Before her 14th birthday, Nicola Tjaronda had already won the Namibian Chess Federation (NCF) in 2012, an accolade every local chess player dreams of.
Born in Windhoek 16 years ago, Tjaronda has become a household name in local chess since joining the sport in 2009 and says if it were not for her uncle, she wouldn’t have reached this far.
“My uncle, Albert Tjaronda, introduced me to the sport. I remember him taking my brothers and I to The Weekend Chess Academy (TWCA) at Orban Primary School in Windhoek one day. I love chess only but if I had to play another sport, football would do,” says Tjaronda.
All you need to play chess is a brain capable of logical thought. Whether you’re male or female, young or old, fit or unfit, able-bodied or disabled, all you need when you face your opponent is logic, Tjaronda says.
Chess is also regarded as an intellectual game and players are accorded public respect and admiration but the Grade 10 student at Jan Mohr Secondary School does not believe so.
“Although you must know a bit of mathematics to play chess, because you need to calculate, you don’t have to be intelligent like many people assume. Basic mathematics will get you far,” she says.
Since winning the NCF, Tjaronda has won other titles such as the 2013 Kehat Beukes Memorial Chess Tournament in the female category and the Junior Championship in Swakopmund, albeit losing in the Junior Championship opener.
She says her triumph has since helped her become a better player but she is worried about the slow pace the sport is taking to flourish in Namibia.
“I won a trophy and a framed certificate in 2012, which were a shock, as I did not expect to win. I can’t recall the amount I won, though. Last year, however, I was disappointed for losing all the titles such as the opener. I have a big dream but the problem is, there are no resources to make a grandmaster in the country. I man not sure for how long I will be playing chess, though, because I might be studying or busy with work in 10 to 15 years from now.”
This year brings along a lot of excitement to the local chess fraternity, as a number of events are planned to ignite and uplift the sport in Namibia, including the Zone 4.3.
The Zone 4.3 is a prestigious World Chess Federation (WCF) tournament held for Southern African Development Community (Sadc)-based chess players to qualify for the Chess World Cup. Obviously, Tjaronda wants to be part of it.
Additionally, the NCF calendar will be hosting the highly anticipated Namibian National Chess Championship slated for mid-April this year.
“I have played in many tournaments before against some stiff opponents but I cannot single out who was my toughest. I can, however, say they have all been very good players. It’s the dream of any chess player to play at the highest level and the upcoming tournaments are exactly that,” says Tjaronda.