Levitan twin triumph at African Chess Championship

  • Sport24August2
Proud father Shaun Levitan puts it best of all when speaking about his chess playing twins, Judah and Caleb: “The chess adventure continues”.
by JACK MILNER | Aug 23, 2018

The seven-year-old twins were officially declared the best under-8 chess players in Africa when they won the African Youth Chess Championship in Kisumu, Kenya, on Sunday.

The pair, both pupils at King David Sandton Primary School, have been playing for only about two years, and have proved exceptional.

In April, Judah and Caleb finished first and second respectively in the South African Junior Chess Championships held in Johannesburg and, in doing so, were the only chess players in their age group to be awarded their Junior National Colours.

This meant they were invited to participate in three international tournaments this year: the Commonwealth Chess Championships in New Delhi, India, in June and July 2018; the African Youth Chess Championships in Kisumu, from 12 to 19 August; and the World Cadet Chess Championships in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, from 3 to 16 November.

The Levitans decided not to go to the Commonwealth event in India because it would interfere too much with the boys’ schooling. However, after some consideration, they decided the boys should go to Kenya.

Not much was expected from Judah and Caleb. This tournament plays host to the best juniors on the continent from countries registered with the World Chess Federation (FIDE), and is open to youngsters in under-8, under-10, under-12, under-14, under-16, and under-18 age groups.

In the opening round, Caleb came up against Yi-Xuan Liang, also from South Africa, while Judah played Zack Oundo Okumu of Tanzania. Both Levitan boys won, and in the next round, they had to play one another. They clearly know each other’s games very well, and that ended up as a draw, so they shared the points.

That was as close as either came to losing a match. They went on to win all of their games, both finishing with 8.5 points.

Third place went to David George Wahba of Egypt, who lost only two matches in the entire tournament – and that was to Caleb and Judah.

“The boys saw off the best of Algeria, Egypt, Namibia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Zambia,” Levitan said. “It was surreal to watch them on stage as our national anthem played.”

This is the first time a South African has won the under-8 African chess champion title, and the first time twins have finished with 8.5/9 in a FIDE regional tournament.

Besides the title of African Chess Champions, the twin’s achievement has earned them the provisional FIDE title of Candidate Master, and an invitation to the World Cadet Chess Championships to be held in China in 2019.


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