Madibaz chess star Lutho Ngwala has higher honours on his mind each time he takes up his seat at the Eastern Cape championships in Jeffreys Bay this week.
The annual tournament, which started yesterday and finishes on Sunday, has drawn the top players from the province and the Mandela University student-athlete will have to be at his very best to ensure he isn’t castled.
Ngwala, a member of the Nelson Mandela Bay Chess Union team, competes in the open section and will hope to make enough of an impact to earn a spot in the provincial team for the national champs in December.
Madibaz Chess Club coach Jason Valentyn felt he had a good chance of traversing a treacherous battleground successfully over the four days of competition.
“Lutho is among the best players in the region and I believe he has a chance of doing well,” he said.
The coach explained that it was one of the premier events on the Eastern Cape calendar and that they had been preparing meticulously all year.
While Ngwala is in the best possible form, Valentyn is under no illusions about the demands of the challenge.
“It is a fact that provincial chess tournaments are always competitive. It is where the cream of the crop gather to test themselves against their peers,” he said.
Ngwala is clearly up for the challenge.
“I have been working very hard all year on the different aspects which help you to be a successful chess player,” he said earlier this week.
“There are many things that we will need to do right to achieve success. A provincial event such as this, as in any competitive chess tournament, requires a combination of skills and qualities.”
These included being on top of the fundamentals of the game and a proper build-up, he said.
“On top of that, during the event you need to have tactical awareness, positional understanding and time management to ensure you are competitive.”