Caleb named SA’s junior chess player of the year

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Caleb Levitan, 8, became the youngest chess player to be named Junior Chess Player of the Year by Chess South Africa in December last year. While he is ranked number one, his twin brother, Judah, is number two. And these two just keep breaking South African chess records.
by JACK MILNER | Jan 24, 2019

In most cases, this award has gone to a youngster aged between 16 and 18, but then, the Levitans are forever breaking the mould.

The award for 2018 was presented by South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee Vice-President Barry Hendricks and Johannesburg Sports Confederation President Vicky Magoo at the South African Junior Chess Championships prize giving ceremony in Birchwood, Johannesburg, in December.

The ceremony recognised Caleb as the best Under-8 player in South Africa (along with Judah), and in Africa. His recent record-breaking achievement at the World Cadet Chess Championships in Santiago de Compostela in November was also acknowledged.

At this competition, Caleb achieved a score of 7.5 points out of 11. This is the highest points tally by a South African in any world event at any age. The score placed him 11th in the world in his age group on points.

Caleb and Judah represented Johannesburg Metro in the Under-10A section at the South African Junior Chess Championships. This is South Africa’s premier chess tournament, in which 2 300 junior chess players from around the country represent their province in a team championship.

Caleb was honoured by opening the tournament with an exhibition game against Super Grandmaster Wesley So (who was recently ranked number two in the world). After a tight battle, Wesley and Caleb agreed a draw.

“These juniors are strong, there are no walkovers,” said So. “They show that the future of South African chess is bright. These juniors are very young, some of them as young as eight, but they show a lot of character, resilience, and they really pushed the grandmaster to the limits.”

He reminded the youngsters what was most important as a chess player. “It’s not about winning or losing, but about competing and playing with your teammates... just giving your best and having fun.”

The Joburg Metro Under-10A team were led by Caleb and Judah on boards No 1 and No 2 respectively. The 10-person team earned silver, and Judah earned the board prize for best Under-10 player in the country on board No 2.

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