Taking Chess to the Streets in Observatory
A giant chess board, hidden behind a wall covered in graffiti artwork and under a bridge, is bringing people together while activating public space in the heart of the Observatory community.
On Tuesday, 26 March 2013 the Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Dr Ivan Meyer, teamed up with Grandmaster elect Kenny Solomon on this board to take on two primary school learners in an exhibition match. This community space is owned by the Observatory Improvement District.
Having announced a chess “revolution” in the Western Cape in June last year, Dr Meyer said it was evident today that the progressive results are bearing fruit. “Our vision is to provide opportunities for people to play chess, and to encourage them to do it in public spaces. We want to see chess being played in libraries and museums, as well as in community parks across the province,” said Dr Meyer.
Over the past year, the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport has championed the installation of chess sets in libraries and museums across the province and is now focussing on getting schools to add chess to their extra-curricular offerings.
The Minister highlighted the importance of chess around three aspects: It teaches the youth to make a move in the right direction, that there are consequences for every move in life, and it can have a positive impact on their education. Dr Meyer said after today’s successful trial period, he hopes similar outdoor chess boards will now become a permanent fixture for budding Grandmasters. “There is nothing more magical than seeing a six-year-old play chess,” he added.
Mitchells Plain-born Solomon is an inspiration for many in the chess fraternity, and still continues to be. After two decades and hundreds of chess games, he is set to become South Africa’s first Chess Grandmaster, joining a mere 1300 active title holders worldwide. Solomon said through this giant chess board, young chess players from this community are being provided the space where they can improve their knowledge, learn from others and simply enjoy some healthy competition.
Now that he is close to international success, Solomon’s dream is to open our country’s first chess academy. “By opening a chess school, I believe I can make a contribution to the development of the game and possibly more Grandmasters. I want to share the principles, ideas and inner beauty of the game. That is true development,” said Solomon.