Chess Championships 2016.