05 January 2017 – Eleven of Namibia’s most promising young chess players recently returned from Lusaka in Zambia where they competed in the 2016 African Schools Individual Chess championships.
The continental chess championship, held just before Christmas, was attended by hundreds of African junior chess players all having their eyes on one of the so-called FIDE titles. To win one of the top three spots in any age bracket at this huge championship, is indeed an honour for any young player.
The young Namibian players returned with three medals.
Ottilie Hinda (6) won a silver medal and became Namibia’s youngest female player ever to attain a Women’s Candidate Master title. Jamie-Nicole Beukes also won a silver medal in the under-9 age group and was similarly conferred a Women’s Candidate Master title. Dante Beukes won the Gold in the under-13 age group.
The team of 11 players were selected after the African Youth Chess championship in August last year in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, where 35 of Namibia’s most promising young players participated.
During the Lusaka championship, Dante Beukes proved why he is the highest ranked player in his age group, winning a gold medal and attaining the title, Fide Master, a notch higher than his previous Candidate Master title. He is now the youngest and only the second Namibian chess player to attain this title. He also became the only Namibian player to move from one title to a higher ranked title.
Towards the end of the championships with only one around to go, Kevin Gurirab and Aldo Horn were fighting for medals. However, both failed to make it to the top three in their age groups.
The other team members are Lure Horn, Caro Horn, Patience Tsuses, Anthony van der Meer, Meundju Katjariua and Phillip Mootseng. Accompanying parents, Menencia Hinda and Berdian Beukes acted as team managers.
The Namibian Chess Federation stated that Junior Chess has experienced a major revival countrywide over the past couple of years. With sufficient funding, the federation is convinced junior chess can be taken to an internationally competitive level.