During the 2016 Gibraltar Tradewise Masters in Spain, GM Kenny Solomon was ask to give a “Master Class” and he obliged. The South African reviewed two games with GM Stuart Conquest. The first against GM Sebastian Bogner of (Switzerland) and the second against GM Robert Zelcic (Croatia). The latter game displaying the odd …Rg8!? but what unfolded was a very instructive example of position imbalances and how to develop the initiative on weak squares.
He gave a number of incisive lessons in both games particularly the idea of forcing moves. He also gave insight on how to develop an eye for combinations. While explaining the attack and the positioning of the pieces, he gave a “shoutout” to IM Watu Kobese who mentioned the concept of “talk to the pieces”. This was demonstrated in the second game after a move such as …Ng8, in typical positional style of Kobese. In addition, he revealed the African style of chess… “to grab pawns and to keep them” which provoked laughter.
After the Master Class, he gave a beautiful story about overcoming obstacles as a chess player. Asked if he felt good becoming the first South African Grandmaster, he mentioned that the journey was more important… the obstacles one has to overcome coming being so far away from competitive tournaments in Europe. Formerly he would play in one or two international tournaments a year, but now resides in Venice, Italy with his wife Veronica while teaching at their school.
When reflecting on his 2016 performance he said it was like eating salt and sugar at the same time. He learned bitter lessons, but the sweetness comes from learning and improving. He talks about his activities including a teaching stint in South African prisons. Parallels between chess and life are there. Very enjoyable class!