Kobese and Van Tonder lock horns in South African Match!

South Africa has decided to capitalize off of the momentum of the South Africa Open and duly set up a "Champion of Champions" match to end the current speculation about whether IM Watu Kobese would have won the tournament had he played.

South Africa

Of course, these speculations are only good for debating purposes, but nevertheless this match hopes to put to rest this question. Both players have made predictions  in the result of this match Kobese predicts a 7-0 whitewash while Ronnie Van Tonder promises a triumph of his famous opponent by administering relentless punishment over the board.

IM Amon Simutowe, who has been in South Africa for the past month preparing for future FIDE tournaments, will provide on-site commentary and game analysis. This match is sponsored by HOLLBAY International and the venue is THE DON  SUITES Hotel.

Game 1: Van Tonder-Kobese, 0-1.
In the first of seven match games, IM Watu Kobese broke out to a 1-0 lead with a convincing win from the  Black side of a Two Knights Game.  Black appeared to equalize early and side-stepped white's attempts to rush the Black king. Right at the beginning of the endgame, Van Tonder ignominiously  blundered a pawn and the rest was a matter of technique.

Match Score: Kobese 1 -- Van Tonder 0

Game 2: Kobese-Van Tonder, 1-0.
Van Tonder decided to stir up things with the sharp 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 f5!? Watu went for the king to exploit his opponent's ambitious choice of moves. Black's trump was to harass white's exposed king. Van Tonder was able to get some counter play, but Kobese maintained composure and closed out the game by demonstrating a win from the Lucena position.

Match Score: Kobese 2 -- Van Tonder 0

Game 3: Van Tonder-Kobese, 0-1.
In game three, Van Tonder attempted to close the center, but that gave Kobese free reign on the Kingside. White bishops were impotent under the avalanche of black pawns. Instead of waiting for the enemy to come storming through the door, Van Tonder attempted to stir up complications by sacking a piece, but the attack died as did his dreams of pulling off the win.

Match Score: Kobese 3 -- Van Tonder 0

Game 4: Kobese-Van Tonder, 1-0.
In the most exciting game yet, Van Tonder unleashed his deadly fire-breathing Dragon! Both sides went for mate, but it was Van Tonder who would've crashed through first had he played 26Ba2!! Breathing fire, Van Tonder's bore in with 29Qe3 and appeared to have a winning attack until Kobese uncorked the brilliant combination 30.Rf8+ Kd7 31.Rxd6+!

Match Score: Kobese 4 -- Van Tonder 0

Game 5: Van Tonder-Kobese, 0-1.
This game appears to be the defining moment for Van Tonder. Coming off a good performance in Game #4, a win in this game would've salvaged some respectability. This game was over before it started. Van Tonder choice of opening is not the best hope of obtaining a lasting initiative and allowed black to set the pace of the game. Watu won in a complete rout.

Match Score: Kobese 5 -- Van Tonder 0

Game 6: Kobese-Van Tonder, 1-0.
IM Kobese continued his relentless pounding of the South African Open Champ.  This game transposed into a Ruy Lopez after the initial 1.e4 c5. Watu didn't want to feel the heat of Van Tonder's Dragon (see game 4)! After black's 14 d5, the game had the potential to be a tough struggle, but Van Tonder overextended and his queenside collapsed.

Match Score: Kobese 6 -- Van Tonder 0

Game 7: Van Tonder-Kobese, 0-1.
For some reason, Van Tonder repeated the same disastrous line from Game #5. Kobese made a speculative exchange sac and mounted pressure on white's perilously centralized king. Van Tonder had winning chances, but with missiles blazing from every direction, he decided to scurry to queenside safety only to lose his queen to a final parting shot.

Match Score: Kobese 7 -- Van Tonder 0

Post-Match Commentary: Experience appeared to be the key in this match in that Kobese (with world-class match experience) understood exactly what he needed to employ against a less-experienced opponent. On the other hand, Van Tonder played opening systems suited more for exciting blitz than for serious match play. His failure to hold the initiative with the white pieces allowed Kobese to routinely equalize in the first 10 moves. Perhaps, he should've adjusted his openings a bit. In Game #4 Van Tonder played himself into a winning position, but  the other games were clearly controlled by the pace of Kobese. See Final Report here.

Posted by The Chess Drum: 4 August 2002