Young chess star wins SA Junior Championships
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JOHANNESBURG youngster Kajol Naidoo was recently crowned the winner of the South African Junior Chess Championships. The Grade 4 Radford House pupil faced off against 24 girls from the U-10 division before that was reduced to 16 following the knockout stages. She went on to prevail in the championship that was held online because of the pandemic. “The competition was tough and I’m ecstatic to have won. It being online was different as you don’t get to touch pieces or interact with your opponents and there was no socialising,” said the former African Continental Girls U8 Champion. The 10-year-old Naidoo won a challenging final against Minentle Miya from Khotsong in the North West Province. “The final was Armageddon as we drew the previous games 1-1. This meant we needed a decider and I was on the back foot playing black with one minute less and I managed to win with 11 seconds on my clock and 0.3 on my opponent’s. “It was very stressful but I stayed calm and all my coaching and practice paid off,” said Naidoo. The pandemic has meant reduced travel and has been challenging for Naidoo, however she has remained active by practising online. “The fun of having my coach and friends one on one with me have been removed and the excitement of tournaments is gone with the games also now being shorter. I have been complying to all the lockdown levels and protocols and have played a lot of games online. As soon as the lockdown regulations eased I travelled and played a lot over the board as well,” she said. Naidoo’s father Gerard is proud of her achievement. “As parents, my wife Tarnia and I are proud of her constantly striving to be the best that she can be. She keeps pushing herself. She is extremely disciplined and dedicated and puts in a huge amount of time with her coach Craig Bornheim and then practices a lot and plays in a lot of tournaments, often sacrificing other fun events in the process,” he said. Naidoo’s success in chess is nothing new. In 2020, she scooped the School Sports Athlete of the Year and Sports Achiever of the Year at the Johannesburg Women in Sports Awards. In February 2020, she was also named as the Gauteng Primary School Female Athlete of the Year. In June 2019, she represented South Africa at the Commonwealth Chess Championship in India and took part in the World Chess Cadets Championship in China in August 2019.