The South African Junior Closed Chess Championships (held from 5th to 12th April 2017 in Johannesburg) is an annual event where the top 30 youth chess players in the country per age and gender group contest to earn the right to represent South Africa at Continental and International events for that calendar year. The top 2 placed players per age and gender group automatically qualify for all Continental and International events.
Naseem Essa (Grade 8 – Cambridge) has competed in this event from 2013, whereby he narrowly missed out, by placing 4th, in that year to represent South Africa. In 2014, he finished 2nd obtaining his full South African colours by representing Team South Africa. He has qualified every year since to represent South Africa, however in this year’s edition, he placed 1st, winning gold in the Under 14 Open section. Therefore he earns the right to compete and represent South Africa as the official player in the following events for 2017: World Youth (Uruguay), African Youth (Egypt) and Commonwealth (India).
In addition to the above achievement, Naseem Essa received the best Under 14 Youth Award at the 2017 Chess South Africa Awards Ceremony for his performances in 2016 and being one of the highest rated youth players from all age categories in the country.
I have had the privilege of managing Naseem Essa at the 2015 African Youth in Zambia where he won the Under 12 Open obtaining the FIDE Master Title. He has immense talent and passion for the game, and with the right support team of coaches that he has, he will still continue to achieve amazing feats in the coming years.
Report by Mr D Sookdeo
Convenor of National Selections Committee (CHESS SA) – outgoing