IM Watu Kobese silenced the skeptics with the completion of his predicted 7-0 victory over South African Champion, NM Ronnie Van Tonder. The match came about when speculation surfaced whether IM Kobese would've won the tournament had he been present. Having GMs Peter Leko and Judit Polgar (both of Hungary) among his many victims, Kobese set out to prove to skeptics that his reputation is genuine.
Coming off an impressive win in the South African Open, Van Tonder was confident and the "showdown" became highly-anticipated. What followed were negotiations for match conditions, securing of sponsorship, and the selection of a site venue. After all the pieces were in place, the match began. The buzz over the match increased when both players made predictions on the match result.
The first half of the match (Game #1, Game #2, and Game #4) was indeed exciting as both players displayed fighting chess. However, in the second half of the match, Van Tonder appeared to lose the energy he had displayed earlier. Given his style, perhaps an Open Sicilian (Game #3) may have offered more prospects out of the opening for the South African Open Champ. After a disaster in Game #5, Van Tonder played the opening in Game #6 very well, and computer engine Fritz had black slightly better after 19…Ne8. In Game #7, Kobese took risks in the opening and certainly gave Van Tonder a chance to salvage a win. Fritz evaluated Van Tonder as winning after 12.Nc3, but the position is quite complicated. Experience was certainly a defining factor in the match.
All in all, the match received a lot of publicity, and Jackie Ngubeni stated that crowds packed the playing site to witness this historic "Champion of Champions" event. After the match local media was buzzing about trying to get the story from the match participants and match officials. This tournament had the makings of a boxing match with pre-match predictions and the fact that the match to determine the KING of South African chess was played at THE DON Hotel… or to determine the DON KING (that's Jackie's joke!)
Congratulations to the South African chess community and the IM Watu Kobese and NM Ronnie Van Tonder for their ground-breaking match! Certainly it was good for African chess and hopefully, it will not be the last!
See, "Kobese and Van Tonder lock horns in South African Match!"
See, "IM Kobese predicts 7-0 crush of Match Challenger!!"
Download all games in PGN format
Posted by The Chess Drum: 6 August 2002