Chess genius Charlize wins international title

Shaun Gillham

PORT Elizabeth chess whiz Charlize van Zyl, 13, is making all the right moves to become a grand master.

She is the youngest South African to win a World Chess Federation title.

The Grade 8 pupil at Collegiate Girls’ High School took home the women’s division title of the federation’s 2013 Zone’s 4.3 Individual Championships in Botswana.

She beat adults from South Africa, Botswana and Zambia.

“It is only starting to really sink in now,” she said.

“But I can tell you that it felt great to take the trophy in front of all those adults.”

Charlize has already notched up years of top-level chess experience.

She was able to enter the championships after a number of high-ranking South Africans decided not to play in Botswana.

Charlize’s proud father, Marius van Zyl, said he was thrilled with his daughter’s win. He is vice-president of Chess South Africa.

“She surprised us all. It was fantastic,” he said.

Charlize will compete in the African championships next year.

“Funding is one of the issues we are dealing with and she will be needing sponsors,” Van Zyl said.

The highly motivated champion has also played chess in Slovenia and France.

“I practise about three times a week and play in tournaments just about every weekend,” she said.

But it is not all just about chess.

“I also play hockey and take music lessons and do other activities.”

One day she hopes to study journalism or psychiatry.

“But I first aim to take two years off after school to go overseas and play chess.”

She said Europe offered the greatest competition.

“I need to do this in order to be able to become a grand master.”

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