Coaches report on St Lo international chess tournament Frans-Willem Vermaak The St Lo chess tournament proved to be successful in many ways. Generally things were well organized and ran smoothly concerning both the tournament organization and the organization of the SA delegation (the second mostly thanks to all the effort from Madeleine!). The tournament also had a fun side with all kinds of games being organized in between rounds. There were plenty of exposure to strong players and the tournament format was also very comfortable with only one round a day. On the negative side the FIDE regulations were not strictly enforced concerning talking during rounds etc. and a strange pairing system was used. Our players that performed very well in the u1400 section were not well rewarded for their results. Another unfortunate situation was a large group of Romanian players that entered the u1400 section all with ratings of 1000. These players were however rather strong and this affected our players’ performance ratings negatively. Discussion of players Rihaldo Swanepoel Rihaldo played very promising chess, with a great ability to find plans in many types of positions, good analytical ability and good knowledge of the structures he likes to play. Moves like 11) Na4 against Miroi shows that he can be very creative. Rihaldo dominated the u1400 section and in future he should play a higher section to allow himself to obtain maximum exposure. Very well done to him for winning his section and a young man to keep an eye on. Inge Marx Inge played some wonderful games considering she is still u/10, her determination and will to fight had her sitting at the board for hours. Unfortunately playing a lot of South African opposition, Inge still impressed against her older teammates certainly giving Siviwe Mazingi and Toshka Barnardo a run for their money. If Inge keeps on improving at her current rate she should make her mark in SA women’s chess in years to come. Pierre Van Rensburg Pierre played a few impressive games often giving up some material for long-term and subtle compensation and always playing with immense faith in his own positions. I was also impressed by the effort he put into opening preparation for the tournament. He needs to work on his “finishing off” skills as he does not always convert winning positions and sometimes subtle tactics evade him. A successful tournament for him though as his final score of 5.5 is one of the top SA scores in the junior section and he defeated a number of higher rated opponents. Pierre definitely possesses skill but to straighten out the kinks in his game boils down to the same old story… practice practice practice… Toshka Barnardo Toshka is a promising player with a great ability to find ways forward on unknown territory. This suits her style of playing different opening structures all the time but I believe that if she were to improve her knowledge of specific openings it would greatly benefit her chess and help her beat stronger opposition. Toshka is however a promising player with solid tactical and conceptual ability and lots of potential. Michelle Fisher Michelle plays consistent with great trust in her opening structures. She managed some good games showing some nice tactical insight for example with the 21)… Rc8 idea against Truftin. Michelle sometimes loosens her opponents’ noose when she is winning but her overall performance was good and the international exposure will be beneficial. She exhibits a surprising fighting spirit and had some players reconsider their notions after underestimating her at first. Nadia Joubert Nadia plays solid and consistent chess. The tournament allowed her to show her potential resulting in a few very good games, particularly the way she secured the d3 square and made the seemingly weak c4 pawn count in her game against her teammate, Fritz Kaylin. Not always playing with the killer instinct Nadia took some quick draws where a lot of play was left in the position. Only losing one game to a fellow South African, Siviwe, I was impressed by her knowledge and the improvement she had shown since her previous international tournaments. Divek Surujhlal Divek is a strong player with a good balance of attacking and positional chess. He beat players more than 300 rating points above him and drew with a player 500 points higher. In round 4 outplayed his 1800 opponent but played a rather awful endgame to end up losing a game where he had an extra pawn. Unfortunately Divek and his father decided not to stay with the group and this made it very difficult to do effective coaching. With some hard work on his weak points Divek can certainly start making a mark in the SA chess scene. Antonie Gildenhuys Antonie had a very successful tournament. He was the best u/10 player in his section with an impressive 6.5/9 points. Antonie won most of his games convincingly, in round 5 he went astray in a complicated Ruy Lopez and in round 3 he misplayed a scotch game with the black pieces, in both cases against strong players. He has a great eye for tactics and often punishes his opponents in the opening. If his concentration is good you’re almost assured an interesting game. Certainly a young player that will take points from strong players in years to come.