Photo credit: Lennert Ootes Text: Stellenbosch Chess Club
In 1925 the 14 year old Mikhail Botvinnik defeated Jose Raoul Capablanca in a simultaneous exhibition in Leningrad. In 1964 the 13 year old Anatoly Karpov drew a game against Botvinnik in a simultaneous exhibition in Moscow. The 14 year old Karpov also drew a game against the future world champion Boris Spassky in Vladimir in 1965. In 2012 Daniel Barrish an 11 year old boy from Cape Town drew Garry Kasparov in a simultaneous match in Kayelitsha, Cape Town.
In 2018 the 12 year old Alexander van der Merwe from Western Province defeated the Super Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura during a record breaking simultaneous exhibition in Boksburg. Will Alexander follow in the footsteps of other young players to defeat world class players in simultaneous exhibitions? Only time will tell.
One thing is certain is that this talented player from Western Province ensured that the Western Province team at the SAJCC had a reason to shout “WP jou lekker ding!” Alexander also added several other scalps in winning the board prize for board 2 in the under 14 championship section.
Grandmaster Nakamura, on his first visit to South African, took on 101 players in a simultaneous exhibition match. He lost two games, one to Alexander van der Merwe and the other to Khanye Mazibuko, drew 7 and won the rest. During this marathon exhibition the Grandmaster made more than 3500 moves. The simultaneous exhibition was the largest of its kind ever conducted in Africa.
Nakamura is currently ranked 8th in the world and was previously ranked as high as number 2. He is also one of the few players who has a peak rating higher than 2800. He is a four time US Champion and is generally regarded as one of the best blitz players in the world.
Alexander van der Merwe is a pupil at Rhenish Primary School in Stellenbosch. He has an impressive record as a chess player. In March 2017 he won the B section of the WP Open Chess Championship. He was placed second at the SA Junior Closed Chess Championship for under 12s in April of 2017 thereby qualifying for national colours. He represented South Africa at the Commonwealth Chess Championship in India and also at the World Cadets Chess Campionships in Brazil in the under 12 division where he beat against amongst others the UK under 12 champion.
Alexander van der Merwe competes in the WP League in the Premier Division for the Stellenbosch Chess Club. Alexander is dedicated to his chess but is a balanced young man and also plays cricket, rugby and tennis at school.
See the Link to lichess.org for Alexander’s game against Grandmaster Nakamura. According to a strong chess engine Alexander had only one inaccuracy while the American Grandmaster made a blunder and four inaccuracies. This is a game which Alexander and Stellenbosch Chess can certainly be very proud of.