As an age old strategy game, chess is still very much a global sport, seeing many people now able to compete on a variety of platforms due to the game, like everything else, making the leap to online many years ago. Through this evolution the sport now enjoys competitions between players from all over, with certain tournaments trumping them all.
Curro Sport recently hosted the biggest school online chess tournament in South Africa, a local first! The independent education provider, via their sporting division, Curro Sport, hosted their Inter-Curro online chess tournament on Saturday, 22 August 2020.
This new tournament saw 234 primary school and 103 high school learners participate. The event took place on the Lichess.org platform and was facilitated by Kenneth Willenberg from Chess Academy South Africa and Mercia Addinall from Curro Holdings.
“During lockdown, e-sports has become an incredible opportunity for learners to connect in a fun, competitive space; in lieu of them traditionally meeting face-to-face for sporting events,” says Cindy van der Merwe, Project Manager: Curro Sport.
Adding to the excitement, van der Merwe states that due to the success of this tournament, chess has been awarded ‘Curro Cup status’ in 2021. This means chess will be one of the twelve sports codes that make up the 2021 Curro Cup competition.
The Curro Cup is a first of its kind for Curro Holdings and South Africa; and is set to reshape the landscape of school sport within the Curro group of schools. Thousands of Curro learners across the country will compete in national inter-school events for rugby sevens, soccer, netball, hockey, tennis, athletics, swimming, golf, mountain biking and now chess.
Mihir Lalbeharie, St Dominics Newcastle’s chess prodigy, secured the victory in the under 20 age division, in the online chess tournament. An achievement which sees St Dominics Newcastle and Mihir beaming with pride.
“I have always loved playing chess and it is definitely my favourite sport. I decided to enter the online chess tournament to test my skills against other Curro players from across the country,” Lalbeharie explains upon being questioned on why he decided to enter the event.
Having clinched the victory in his age division, now knowing his skills are on a level which surpasses his current enviroment, Mihir states, “It feels good to know, that I am not just good at chess within my school, but that I am good enough to compete against learners from several other Curro schools,” he says proudly.
As the winner of his division, what is it about chess that he enjoys so much? And when did he start playing?
“I started playing chess from a young age, but it was only when I was in Grade 6 that I began playing competitively. In Grade 7, 8, 9 and 10, I won the best player of the year award. What I enjoy most about chess, is that it is not about the aggressive or defensive moves that always matter. It is about the perfect move, which I find so satisfying.”
With a deep-seated passion for chess, Mihir hopes to continue playing throughout the remainder of his school career and through university. He also hopes to look at taking part in other tournaments.
The following Curro learners won in their respective age group categories:
- Under 8 – Thoriso Mohale from Curro Academy Savanna City
- Under 10 – Emlyn Wilson from Curro Durbanville
- Under 12 – Connor Opperman from Curro Hermanus
- Under 14 – Reegan Palmer from Curro Online
- Under 16 – Ethan Higham from Curro Hermanus
- Under 18 – Kahill Dhevcharran from Curro Durbanville
Congratulations to Mihir Lalbeharie from St Dominics Newcastle and all the Curro learners for their exceptional achievements.
Author: Quinton Boucher
Edited: Calvin Swemmer