By: Kenneth Willenberg
The opening ceremony of the SA Closed 2013/14 was filled with lots of history and fun with a touch of humour displayed by the MC and LOC Chairperson, Mr. Mark Lewis. Immediately after the welcome, everybody stood up for the National Anthem. The participants this year had to choose their opponents by coming up to the front table to select a specially designed chess cup cake with their pairing number on it. The MC, Mr. Lewis called each participant up and added some flavor to the drawing of the lots by giving each player and their number a description that matched their style of play and personality. The crowd seemed to really enjoy this.
Before and during the ceremony the audience was treated to live violin music which gave the ceremony that classical touch.
Advocate and Chess Candidate Master, Lyndon Bouah gave one of the most memorable speeches in chess when he showed great insight into the history of the SA Closed event. He took the audience all the way back to when the first SA Closed took place back in the 1800’s not more than 500 m from where this year’s games will be played. Adv. Bouah also made mention of the fact that it was the 22nd Anniversary of South African Chess participation in the Fide Olympiad and that in 1992 SA first took part when it was held in Manila, Philippines. He added that the members of the 92′ team were all present in the room as well. They were, IM David Gluckman, CM Maxwell Solomon, FM Deon Solomons, CM Lyndon Bouah and FM Charles de Villiers.
Once all the players had their numbers and had eaten their chess cup-cakes, Gunther put up the pairings for all to see. Some light music and lovely table snacks were laid out for everyone to enjoy and socialize.