Arav Jugree in the chess tournament.
Arav Jugree in the chess tournament.

KZN chess champ sets sights on national game

By Nonjabulo Bhengu Time of article published Dec 2, 2021

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Durban: From recently winning the under-13 provincial schools chess tournament, Arav Jugree is now preparing for the national competition.

The grade six pupil at Virginia Preparatory School was recently invited to a gala dinner hosted by the KZN Department of Sport and Recreation and the KZN Sport Confederation, where he received a token of appreciation.

The 12-year-old said this was for his achievements.

Arav, who recently got his full Protea colours, represented South Africa in the All Africa Youth Championships in Ghana in September and ranked sixth overall in his age division.

He said at last month's provincial schools' chess tournament at the Coastlands Hotel in the Durban CBD, he won six games and drew one.

"This made me the current KZN under-13 chess champion. It was an amazing feeling. The SA schools chess tournament will be held from December 15 to 20. This is where teams from every province will play. The details will still be confirmed by the Department of Sport and Recreation."

Arav said he was four when his dad, Anil Jugree, introduced him to chess, and he had since surpassed his father's skill level.

Arav said he played his first formal chess tournament in grade three and that he had never stopped competing.

“Chess is captivating and requires plenty of thinking, power and skill,” said Arav.

He said he looked up to Magnus Carlsen, a Norwegian chess grandmaster, and that his goal was to someday become a grandmaster himself.

Apart from chess, Arav plays the piano and recently completed his grade one piano exam.

Eric Takawira, who has been coaching Arav in chess since 2018, said: “I coach other children in chess, but what I picked up about Arav is that he is quite mature for a grade six learner."

Takawira said Arav's success had made him proud. He said winning at big chess tournaments was not a small feat.

“Coaches like talking so much when a child wins tournaments, which takes the glory away from the child. My job was to assist where I could, but Arav did all the planning,” said Takawira.

Arav's younger brother, Abhay, also represented South Africa in the All Africa Youth Championships.

Their dad said chess helped in a child's mental development and that it encouraged strategic and creative thinking.

"It also shapes who you are and encourages academic learning in a fun environment."

Jugree said he was proud of his children and that he hoped they reached their goals of becoming chess grandmasters.

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