The Ample Club Championships was held at the Strand Towers Hotel in Cape Town from 21 -23 March 2014. This event was clearly welcomed by the local clubs. All the Top players came to try to win the R21,500 prize money on offer. The highest rated team Stellenbosch with an average rating of 2100 had IM Henry Steel on board one, with Stephen Wagner on 2 and Johan Strydom and Bernand Klein defending the bottom boards. The new look African Chess Lounge (ACL) had the SA Closed Champion Donovan Van den Heever on board 1 and Charles Devilliers on 2 with Bryan Aguirre and Daud Amini defending the lower boards. Manyanani had Watu Kobese on board 1, Shabier on 2, Warrick Erlank and Erfaan Hoosen on the lower boards.
Clubs from Port Elizabeth the Bay Kings and West Coast, Oudtshoorn Simons town all came for this well organized and classy Club Championships in a world-class venue.
Steinitz seemed to be well prepared, surprising everyone with a WGM Katarzyna Toma from Poland on Board 1 and she did the job. She outplayed South Africa’s best. First she drew to FM and SA Closed Champion Donovan Van den Heever who admitted that he felt he was busy losing. In the 5th round she found her way back from a difficult opening to force IM Henry Steel to accept the draw. In the last round FM Shabier Bhawoodien was outplayed. After the first 3 rounds Steinitz did not drop any points and their powerful play was unmatched. The hiding they dished out to the once brilliant chesscube now ACL seemed nearly as if they were not going to be stopped. Then Stellenbosch seemed to stem the tide when the Boland boy Bernard Klein found entry to the Steinitz Captain Accumulators King and set up a six move mate with all the other games looking favourable for Stellenbosch. After a coffee or two, Captain Bouah could only marvel at his team’s ability to turn around near defeat.
Manyanani with Watu and Shabier never got off the mark with their bottom boards being the gaping hole for the oppositions points. It was however their B Team, comprising mainly of the darling siblings, that held things together and ended handsomely in 5th place. African Chess Lounge now home to all of Africa and Chess Cube had a tough tournament against both Steinitz A and Stellenbosch. It was their B Team captained by Reuben Salimu that shined and were up there till the end after which the wheels came off. The Bay Kings did well to make a comeback after their dismal start in the first round against Oudtshoorn who played the Ostrich Gambit against them surprising everyone with the first upset score of 3-1.
The Universities also did well with UCT ending in 6th place and UWC on 8th position.
In this tournament a loss for the team can be fatal. Even if a player performs well and the team loses it is worse than when a player performs poorly and the team does well. This is the dynamics of
team competition. The clubs were treated to a scrumptious dinner on Saturday evening. Steinitz kept their composure and beat Manyanani 3.5-.5 in the final round to win the title comfortably. Another victory on their already illustrious CV.
The Top 5 Teams are:
First: Steinitz A 23.5
Second: Stellenbosch A 21
Third: African Chess Lounge A 21
Fourth: Bay Kings 18, 5
Fifth: Manyanani B 18