Rhodes University Chess Club is proving to be a force to be reckoned with after securing two medals at the recent regional Nelson Mandela Bay Chess trials. The first trials were held at Nelson Mandela University, Gqeberha (6-7 May 2022) and the second trials were held at Piet Retief Primary (13-14 May 2022). Current Chess Club Chairperson Lucas Mnguni clinched fourth and second places, while current Student Representative Council President, Botlhale Modisaotsile, clinched third and fourth places, respectively.
“Nelson Mandela Bay Chess hosts trials every year to pick a team to go to the South African Junior Chess Championships. Since we are adults in a university setting, we also have to go through these trials,” explained Modisaotsile.
In the first weekend of trials at Nelson Mandela University, the Rhodes Chess Chairperson and SRC President were put against each other, only to draw. When the two play each other, it’s dubbed ‘The Presidential Derby’, with both being executives of the Rhodes University Chess Club and the SRC, respectively.
“For the past few years, Rhodes University Chess Club has been quite dead. There’s been no action, no movement. So, being the Chess Chairperson this year and seeing my team performing well in tournaments makes me happy. We still have two trials to play again, so this is a work in progress for us,” said Mnguni.
The duo called on more students to join the Chess Club even if they were not confident enough about their skills. “We all have to start somewhere. We try and accommodate everyone, even those who join for the social part,” Modisaotsile said.
Mnguni said: “It is high time our fellow students took chess seriously. The few that are playing are trying and bringing back the results. We can compete with the best. We’ve been competing with other universities, and we want our chess club to be competitive and be the best in the Eastern Cape and even South Africa.” While the Rhodes Chess Club played in Gqeberha on the 13th and 14th of May, current Rhodes Chess Club Vice-Chairperson Maletapata Moshoeshoe and 2021 Rhodes Chess Club Chairperson Johnathan Kroutz represented Rhodes Chess at the USSA Closed, which took place at North West University, Potchefstroom.
Three other players who participated and finished in the top ten of the first trials are Johnathan Kroutz, Steven Masemola and Maletapata Moshoeshoe, who came out in positions five, six and seven, respectively.
Rhodes University Chess club continued to impress in the second trials, with Tshiamo Gadinabokao finishing fourth in the Under-20 section.