While most 7-year-olds are playing with Lego blocks, one grade R pupil is fast becoming a highly rated chess champion.
Mpho Bowers from Edenvale in Gauteng has broken a long-standing South African record, having won 33 consecutive tournaments.
The Grade R Pinnacle College Founders Hill pupil is undefeated in 43 games.
He recently won his 12th title of the year at the Etienne Lewis Tshwane closed tournament at Leriba Hotel in Centurion.
He also won trophies at the Tshwane Chess Merit Awards.
As the youngest member of the national junior team and highest-rated under-8 player, Mpho is set to represent South Africa at the African Youth Chess Championships in Namibia in December.
He will also lead the Tshwane under-8A team at the South African Junior Chess Championships, which take place at the Birchwood Hotel in January next year.
At the tender age of three, his father Justin taught him basic moves. When he was five, he started to enter tournaments.
“I love chess, it helps my brain to think!” Mpho said.
His father added that Mpho loves competitions and winning tournaments, which motivates him to practise and do more to prepare for games.
The young boy regularly trains at the Goforchess Academy in Bryanston under the tutelage of former SA champion Clyde Wolpe.
His father said that the school Mpho attends has been supportive of the chess champ and has given him time off to prepare for some of the tournaments. His school work has not been affected.
“He was three when his mother passed away. He went through a very difficult period after that and almost lost his own life. Chess is just an outlet for him to explore how he can calculate,” the father said.
He added that he was very proud of his son and always tells him that the objective is not about winning and losing, but about having fun.
While Mpho wants to continue playing chess when he is older, he also aspires to be a pilot.
“He is very popular at school. Very extroverted and an adventurous child. He has a bubbly personality and attracts new friends quickly,” the proud father said.