14:48, Thursday, 2nd March, 2017

We wish to thank CM Charles Eichab for submitting this comprehensive report from Namibia where GM Pontus Carlsson completed the second leg of his tour last week!

----------------

Namibia has historically faced a perennial problem when attempting to grow our membership and make chess more accessible to the ordinary man on the street. The country is sparsely populated and we encounter problems in many areas of social development from which the game of chess has not been spared.

The chess project that has been sponsored by the Paul Allen Foundation and Kasparov Chess Foundation Africa have assisted to fill the void and has every potential to create a great multiplier effect. Namibia is a not accustomed to high level chess visits especially by Grandmasters. As a country, we thirst for such high level chess training and GM Carlsson’s visit could thus not have been more apt.

PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS

16 February 2017
GM Pontus arrived in Namibia on the afternoon of Thursday 16 February 2017 and was received at the Hosea Kutako Airport some 40kms to the east of Windhoek. He was taken to his hotel with the evening spent acclimatizing.

17 February 2017
The formal program started early in the morning with a visit to the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) which is the leading broadcaster in Namibia. The Grandmaster was hosted on the breakfast show where he explained the aims and objectives of his visits and of the program in general.

In the afternoon, he competed in a Simultaneous Exhibition against National Team players, National Junior Players, ordinary members of society, school children, club players and passer’s by. The GM won all his games except for draws against Goodwill Khoa and Namibian National Champion CM Charles Eichab. The exhibition proved to be a great event which managed to market chess both to the public and to local corporates.

18 February 2017
The 12 selected trainees convened for their first training session. The GM explained that he has divided the training into 3 components: Opening, Middle Game and Endgames and demonstrated how to approach each of the 3 phases as well as the methodologies of teaching them.

After 3-hours we had lunch followed by a brief class session and them theme blitz on a selected opening as shown in classes. The GM carefully analyzed the games and addressed our shortcomings and deficiencies. It was highly instructive stuff.

19-20 February 2017
Training continued with opening themes and tactics after time spent reviewing the homework from the previous day. After a break, we started middle game theory and play-outs with some themed middle game positions. The trainees were asked to download Chessbase 14 and were required to explore and navigate the program and prepare for a virtual opponent.

21-22 February 2017
The GM demonstrated how to use Chessbase powerfully and showed various techniques to navigate and prepare against opponents. He also showed end-game theory. Trainees were given a practical task to prepare for Robert Gwaze. The GM was interested in the quality of the preparation. On the 22nd, we went deeper into the process of gaining insights on the opposition using Chessbase data. The training was concluded with endgame theory.

23 February 2017
On the final day we staged on school visit for the GM which was a huge success. We had a session with 60 learners from the school and spent time with the Principal and the organizing teacher Mr. Mushinga. The GM give a motivational briefing to all the learners and conducted a beginner class for all. Afterwards, he took on the top 20 students in a simultaneous exhibition. The school trip was a huge success and will soon be in the papers. The afternoon was spent at the Mall in Namibia where a lunch was held with members of the Namibia Chess Federation.

24 February 2017
The GM departed for Zambia at 06h50 where he would complete the 3rd and final leg of his tour.

CONCLUSION

The visit of GM Pontus has generated great momentum and left the trainees wanting more. They are eager to continue the course with the next Master. GM Pontus proved to be a top-class teacher with great insight into the intricacies of the game and his ability to execute the course material was excellent.