Reflections on the South African Chess Hub Holiday Programme

The following article is a reflection by Coach Andrew Talmarkes on the recent South African Chess Hub Holiday Programme that ran from 17 – 23 December 2020.

South African Chess Hub, under the leadership of its founder, Paul Wilson, conducted the inaugural online chess holiday programme from 17-23 December 2020.

31 students participated in the ground-breaking initiative. At the mind-boggling cost of only R250 per person, students were exposed to 20 hours of group coaching via zoom, daily competitions with prizes available, a free chess activity book, as well as daily Lichess tournaments.

The following top coaches were engaged in the programme:

IM Johannes Mabusela; FM Joseph Mwale; CM Khanya Mazibuko; Reuben Salimu; Thabo Elisha; Andrew Talmarkes; Dione Goredema; Michael Cuthbert; Panashe Chimbwanda; Lebohang Mphela; Jaheim Netshakhuma; David Khondowe; Minenhle Mncwabe.

The programme catered for beginner, intermediate and advanced skill levels, as well as masterclass sessions. Students were free to participate in all or as many classes as possible.

In accordance with the Chess Holiday programme, coaches were allocated as follows:

 Beginners group (9h30 – 10h30)               Target group up to 1000 Chess SA rating;

Coaches: Andrew Talmarkes (Team leader); Dione Goredema; David Khondowe

Intermediate group (10h45 – 11h45)       Target group 900 – 1300 Chess SA rating

Coaches: CM Khanya Mazibuko; Panashe Chimbwanda; Jaheim Netshakhuma

Advanced group (12h00 – 13h00)             Target group 1300 – 1600 Chess SA rating

Coaches: Reuben Salimu (Team leader); Michael Cuthbert; Minenhle Mncwabe; Lebohang Mphela

Masterclass (17h00 – 18h00)                       Target group – all

Coaches:  IM Johannes Mabusela; FM Joseph Mwale; Thabo Elisha

Topics covered:

Beginner Programme:

  • Do’s and Don’ts of chess
  • Understanding check, checkmate and stalemate
  • Mating positions and the 3 different kinds of checkmates
  • Planning – for yourself and opponent
  • 35 Most important chess principles relating to :Positional play; Opening stage; Middlegame stage; Endgame stage; Attacking play

Intermediate Programme:

  • Application of Opening Principles
  • Open/Closed Centres
  • Pinning
  • Attacking weak squares
  • Importance of f5 square
  • The central strike
  • Opening diagonals
  • Small advantages
  • Pawn endgames
  • Rook endgames
  • Complex endgames
  • Individual training on own opening repertoire

Advanced Programme:

Mastering Pawn Endings covering the following topics:

  • Premature resignation
  • Erroneous play in pawn endings
  • Lack of understanding of basic principles in pawn endings
  • Ignorance of typical methods of struggle
  • Overlooking stalemating defences
  • Erroneous pawn advances
  • Pawn endings in the creative work of Bobby Fischer

Coaches also prepared daily activity as well as puzzles

Masterclass Programme:

  • Attacking the King (FM Joseph Mwale)
  • Converting material advantage (IM Johannnes Mabusela)
  • Open files (Thabo Elisha)
  • Weak points (IM Johannes Mabusela)
  • Rook endings (Thabo Elisha)

Additional Daily Programme Activities with prizes:

  • Colouring competition – Bokang Mantsoe
  • Wordsearch (Male World Champion) – Ruhan Somai
  • Wordsearch (Female World Champion) – Emlyn Wilson
  • Crossword – Caley Fauconier
  • Photo competition – Govender Family (Jude, Nedivah and Yeshaai)
  • Kahoot Puzzle Master – Ismaeel Lagardien (Winner), Connor Opperman (Runner-Up) and Elzette Fourie (3rd place)
Ruhan Somai (12 years old) was one of our lucky draws winner of this beautiful chess set and bag for his Wordsearch for the Male World Champions

Overall there was a high level of participation from the students in all the respective group sessions. Students and coaches from all over the country participated. The coaches were all very well-prepared and extremely knowledgeable and professional.

Some feedback from parents:

“Good morning Paul and team.

From my side a word of thanks and congratulations on the holiday programme.

My daughter, Elzette, attended the programme and at the age of 16 she might have been he oldest participant, but she really enjoyed it. She kept on telling me how much fun it is. She emerged with a big smile from each session.

She attended the advanced and masterclasses and although most of the work was familiar to her, she still benefitted. The sessions challenged her and the way the classes were presented helped her to understand the principles she already knew. Her words: it operationalized what she already knew.

I think you really succeeded in presenting a programme that only contributed to the development of the childrens’ chess, but which they also enjoyed.” (Lynette Fourie)

“Paul, I would like to thank you for an amazing programme.

The calibre of coaches was an awesome experience and Connor gained so much knowledge and experience.

The work sheets; fun lucky draws; tournaments; medals; etc added a unique touch to this amazing programme.

Thank you to you; the coaches and everyone who went to so much trouble.

Please let me know if there is ever another opportunity, as we will be attending. (Lynne and Connor).”

Paul Wilson and South African Chess Hub needs to be saluted on this ground-breaking initiative. The students certainly got value for money and if I was to attach a value to the coaching opportunities available, then I would say that each student should at least have paid 4 times more for the 20 hours on offer. So it is highly recommendable, as high quality group chess coaching was made available to the masses, with the added bonus of the coaching links being made available to the participants.

There already has been a call for more future holiday programmes to be scheduled.

Coach Andrew Talmarkes (Insight Chess Academy) – 04 January 2021.

About Andrew Talmarkes

Andrew started Insight Chess Academy in January 2013. Actively playing chess for 46 years. Highly experienced coach active in several WP Metro Schools. Provincial coach since 2013 and highly successful with his teams at SAJCC, Western Cape Schools Coach to National Winter Games 2019, and 2020 was cancelled due to COVID. Produced more than 50 WP players and 6 S.A. players. Capable of Coaching all skill levels and very competent with individual, group coaching albeit contact sessions or online. Andrew Talmarkes is also a National Chess Arbiter and accomplished chess administrator.

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1 thought on “Reflections on the South African Chess Hub Holiday Programme”

  1. Malan Steenkamp

    Thanks for the feedback. I hope that the next holidays there will be another one? Or June holidays might also be perfect?
    As adult I hope we can also join? Perhaps after cutoff date when you still have space left…
    Malan Steenkamp

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