South Africa hosts the Commonwealth

Graham Jurgensen has written a report on ChessBase about the ongoing Commonwealth Championship taking place in Ekurhuleni, South Africa. The tournament began June 25th and has drawn over 700 participants including top-seed GM Nigel Short and a strong Indian contingent. There are fifteen countries represented at the event with 309 South Africans, 24 from India and 19 from Botswana. The tournament runs until July 4th.

Main Site (Chess South Africa)
Standings (
Games (PGN)
ChessBase report (Graham Jurgensen)

Opening Ceremony of Commonwealth Championships

Video by Vijay Kumar.


  1. Rounds #1-3

    No surprises in first couple of rounds of the Commonwealth Championship as all the favorites among the top boards have won comfortably. There were a few draw upsets with a few IMs and two Indian GMs being scratched for half-point GMs Abhijit Kunte and Rajaram Laxman were held by WFM Ivana Furtado and Tafira Tinashe, respectively. Nigel Short leads with 3-0 along with 36 other players with a perfect 3-0. Local hero IM Watu Kobese is also on 3-0 as the “African Lion” will try to hold home turf among the crowd.

    Videos by Vijay Kumar

  2. Nigel makes some interesting comments about playing two games in a day. He said it should be banned. I cannot say I disagree in theory, but I’m not sure about the practicality in such ideas.

  3. Rounds #4-5

    Favored players are still dominating affairs at the Commonwealth Championships, but titled players began facing each other in round five.

    In round five, Nigel Short stayed on a perfect score with a technical win over local hero Watu Kobese in a London System. In the first big upset a titled player, FM Nicholas Van Der Nat beat GM David Smerdon of Australia. FM Daniel Jere played well against GM Abhijeet Gupta and gained an initiative in a rook ending, but the Indian held a trivial ending. Jere has played well in the past months and his ELO rating continues to climb. Providence Oatlhotse of Botswana is also on 5-0 after beating Prathamesh Mokal, an Indian IM. South African FM Dennis Cawdery drew IM Dronavali Harika in a Benko Gambit.

    The visiting players are finding the tough going against African players who crave stronger competition and whose ratings are naturally deflated.

    Pairings/Results (round by round):

    Videos by Vijay Kumar

  4. If someone can post daily reports, that would be very helpful. There is also no comprehensive account of the games. There are also errors in the games from the live server. For example, there is the Grover-Mamombe result showing 0-1 when it is clearly 1-0. They also show Mamombe hanging his queen and Grover not taking it. Please assist.

    Thank you.

  5. What a pity Henry Steel, Kenny Solomon, Amon Simutowe, Robert Gwaze and Ahmed Adly is not playing. Would have been great to see them clash with the likes of Nigel Short and the other GM’s. We might have gotten our first African Commonwealth Chess Champion… but there is still hope! Go Africa!

  6. Rounds #6-7

    Crucial games in South Africa. Gawain Jones of England pulled out front of the as his GM compatriot Nigel Short was held by Indian junior Grover Sahaj in round six. With four rounds remaining, Jones sits atop the field with 6.5/7 or +6 with 15 players behind him at 6/7.

    Video by Vijay Kumar.

    Round seven saw no upsets of GMs, but IM Eesha Karavade of India lost to unheralded Jason Davies of South Africa. Round eight will feature Short-Jones on board one. Top African performer thus far has been IM-elect Daniel Jere of Zambia. He will face GM David Smerdon and will be looking for a scalp. IM Watu Kobese will face the talented IM from India, Harika Dronavali.

  7. Note: Since my coverage was lost on the last four rounds (due to an error by my hosting company), I’ll try to re-create what I remember from it.

    Rounds #8-9

    There was an improbable leader after nine rounds as local player Nicholas van der Nat vaulted into the lead with two rounds remaining. He beat two IMs Germany’s Niclas Huschenbeth and India’s Sahaj Grover in succession to pull ahead of Nigel Short and Gawain Jones by 1/2 point with 8/9.

    Van der Nat made a very poignant statement in the interview after round nine stating that his purpose was to play Nigel Short and to play strong competition. That sums up the situation in Africa and why players there are so hungry… and dangerous! If you come to Africa, be ready!

    Videos by Vijay Kumar.

  8. Rounds #10-11

    GM Gawain Jones

    GM Gawain Jones wins the 2011 Commonwealth Championship on tiebreaks over GM Nigel Short with 9.5/11. The two English nationals won both of their last two games to overtake the field. GM David Smerdon of Australia was third with 9/11.

    IM Harika Dronavali just missed her last GM norm.

    FM Nicholas van der Nat, the leader after nine rounds lost his last two games to fall out of contention. He ended on 8/11 as did the “African Lion”, IM Watu Kobese. The top African scorer was FM Daniel Jere of Zambia with 8.5/11. Zambia is clearly one of the most promising federations in sub-Saharan Africa.

    The top female player was Indian International Master Eesha Karavade with 8.5/11. Harika Dronavali followed with 8/11, and matched by her compatriots Swati Ghate and Meenakshi Subbaraman.

    Videos by Vijay Kumar.

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