This event has been a phenomenon, drawing crowds of chess players from all over the country. The tournament became the most popular chess tournament in the country and has also been recognized by international chess body FIDE. Since this tournament is focused on development, more and more rural areas have been inspired to participate in chess and attend the event. The Patron attends the tournament, not only as a spectator or an official, but as a chess player himself. On many occasions the Patron has used the opportunity provided to educate the youth about important life concepts such as the issues of discipline, respect, fairness and even warning them about the dangers of drugs, cigarettes and alcohol.


Launched in 2014, and endorsed by the KZN Department of Basic Education, the Jacob G Zuma Foundation started a pilot project with twenty schools, (13 Primary and 7 High) around the district of Ilembe. This program is called JGZF CHESS IN SCHOOLS. All the schools selected to be part of this project had never been introduced in the game of chess or participated in any chess tournament. Although they did not know the game, they were eager to learn. Each school was provided with 25 tables especially designed for playing chess. The schools were also given 25 chess sets, 1 demonstration board and a training manual. As the program rolled out in 2015, educators were trained to teach chess and, in some schools, headmasters also became part of the chess workshops as they too were interested in learning the game of chess. In less than two years, more than 1000 pupils were introduced to chess. Some neighboring schools are also benefitting from the project. The JGZF Chess In Schools also provided the schools with a fulltime chess coach who visits each school to help the educators with training and coaching and hosting tournament. During the winter school holidays in 2015, the 20 schools, comprising of 200 students, came together to compete in the JGZF CHESS CHAMPIONSHIP. The coach visits each schools and spends about an hour or more with the students depending on the time allocated by each school. In some schools more than 50% of the learners were introduced in chess within 2 years of the program. The schools selected are spread out throughout the district, with all circuits included. The names of the schools that are in the JGZF CHESS IN SCHOOLS are as follows, Primary schools are: Thekelimfundo Primary, Melville Primary, Shakaskraal Primary, Imbewenhle Primary, Mlamulankunzi Primary, Deda Primary, Mkhambeni Primary, KwaNokusho Primary, Ubuhlebemfundo Primary, Dludla Primary, Umvozane Primary, Mbonqeni Primary and New Guiderland Primary. High Schools are: Mathubesizwe High, Nonhlevu High, Impoqabulungu High, Lihlithemba High, Isibanisezwe High, Vukile High and Kranskop High. Some schools report that their enrolment is growing due to the chess program. Others praise the game of chess for the discipline, still others credit chess for the increase pass rate academically. Because of financial disadvantages, some of the schools have the game of chess as the only sport code they can take part in. The educators of the foundation phase are beginning to introduce the game to grade 1’s and they are now using the game of chess to teach various concepts such as identification, shapes and counting.