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Africa’s first draughts world champion

Written by Jauhara Khan

Lubabalo Kondlo has done South Africa and the continent proud by becoming the World Draughts Champion.

Kondlo recently beat Italian draughts Grandmaster Michele Borghetti 5 - 0 to take the title in Mississippi, in the United States (US). His win makes him the first African to win the world championship. Africa’s first World Draughts Champion Lubabalo Kondlo is sharing his passion for the game with South Africans.

“The final score was 5-0 with 15 drawn games. I was so happy because I am the first and only grandmaster and world champion on the African continent,” said Kondlo of his win.

Born in New Brighton, Kondlo began playing draughts at the age of seven he later joined the Vulindlela Draughts Club. The road to the title has not been an easy one for the Port Elizabeth resident.

In 1997, Kondlo moved to Johannesburg to look for work.

“I went there because everyone goes there for opportunities, but I also knew that if I wanted to play overseas I had to be in Johannesburg,” he said.

Kondlo went on to join Mind Sports SA, an affiliate of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee and began playing in provincial tournaments in Gauteng. His talent for the game led him to win the Gauteng Draughts Championship every year from 1997 to 2003.

He began playing internationally in 2001, playing in his first International Draughts Test against world number two Hugh Develin from Ireland.

“I beat him and I was so excited because even though he was number two in the world, we are very good at draughts here in South Africa,” Kondlo said.

In 2007, Kondlo became the first and only draughts Grandmaster in South Africa and on the African continent after winning the World Qualifier in Las Vegas (US).

Kondlo has represented South Africa in international tournaments that have taken him to the USA, Europe and China.

Kondlo has also worked hard over the past few decades to make sure that the game of draughts receives recognition in South Africa as an official sport.

He is a coach at the same club he first began playing draughts in New Brighton, teaching his award-winning strategies and tactics to young people. Kondlo believes that draughts trumps chess in stimulating the mind.