Checkmate…10-year-old Joburg girl flies SA flag in chess tournament | The Star – Independent Online

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Chess player Sanjana Ramlall. Picture: Supplied
Sanjana Ramlall’s days of being an underdog in the game of chess are long over.

Sanjana is part of the under-10 South African chess players segment and has qualified to represent South Africa at the African Youth Chess Championships in Namibia next month.

Her achievements include Joburg Metro Closed Winner U10 (2018), SA Junior Chess Championships (SAJCC) 2018 U10 Girls Blitz Champion, SAJCC 2018 Silver Medal Team Event U10 Section, Arnold Classic 2018 Best Female Player Rapid and GoForChess-Winner Online Tournament 2018.

Sanjana is a 10-year-old from Morningside, Joburg, whose hobbies include reading, playing cricket and tennis.

She discovered her passion for chess two years ago when she started playing after being introduced to the game at Crawford Sandton Preparatory School.

Rakesh Ramlall, Sanjana’s father, said he taught her the basic rules and moves of the game.

“Sanjana initially learnt about chess at the school she attends because they’re quite big on chess,” he said.

The Grade 4 learner began her chess journey as a reserve player for the school team. She was then selected to play for the school and was part of the team that won first place that year.

She is a member of the GoForChess chess club in Johannesburg which is run by the school coach.

“It was the coaches at the club who recognised her potential and spoke to her mother and myself about entering her into the national team,” Rakesh said.

Sanjana’s parents entered her into the Wildcard event, where the top 10 players would qualify to participate in the South African Junior Chess Closed Championship.

She finished in the top 10 and earned her national colours the following year.

“The next step for us was then to prepare for the Commonwealth Chess Championship in India, held in July 2018. Sanjana participated in tournaments around Gauteng in preparation for this. She performed well in most of the tournaments,” Rakesh said.

On the trip to India, she ended with four wins out of seven, which was the highest score for the South African contingent. This was a significant achievement as India is a difficult country to play against.

“She has coaching once a week for an hour and a half or more. The weekends are normally taken up playing tournaments.

“We also allow her to attend friends parties as well as have play dates,” he said.

Sanjana’s performance and rating allowed her to be selected to participate in the SA Junior Chess Closed Championships. She went on to win the tournament in April this year.

Her parents aim to raise funds for Sanjana to ensure that she gets to Namibia and represents South Africa, where her dream of being the best under-10 girl in Africa will hopefully become a reality.

“We’ve set a target of R40000 on a Back-a-Buddy campaign. The funds would be used to purchase uniforms, and pay for flights, accommodation and as tournament fees,” Ramlall said.

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