Minister Meyer's Address at the Closing Ceremony of the Curro Durbanville Chess Open Tournament
Address by Dr Ivan Meyer, Western Cape Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, at the closing ceremony of the Curro Durbanville Chess Open Tournament on 14 September 2013.
The Tournament Director
The Headmaster and staff of Curro Durbanville
Officials, players, parents, ladies and gentlemen
Last year I had the honour of having dinner with Gary Kasparov, the chess grandmaster who in 1985 at the age of only 22 shot to international fame as the youngest ever world chess champion. When recently asked about the impact that chess has on education and youth development, he stated:
“It’s about the sense of responsibility: they know that it’s entirely up to them to make all the difference, and learn how to operate within a legal framework, because the rules are there and you cannot play the game unless you follow the rules.”
Mr Kasparov’s words are in line with the provincial government’s view that progress is only sustainable if one takes personal responsibility for making a move on the chessboard of opportunity. Progress comes from embracing the opportunity and entering the game.
The former world Champion Alexander Alekhine stated:
“I have shaped my character by means of chess. Chess, in the first place, teaches you to be objective. In chess you can become a grandmaster only if you get to know your own lapses and defects, just as in life.”
Following Kasparov’s visit, I announced that I would initiate a “chess revolution” in the Western Cape as there is enough evidence to suggest that through chess learners can:
- Improve their maths and science abilities;
- Increase their self-discipline;
- Learn to think before making a move in life as in chess; learn that life is about choices; learn that there are consequences for every choice you make.
I indicated then that the chess revolution would entail:
- Liaising with Western Province Chess Federation to further advertise and market chess as a school sport;
- Supporting WP Chess to arrange street chess games in local communities, like our street soccer programme does. I recently went to the Rocklands Library where I handed over a huge outdoor board and 24 smaller chess sets. I am hoping that we can launch street chess in Mitchells Plain very soon;
- Supporting chess playing at our cultural and tourism sites. Encouraging public libraries across the province to promote chess reading material and make chess sets available at all library facilities;
- Encouraging the establishment of open air chess boards at public facilities;
- Using young chess achievers as role models. I note with pride that the two of the highest rated players in South Africa, Henry Steel and Kenny Solomon, hail from Stellenbosch and Mitchells Plain respectively;
- Introducing an annual chess player of the year at our Sport Awards Ceremony;
- Working closely with the chess federation and Moves for Life to increase donor funding for chess; and
- Popularising the best online chess websites.
So how has Curro Durbanville responded to my chess revolution? Well, this Chess Open Tournament which attracted over 160 entries of which about 60 are absolute beginners (first tournament ever) is the perfect response and I thank you. Furthermore, I am reliably informed that:
- Curro Durbanville was voted the best Chess School in 2012 by Chess Western Province.
- The school has consistently produced the largest number of WP players every year (23 WP players last year).
- Seven Curro learners were invited to participate in the African Youth in October in Port Elizabeth.
- In 2012 the Curro u/13 team came 2nd in the country at the Top Schools Tournament, losing by only half a point.
- Chess is a priority sport at the school which also positively affects the school's academic results.
So, given the above, the chess revolution is doing extremely well in Durbanville. I thank you for embracing chess and using it as a platform to equip and prepare our youth for the future … their success will be influenced by the extent to which they have acquired the skills to successfully negotiate the demands of the ever-changing world.
In conclusion, it gives me great pleasure to acknowledge the winners of the inaugural Curro Chess Open. May this event become a permanent feature on the Western Cape Chess calendar.
I thank you.