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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

First Chess Grandmaster for South Africa: Kenny Solomon? (Updated)

Chess blog for latest chess news and chess trivia (c) Alexandra Kosteniuk, 2012

Hi everyone,

Cape Town's Kenny Solomon is almost South Africa's first chess Grandmaster! A nice article by Aziz Hartley states: Solomon played his first game of chess at 13. Kenny Solomon, 32 was in a team of five South Africans at the 2012 World Chess Olympiad in Istanbul for two weeks.

When results were announced at the weekend, he was one of eight international contestants "awarded" grandmaster – a title held for life. Solomon could not be reached as he was flying from Turkey to Italy, but Anant Dole, whom he taught chess for five years, said his rating performance had been around 2600 over nine rounds at the Olympiad as well as at three other previous tournaments.

Dole who lives in Constantia said Solomon moved to Italy last year to hone his skills. “Playing top-class chess in South Africa is very difficult because there are few top-class players. Kenny was number one here, but for him it was not enough,” Dole, 19 said. He said Solomon was married with a daughter.

On his blog, Solomon said he started playing in Mitchells Plain aged 13 after his older brother, Maxwell, was flown to Manila to play in an Olympiad. He began reading chess books, taught himself and in two years won the national championship. Also on the blog were messages, including one from a Sharon Snell who wrote: “South Africa’s first grandmaster. You are an inspiration to us all.”

Cultural Affairs and Sport MEC Ivan Meyer said: “We await with great excitement for the confirmation of his new status ... making him only the second chess player from sub-Saharan Africa and only the eighth in Africa to ever achieve this.”

P.S. An article on Chess Drum adds: Kenny adds two norms to the one he had in Italy and gets the required three norms for the GM title. He only has to get his Elo rating to 2500 to complete the requirements. His title will officially remain “IM” until he reaches that plateau. 

Solomon's Fide rating card shows a chess rating of 2426 before the Istanbul Chess Olympiad. The 2500 shouldn't be a problem for Kenny Solomon, we suppose!

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