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A chess team in a different mould

What would your stereotype image of a chess player be like? An unfashionable, quiet, bespectacled guy who’ll have nothing on his mind but chess. Someone who hates outdoors and eats, breathes and sleeps chess, reports Anupma Tripathi.

other Updated: May 15, 2010 01:29 IST
Anupma Tripathi

What would your stereotype image of a chess player be like? An unfashionable, quiet, bespectacled guy who’ll have nothing on his mind but chess. Someone who hates outdoors and eats, breathes and sleeps chess.

Right?

Wrong.

The South African team, here to participate in the Parsvnath Commonwealth Chess Championship, completely defies the general perception.

The second biggest contingent after the hosts, if not racking their brains on the chessboard, can either be seen playing snooker in the hotel lobby or chatting with strangers.

Ask them about the number of hours they put in to hone the finer nuances of the game, and prompt comes the reply, “Give us a break!”

So what makes these boys stand out in the crowd?

It is their love for the outdoors. Werner Kannemeyer is a 19-year-old boy from Pretoria. Kannemeyer always wanted to be a cricketer until he took to chess. “I played cricket till class VIII. I have also played at the district level. But when I realised it was really hard to get into the provincial or national team, I took up chess. Moreover, my brother also plays chess. I still play cricket,” he said.

Kannemeyer is not the only one. His city-mate Henca Marcais, 18, is a footballer and plays for FC Rabels. “I can play in any position,” said Marcais. The Pretoria boy is really excited about the football World Cup scheduled in South Africa in June this year. “I am really excited and have put my money on Lionel Messi (Argentina).”

Another player, Ryan Van Rensburg is also a football buff. Ryan is a bookmaker. His inclination towards chess is the result of watching his friends play the sport. “I love the game, which is why I am here.” The list doesn’t end here. Daniel Barrish, 9, the youngest in the team, plays rugby.

It’s not for nothing South Africa is called the Rainbow Nation.

Negi on sole lead

Second seed Grandmaster Parimarjan Negi took sole lead with six-and-a-half point after beating GM Sriram Jha in the seventh round on Friday. Meanwhile overnight joint leader GM Maletin Pavel drew with top seed GM Alexey Dreev of Russia.