Chess King Queen Large 7june12When chess players reach Grandmaster status it’s an honour they possess for life. No one can strip them of it. It’s for keeps, recognised not only in the chess community but also beyond as a mark of intellectual prowess – even non-chess players are familiar with the word “Grandmaster”.

That’s the title bestowed on Kenny Solomon this week, who has become the South Africa’s first ever Grandmaster following a competition in Turkey.
Solomon, 32, from Mitchells Plan, was part of the South African team at the 2012 World Chess Olympiad in Istanbul. Now he is recognised as being among the best in the game, making history at the same time.

It’s a ranking process absent from poker, which has Players of the Year and other annual awards, but nothing as definite or long-lasting as an official designation such as Grand or International Master.

In chess however, Grandmaster is the highest ranking any chess player can obtain. As you’d expect it’s not easy to achieve. A player must perform consistently to a rating of more than 2,500. For reference a strong player is usually rated at around 2,000. The world number one, Magnus Carlsen, tops 2,800.

Furthermore Solomon becomes only the second Grandmaster from sub-Saharan Africa and only the eighth player from the continent ever.

Should there be “Grandmasters” and “International Masters” in poker? It’s a theory that IFP is working on as it develops its own ranking system for players around the world. Perhaps one day poker’s equivalent highest rank will be as familiar and need as little explanation as the designation “Grandmaster.”

For now you can read the full story about Kenny Solomon on the IOL news website.