BANK Windhoek and the Namibia Chess Federation hosted the annual Kehat Beukes Memorial Chess tournament at Swakopmund last weekend.
The event, staged at the Swakopmund Municipal Conference Centre, attracted a record 45 players between the ages of six and 40 years. Participants competed in fierce chess battles comprising nine rounds.
Current national youth champion Dante Beukes was crowned overall winner, followed by Raphael Nyakansaila, with Jossy Uapingene in third place.
Rauha Mulisa won the women's category, while Jamie-Nicole Beukes and Keisha van Wyk occupied the remaining top two spots.
Manfredo !Gaoseb, Kevin Gurirab and Anthony van der Meer won the top three places in the youth category, while Alexander Bertelsmann, Tristan Riedel and Lilian Jansen, were the top three cadets.
"The level of competition was tough this year as each player came prepared to win. This made the tournament a huge success. Congratulations to all the winners," NCF president Charles Eichab said.
Eichab also thanked Bank Windhoek for the sponsorship and added that the bank's support had contributed to the sport's development over the years.
"Bank Windhoek's sponsorship helps us to develop the standard of chess in Namibia. This relationship has yielded positive results," he said.
Dante Beukes shared Eichab's passion for chess.
"I started playing chess at school and I went on to join a club at a very young age. The game helps with problem-solving and allows me to challenge my thinking," he said.
As the highest ranked youth player in the country, Dante Beukes will be playing in the Africa Youth Championships taking place in Windhoek on Sunday, 15 December 2019. His aim is to win the championship and become the first Namibian International Master, which is the second highest title on offer at his level.
"To Bank Windhoek, we are thankful for this generous sponsorship, which allows us to play the sport we love," said Dante.
Rauha Mulisa, who received the Woman Fédération Internationale des Échec (FIDE) Masters in 2018, a title just above Woman Candidate Master in the women-only titles given by the chess world governing body, said she plans making it to the chess Olympics in 2020 and would like to win an International Masters accolade, the highest in her category.
"There are so many benefits to chess and we are glad that Bank Windhoek understands this," Mulisa said.
For !Gaoseb, the Bank Windhoek Kehat Beukes Memorial Chess Tournament was difficult but it was also fun and exciting.
"The Bank's sponsorship motivated me to take part in this tournament and I am thankful. I am now ready to take part in the African Youth tournament this weekend," he said.
One of the oldest tournaments in the country, the Bank Windhoek Kehat Beukes Memorial Chess Tournament aims at attracting the best Namibian chess players, especially the youth.
It was established in 1994 and was previously known as the Swakopmund International Chess Tournament organised by the late doctor Keuhat Beukes. After his death in 1999, the NCF renamed the tournament in his honour.
Beukes was one of Namibia's top surgeons, a chess enthusiast and later became the NCF's president from 1994 until 1999.
"Chess is a game of skill which is over 2 000 years old. It has many benefits such as increasing mental capacity and problem solving skills, especially for children," concluded Eichab.