Co-Written by: Victor Chimbamu
Born in the capital city of Windhoek, Namibia, on the 17th day of January 2003, Dante Matthew Beukes has developed and evolved over the years to become Namibian National Champion, as well as one of the youngest African Chess Olympian. And Africa Chess Media just had to do a piece on this African prodigy, who would be battling International Masters and Grandmasters at the upcoming Africa Individual Chess Championship, holding in Livingstone, Zambia.
Due to parental movements, Dante lived in Keetmanshoop and Okahandja for about a combined total of two (2) years, as he was growing up, but has spent most of his young life in Windhoek, developing, schooling and playing chess. Dante currently attends St George’s Diocesan College, Windhoek, and he is currently in grade nine (9).
Growing up was quite interesting for the chap and Dante learned how to play chess at the age of seven (7), being taught by Mr Williamson, who was the chess coach at his school’s chess club.
Dante’s Journey to National Champion
But Dante did not participate in any tournament until about a year later, when he was eight (8) years old. It was a team competition and his school registered two (2) teams. As a starter, he was put into the B-team and scored a life changing zero (0) point of seven (7) games. No draws, no wins, just outright loses, as he fell to every cheap trick in the book.
The following year, Dante was enrolled at The Weekend Chess Academy, which was and still is being run by Fide Instructor Max Nitzborn, a patient and understanding coach, who broke down all he needed to know about the game. And from finishing with zero (0) points in a seven (7) round tournament at the primary schools competition, he became the Namibia Under ten (10) National Champion and represented Namibia at the World Youth Championships in Slovenia.
Dante continued to grow in strength and obtained obtained his Candidate Master title at the Africa Schools Individual Chess Championship, Botswana in 2015. And within the coming year 2016, Dante became the youngest player to qualify for the Namibia Men’s Olympiad team.
Later that year, Dante qualified and received his Fide Master title with another brilliant performance at the Africa Schools in Zambia to become the second and youngest FM in Namibia.
In 2017, the Namibia Chess Federation decided to change the system of the National Championship by having two (2) phases, the qualifier and the closed. The qualifier was a nine (9) round Swiss tournament, and Dante finished in second (2nd) place, just behind CM Charles Eichab. And a few weeks later, the closed championship was held. This was a nine (9) game Round Robin tournament, with the top ten (10) players from the qualifiers and it was going to be Dante who would win the championship ahead of the top players at the event and the become the youngest Namibian National Champion at age 14.
Dante on African Soil
Dante was one of the youngest players at the age of fifteen (15) years, who took part in the Africa Zone 4.3 Individual Chess Championship, held in Maputo, Mozambique, sometime last month. Even though he was one of the least rated at the event, he ended the tournament with four (4) points and gained eighty six (86) ELO rating points.
He defeated Kela Siame Kaulule (ELO 2191) and Candidate Master Musatwe Simutowe (ELO 2239), both of Zambia, in the opening two (2) rounds, after which he lost to the better informed duo of Aderito Pedro (ELO 2323) and Domingos Catarino (ELO 2253), both of Angola, before picking up a draw against Prince Daniel Mulenga (ELO 2249) of Zambia.
The three Zambian players are part of the team that qualified to represent Zambia at the World Chess Olympiad, to be held in Batumi, Georgia, from the 23rd of September to the 6th of October, 2018. This was a great feat for the fifteen (15) year old Namibian, as he held his own against players whose ratings were much higher than his and gained some good rating points to boost his goal for the year.
And after this event, he participated in the Kasparov Chess Foundation Africa Invitational Tournament, The KCF Capablanca Open B section, where he finished joint first position with Masiya Mfundo of South Africa, who happened to be the only player he lost to at the tournament.
When his father was asked about his son’s future, as to where he sees the boy prodigy in four years time, laughing, he said, that he hopes to see a 2400+ player.
But when Dante was asked about his goal for the year and his long term goal, he responded thus: “My goal for this year was to get my rating to ELO 2000, which I have already done by quite a margin, judging by my performances in the past months. So, I will just be trying to improve on my strength. And as for the long term, naturally, I want to be a Grandmaster. I think everyone wants this as well, or at least dreams about it. In my personal life, I don’t know what I would like to do yet, but i believe I will figure it out sooner rather than later.
Dante is currently one of the Namibian contingents participating at the Africa Individual Chess Championship starting tomorrow, playing against the very best from all over Africa. Even though he has represented Namibia at the World Chess Olympiad, this would be a huge platform for him to make a huge statement to Africa, that there is a prodigy becoming a top player in Namibia!