Anika sets her sights on chess success in India

Talented player Anika du Plessis knows that chess is all about making the right moves at the right time.
Anika, a member of the NWU’s chess team, says one of the perks of playing chess is meeting interesting people from all over the world.
Last year, 19-year old Anika was crowned African Chess champion in the women’s category for her age group.

Chess is all about making the right moves at the right time.


Anika du Plessis (19), a first-year student in biochemistry and microbiology on the NWU’s campus in Potchefstroom, knows this very well. Move for move, she strategised her way to the title of African Chess champion in the women’s category for her age group.


Anika, who was crowned in Uganda at the end of last year, is no stranger to winning titles. She was also Woman International Chess Master in 2018 – a feat that only 13 other South Africans could muster before.


She is currently riding the wave of chess success and now has her sights set on winning in the World Junior Championships in New Delhi in October.


From novice to master


Mastering the chess board started early for Anika.


She discovered her love for the game as a Grade 3 schoolgirl. This love was more than just enthusiasm and it soon became apparent that she was a talented player. It led to her competing in the provincial chess championships at the age of 11.


“I just kept on playing, competing and enjoying every minute of it,” says Anika, who is now part of the NWU’s chess team.


The team’s coach is Dr Johan Steenkamp of the School of Ancient Language and Text Studies on the  campus in Potchefstroom. They are currently preparing for the University Sports South Africa (USSA) championships later this year.


Surprise selection pays off


Being selected to compete in the African Chess Championships initially came as a big surprise for Anika. Each country that is registered at the African Chess Confederation can only send two male and two female players to compete in the championships.


Anika came third during the Springbok Trials’ qualifying round in 2018 and when one of the others players could not attend, she had the opportunity to step in. “I only found out four days before the event that I would be able to play. We had to finalise arrangements in a hurry but I was fortunate enough to do it.”


A tough game


Anika says the game lasted between five and six hours and was very intense.


“We played nine rounds and each player only had an hour and a half to play for the first 40 moves, followed by 30 minutes of further play. The time limit for each move after that was only 30 seconds. It was quite tough but I managed to do it successfully.”


She says although she considers her whole chess career as a highlight and winning in the African Chess Championships is surely one on its own, there is one event that still stands out. “It was the first time I had the opportunity to compete overseas. We went to Slovakia and I was mesmerised by the tranquil environment we played in. It made a lasting impression.”

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