“Moves for Life” launched in S. Africa

President Jacob Zuma makes ceremonial move to launch initiative. Photo by Supreme Chess Trust.

President Jacob Zuma makes ceremonial move to launch initiative.
Photo by Supreme Chess Trust.

In a sign of good things to come, the Supreme Chess Trust launched “Moves for Life” program on October 24th at a gala event. President Jacob Zuma, a self-described chess player, gave the keynote address. Other dignitaries present were Mrs. Angie Motshekga, Minister of Education and Mr. Gert Oosthuizen, the Minister of Sports and Recreation.

FIDE was represented by Vice President Ali Nihat Yazici and African Union Vice President Lewis Ncube. CHESSA President Emilia Ellapen and other members of the chess community were present. FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov sent a congratulatory message from Kalmykia.

Supreme Chess Trust board member IM Watu Kobese described the initiative:

The SCT was started in 2008 by Mrs. Marisa van der Merwe, IM Watu Kobese and Mr. Mickey Scheepers, as a community outreach project from the sports academy of Waterkloof High School. It has grown from strength to strength, and more trustees who are leaders in their fields have since joined. The main idea of the Moves for Life programme is to teach and train chess, not necessarily as a sport, but a logic and lateral thinking training intervention for maths and science education. The spin-offs for all other areas including chess as a sport will obviously be nurtured. Two legs to the MFL programme are mini-chess and master moves programme. Mini-chess focuses on grades one, two and three. Teachers are trained and provided with necessary material for fun and easy lessons to give to six to eight-year-olds.

The President with trustees of the Supreme Chess Trust.

The President with trustees of the Supreme Chess Trust.

President Zuma gave his remarks and during his speech he reflected on how he learned the game during his 10-year stint as a prisoner on the notorious Robben Island. On the island, the prisoners made chess sets out of cardboard and corks. It was this diversion that helped to strengthen in such harsh conditions. He extolled the virtues of chess and reaffirmed the notion that chess is indeed a sport. He spoke fluently about the virtues of chess and its application in helping to shape the minds of tomorrow’s thinkers.

I agreed to be a patron and attend this launch because I believe that the time has come for us to mainstream chess as a sport in our country. Contrary to popular belief, chess is a serious sport, and it is a game that young people should be encouraged to take part in. It is an important game in many respects, the main benefit being that it contributes to the development of strategic thinking as well as concentration, analytical skills and problem solving. These are traits that are very important for school going children. (read full speech)

President Zuma with some of the beneficiaries of the program.

Beneficiaries of the “Moves of Life” program.

See article and speech at ChessBase!


  1. Hi
    Am a montessori / pgce student-teacher and interested in the chess programme so I can learn to teach students in Swaziland!

    My contact email above or cellphone number…+268 7603 7694

  2. Like to know more.
    Teaching maths in primary school, finding kids getting poorer and poorer.
    Please help.

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