Traditionally, chess has been associated with a game played by middle-class men, not with 13-year old daughters of farm workers. Anneline Wildschut, born and raised on one of the 22 wine farms that make up DuToitskloof Wineries, is proving the generalisation wrong – one chess move at a time.
Anneline, 13, calls the Breedekloof valley just outside Rawsonville home. Being the youngest of three, and the only girl, growing up as a farm worker’s child wasn’t always easy, although she look back on her childhood with a smile.
“It is a great place to live. I can’t explain why, exactly,” she says with shyness in her voice, wrapping her slender fingers around one of the white chess pieces on the board in front of her.
In recent years, chess has become more than just a fun past time. Last year, Anneline received her Boland colours, with just a few points short of obtaining her South African colours. At this point the teenager is rated as one of the top players at DuToitskloof and the wider area.
This is thanks to to Dutoitskloof’s Fairtrade project, called Fairhills. The initiative benefits some 1600 people per year, including 400 farm workers and their families and a number of nearby communities. Initiatives include a children’s day-care centre, clinic, primary school, bus-service for workers and their children, bursaries for high-school learning and tertiary education, adult literacy projects, and health and safety education.
“I really love what chess is giving me. I love visiting new places and doing well. This is also thanks to the Fairhills project,” Anneline says.
Playing chess is her passion. It has been so since she was in Grade R, now eight years ago. Little did Anneline know that the sport to which she was introduced then, would allow her to travel the entire country, and meet scores of new people. “I have competed in over 25 competitions across the country since I started playing chess,” she explains whilst making her first move against her opponent. “Earlier this year, we went to Bloemfontein to play. After that we went to the mall to see a movie. It was very exciting. It is great to play in new cities and meet new people.”
There are more benefits to playing chess, Anneline says. It has, for instance, improved her concentration at school, and her problem solving skills. Last but not least, it is an important creative outlet for her.
In addition to getting her South African colours, Anneline dreams of becoming a policewoman. The reason is simple, she says. “I want to help people who are in trouble, and I want to keep other people out of trouble.”
DID YOU KNOW? Every time you treat yourself to a bottle of Fairtrade certified wine, 70c of the purchasing price goes back to the farm’s labourers. Collectively and democratically, they decide how these funds – known as Fairtrade Development Premiums – are spent. The bulk usually goes towards educational and community development projects, the very ones that helped Anneline achieve success in the world of chess.