Chess has earned our school and its learners many accolades over the last few years, thanks to the dedication and selfless commitment of our chess co-ordinator, and now retired educator, Mary Baatjies, whose love for children and passion for the game helped to take our top players right through to the National tournaments.

This is her story:

Chess was always played at Sullivan. During the 1960’s girls were not allowed to participate in the game.

Inter school games were played during the Steenberg Schools Sport Union era as well as USSASA period. We were always the top school.

Unfortunately, when USSASA came to an end, most sports, including Chess became not existent, everything stopped. We had three boards and a few pieces left.

In 2006 our school became part of Hoops for Hope, who approached us for chess under the banner of Chess for Hope in the USA. We accepted this offer which led to the visit by DAVID MAC ENULTY with the launch of his film Knights of the South Bronx. Because of the background and socio-economic environment of our school, we identified very strongly with Mac Enulty’s story in the Bronx.

Chess was revived. Sullivan became the pilot school for CHESS FOR CHANGE, a Foundation headed by DAVID BERMAN, a chess fanatic who firmly believed that chess would influence all other learning areas positively. During this period the school was visited by Derek Watts and our chess programme featured on CARTE BLANCHE.

Lente Maré was the first co-ordinator appointed by Chess 4 Change to grades 1 to 3 only. The bigger children did receive formal lessons, but were given the opportunity during intervals and after school.

Lente was succeeded by Malcolm Fredericks and later Jacques Frick, who still teaches chess for one period per week from Grade 1 to 3. Chess lessons form a part of the Life Skills programme in the foundation Phase.

Another International visitor to our school was the first Black American Grandmaster, Maurice Ashley. Maurice excited the learners taking on two of best players simultaneously whilst he was blindfolded.

During 2009 we had 22 players receiving WESTERN PROVINCE colours and participated in the SA championship during June 2009 school at Wynberg Boys High school.

We then participated in most of the Western Province Youth games over weekends. WESLEY POWELL was our top player. The children always won medals from gold to silver at these games.

In 2010 7 players participated in the SOUTH AFRICAN YOUTH TOURNAMENT IN JOHANNESBERG.

WESLEY POWELL, CARLO BAATJIES, NIZAAM FERREIRA AND PATSY-LEE GEORGE represented the Western Province Youth, they also played in the individual tournament. They were joined by  ASWIN SMITH, KYLE JACOBS AND JODY COCHRANE. The children did quite well with Wesley bringing home a silver medal.

Since we rejoined the schools league, we went from strength to strength with children representing the district at Western Province level as well as WP at the Western Cape Province tournaments. names which feature every year – FIRDOUS THEBUS AND PATSY-LEE GEORGE, other girls who received Provincial colours NAZREEN SEWSUNKER AND JODIE HENDRICKS. We also had JODY COCHRANE representing the province the past few years.

In 2012 our under 13 girls team became the Western Cape Province Champions and played in the South African top schools championship in Pretoria during the December school holidays where they did quite well. They are all at Steenberg High and still playing together.

In 2013 both girl teams under 13 and 15 played din the top schools tournament of the Western Cape Province. The under 15 team lost by .5 and came second, the under 13 team came 4th.

Our latest champion being AIDEN FORTUIN receiving his WESTERN PROVINCE COLOURS at age 7 as well as representing the WESTERN PROVINCE YOUTH at the SOUTH AFRICAN JUNIOR CHESS CHAMPIONSHIP in DURBAN in December of 2013 in the Under 8 A team.

Mary Baatjies

Chess co-ordinator/Coach

Sullivan Primary School