Madibaz sportswoman of 2016, Jesse February, feels her time in India at the start of this year has adequately prepared her for the Commonwealth Chess Championship in New Delhi this July.
February flew to India in December and toured the country with friends for a month as they competed in a number of tournaments in Mumbai, New Delhi and Chennai.
“We got a lot of experience there and even though I didn’t do too well, because they are really good at chess, we all came back much stronger,” said the former NMMU accounting student.
February, who has been playing chess since the age of seven, pitted her mental wits against some of the country’s younger players but found herself struggling to match their skill.
“I found that a 10-year-old there can be even better than some of our top players, which is quite scary.
“I played about 30 games over there and it gave me an opportunity to improve and work on my mistakes,” said the junior national champion, a title she won in Johannesburg in April.
It was her third consecutive win at the event and qualified her for the Commonwealth champs in New Delhi, India, in July, world junior champs in Italy in October and African junior champs in Togo in December.
In addition to her title in Johannesburg, February also won the Individual Chess Championships in Mauritius earlier this month.
The Port Elizabethan explained that chess was similar to other sports in that there were a number of ways one could prepare ahead of a big tournament.
“To train we make use of chess books. These are instructive books that detail old games that have been played and include comment from people.
“They are a good way to learn from the mistakes that others have made.”
However, February said these only helped up to a certain point and that it was important to spend time engaged in the practical aspect.
“You can study as much as you want, but if you don’t apply it then you’ll never learn,” she said.
The 20-year-old spends between two and four hours a day working towards her goal of achieving the highest honour in chess – that of grandmaster.
“At the moment I’m a woman international master and my goal is to go as high as I can. That would be grandmaster.
“There are many women who are above this point in the world, but not in South Africa.”