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Home News Chess Champ ready to compete at September’s FISU Championship Mind Sports

Chess Champ ready to compete at September’s FISU Championship Mind Sports

Bridge 18 August 2022

Nico Martin 1


German-born but raised in the southern suburbs of Cape Town, top Maties Chess Club player Nico Martin has been one of the club’s rising stars who is set to represent country and university at the upcoming 2022 FISU World University Championship Mind Sports in Antwerp, Belgium later this year.


Born in Munich, at the age of 2 the family moved to Claremont, Cape Town. Here Nico began participating in sports like tennis, hockey, and football that he would play in school and also for an external club until he was in grade 7.


Nico Martin (1)“I played soccer for a club during the time that I was in primary school, while in high school mostly played hockey and tennis,” Martin explained.


It wasn’t until he was 12 years old that he started participating in chess tournaments, despite learning the rules as early as grade 1.


“I learnt the rules of chess in Grade 1 when I was about 6, however only started participating in tournaments and competitions outside of school when I was 12,” he went on to say.


The second year mechatronic engineering undergraduate has excelled in leaps and bounds, or rather moves up and down the chess board, since he has joined Maties Chess club.


The mentorship of Maties Chess coach Ruben Salimu, along with that of well-known Cape Town-based chess coach Cecil Ohlson, has strengthened his game and strategy allowing Martin to dominate to the point where he is set to represent South Africa on the biggest university sporting stage.


Additionally, the balance his parents have struck with him, and his two younger brothers, is pivotal to Martin, and he regards this as one of the key driving forces behind his successes both in sport and academics.


“My parents have always supported me in all the sports and activities that I’ve chosen,” said a proud Martin. “They sacrificed a lot of their time driving me to chess tournaments and other sport fixtures while striking the right balance between being supportive without putting too much pressure on me.”


The 2022 FISU Championship Mind Sports is set to be hosted in Belgium in September, and while there is ample time for selection to sink in, Martin believes that he still needs to prepare adequately for the international showcase.Nico Martin


“It is a great honour which I don’t think has fully sunk in for me yet,” added Martin. “Travelling overseas to compete internationally, for my university, on the world stage is something that I wouldn’t have dreamed of a few years ago. I am very excited to travel to Belgium for the FISU [championship], but I know that some more chess training work on my part is required.


Martin lists his representation at the World Youth Chess Championships in 2019 as his most notable accolade, which, along with his most recent victory and subsequent qualification for the FISU Championship, ranks as some of his best moments as a Maties Chess player.


“The biggest thing that can be done for chess is to erase the stereotypes that chess is only for “smart people” or that chess is “slow and boring,” Martin concluded trying to debunk some myths that might exist around the chess sporting code. “The fact is that anyone has the potential to play good chess, and it is a game which has such great depth that the more you learn the more you realise that there is more to be uncovered.”


k singh byline