Chess hits City libraries

Staff Writer, 20 April 2019

Chess is a growing game, and the City of Cape Town is puling all the strings to get more Capetonians on board. Several City libraries have established chess clubs, with many more interested in the game.

The first round of library chess tournaments, aka Chess@Libraries 2019, has kicked off at a number of libraries, and will culminate in a final event later this year. Participating libraries include Leonsdale, Meadowridge, Bishop Lavis, Heideveld, Pinelands, Wynberg, Tokai, Elsies River, Hanover Park, Manenberg, Athlone, Parow, Mamre, Lansdowne, Ottery, Gugulethu, Valhalla Park, Delft South and Kensington.

“Chess is often referred to as sport for the brain as it exercises both sides of the brain, stimulates creativity and improves problem-solving skills. The City is excited about the game expanding in our libraries,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Health, Zahid Badroodien, in a statement.

According to Badroodien, chess is not always seen as a game for everyone, but it benefits all who play and anyone can learn. “Playing chess is a fun way of learning how to follow the rules and it can help to build self-confidence”.

The competition, in its third year and with over 160 regular players, is a brainchild of Daniel Arendse, a senior librarian at Leonsdale Library, who has been involved in chess since 1995 when he was at primary school. He was hooked from the first move and went onto play for the University of the Western Cape, which earned him a sports bursary.

Arendse started chess clubs at several libraries and in 2017 initiated Chess@Libraries as he believes chess is beneficial, regardless of age. “’The benefits of chess are well known,” he explained. “It improves concentration, creativity and it teaches planning. It teaches players to take responsibility for their actions and so much more. At our libraries there are books and magazines available on how to play chess and we offer space for those who want to play.”

The Chess@Libraries initiative has not only created an interest in the game, but several players have gone on to earn provincial colours. They include Heideveld duo Farouk Temoore and Keenan van der Merwe.

The tournaments will qualify players to move on to the second round and the final round at the end of the year, where top participants will play against one another for medals, certificates and a trophy.