Archive for February, 2009


Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa

I was tagged by Skoor  to post an entry about my favourite music. Well, I’ve done so many entries about music before, especially classical music that I’ve decided to blog a few tracks from my other favourites. I think all the music files in this entry refer to love  which is quite important in our lives! Many of my chess-player-friends on Chessworld know that I have a passion for my country/language and therefore the first song is an Afrikaans song. Steve sings it and he’s one of my favourite singers. In this entry you can also listen to a few love songs which I blogged with a couple of love-poems and you can listen to Steve singing in English! As a poetry-lover, I have also a poem for you to enjoy; music, poetry and love…hmm…you can’t separate it…and I have a movie for you, about SA of course, with some beautiful music…this time, classical music!

This first Afrikaans song is a love song and the title says in English ..”Far away from here”…and that’s what I am…far from South Africa…my beloved country!


Steve Hofmeyr – Ver hier vandaan


I was introduced to this song by one of my friends when I was a student and I still like this song.

Dan Fogelberg – Leader of the band

I was asked by
a blogreader to translate the following poem – which is originally an Afrikaans poem –  into English. It’s a poem that will “touch” you. On the link you can read the Afrikaans poem, actually, I don’t think Afrikaans speaking readers will read it as we all know this poem very well!  I had to know it by heart when I was at primary. It’s part of our history and I even believe that many other culture groups in South Africa also know the poem. This is a poem written by one of our National Poets, A G Visser and it’s based on the truth. I have a link for you in this post where you can read the history behind the poem.


A G VISSER- poem translated

In the shadow of the mountains
bush-sheltered on all sides
stands alone the wattle-and-daub hut
on the boarder of Kaffircountry.

Softly Amakeia hums
on the banks of the River Kei
till he sleeps, the tender baby
of the white pioneer:

“Hush now, hush now, hush Little One
see how the evening star twinkles
No one will hurt you, Little One
hush now, even if Mummy isn’t near.”

Amakeia had promised
when her madam was dying
to look after her vulnerable baby
till he’s a grown-up boy.

Lovingly she cares
for the white child
till the light of day beams
from Amakeia’s friendly-loyal black face.

She sees the ominous
signs of war:
Quick the invasion, home and haven
Slaughtered and burnt down

Selflessly, death defying
with the white child on her back
to the Amakeia mountains
she’d hastily fled

“Hush now, hush now, Pikanini
over the mountains the moon rises
No one will see us here
Tomorrow we’ll go home.”

Oh, that the eyes of the scouts
had to discover their hiding place!
“Save him, he’s so little!” she begs
with hands stretched out.

Ragingly snarled the wild gang:
“Die or give the white child here!”
“Over my lifeless body,”
replied Amakeia vivaciously.

“My promise to my madam,
the best I could asked for:
Where he goes, Amakeia goes,
to care for him.”

“Unite in death
If in life you can’t be parted.
Quick death with her, Maxosas,
Let the glinting spears rain down!”

In the Amatola valleys
Howls only the winter wind
through the reeds in the moonlight:
“Tula-tula – sleep my child.”

(c) Nikita 9:30 14/2/2009

Please click here to read  about the history behind the poem. The link will open in a new window.

A few years ago, when I taught 11 year old kiddies in SA, I used this next  song in a listening skills exercise. About 2 years ago, when I walked the streets of London, this song came to my mind – of course also the lesson I taught! – and I thought by myself…what Roger sings  is so true.  I’ve never thought that I would one day walk the streets of London and experience what he sings in this song!
Image: geographyofgrace.com

Roger Whittaker – Streets of London

Image: flickr.com: 2350/2261847707_ce11506ce7

I do like Katie’s music…she’s a lovely artist….do enjoy this song!

Katie Melua – The closest thing to crazy


Image: designbydani.com

Dennis East is a South African artist. Enjoy his song…I think this is a ’80’s song. Listen closely to the words! and Queen will always be on my music menu! The last song…For a kiss…is a cute song! Listen and enjoy!

Dennis East – A Rose has to die
Image: farm3.static.flickr.com/2117/2268046339_6ec9b65f42

Queen – Somebody to love


Venice – For a kiss

Amatola mountains
The Amatola mountains in South Africa

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Image: pda.88000.org/wallpapers/12/World_Chess_Game.jpg

I’ve blogged before about Dyslexia, Hyperactivity, Chess Research and also about the Irlen Syndrome. Irlen Syndrome is an eye condition that relates to Dyslexia. All the links about these topics are at the bottom of this post and all links  will open in a new window. If you’re Afrikaans speaking, then you will find Juffer’s entry about severe low muscle tone interesting or click here to read about it in English, it’s also called hypotonia. Some children with low muscle tone sometimes find it hard to stay focused on activities in class and therefore have concentration problems. You do get different degrees of low muscle tone.


Image: edcollins.com/chess/chess-comic
I’ve had parents with children in the lower grades in Primary School whose children were diagnosed with ADHD. They’ve heard or read that chess is one solution to solving concentration problems. Yes, it is, but if your child has no interest in chess or he’s not motivated, why would you bother to burden him/her to learn the game to improve his concentration?  I can’t see the point as those children will not concentrate on the game and will only attend the chess club because: “my mum/dad said I have to“. You’re really not doing your child any favour of  forcing him/her into chess, nor the teacher that has to produce the results!  Parents also expect the results within a short period of time and sometimes don’t understand that it’s not possible…and if it doesn’t happen in that short period of time…they don’t believe that chess is good for their child’s concentration. Of course you will reap the fruit if you’re child is interested/motivated! I’ve had one little boy and he ended up playing chess for Gauteng Junior Chess…but not with my help only…it was more his coach of course, but at least his dad gave me the credit for getting him enthusiastic about the game…hehehe..What I also found interesting each year, (when starting with a new group – especially if they were Grade 1/Grade 2 ) I could immediately identify the little ones with concentration problems and could then point them out to their teachers and that helped them to know who needs support in that field quite early on.

I have an article for you to read and a couple of links. On the two links – near to the bottom, you can read more about ADHD too, but I would like to advise you to follow my blog-links first as you might find more useful information/links than the two near the bottom.

Playing chess may well help child diagnosed with ADHD
Parenting by Dr. Marilyn Heins
Tucson, Arizona | Published in the Arizona Daily Star: 07.22.2007

I recently was introduced to our neighbor´s 8-year-old grandson, who has been diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. The child has been extensively evaluated by medical practitioners, pediatricians and psychologists, and he has been on medication for five weeks.

I´m still reading up on this matter, and I saw some of your articles. However, before I was aware of his diagnosis, I was told that he had a problem sitting still and concentrating for any length of time. I immediately suggested that he be exposed to the game of chess, because my experience is that playing this game improves concentration and thought processes, and builds self-esteem. Some time ago, I also read a doctoral thesis from South Africa that dealt with chess as a tool to help children with learning difficulties.

I´ve been teaching this boy to play chess for about two weeks, and he´s able to sit still for up to two hours while playing. I´m pleasantly surprised by his grasp of the game and his thought processes. Do you have any views on teaching chess to children with ADHD? I´d also like to know whether one can overstimulate a child with playing chess, and if so, what´s the maximum time this child ought to be playing the game?

The relationship between chess and acquiring math, reading and critical-thinking skills is fairly strong. One study showed critical-thinking skills improved by seventeen percent in students taking chess classes, compared with five percent for other classes. Chess also teaches patience and courtesy while waiting for your opponent to make a move. I think one reason playing chess can enhance learning is that the child realizes chess, unlike other games dependent mostly on chance, demands skill and a plan to win. This makes winning such a game so much fun that kids may want to translate skills and planning to other areas, such as schoolwork.

There are no real data, but there are lots of anecdotes about chess improving concentration and focus in ADHD kids. And this can translate into better school performance. Indeed, professional chess players in international tournaments are tested for Ritalin, a drug that improves focus, just as athletes are tested for bodybuilding steroids. However, some children with ADHD become more distracted with the stress of competing, so parents can´t assume that chess is a panacea for everything.

The best thing about chess is that it provides attention from an adult and time away from TV! Both factors benefit all children, whether or not they have ADHD. When you think about it, zoning out in front of a television set is the direct opposite of focus. You just figuratively inhale what the network presents, commercials and all.

My father taught me and all his grandchildren how to play chess. For me, it was a very precious time. I knew my father played postcard chess with a brother who lived across the country. (These were the days before cheap cross-country flights and long-distance calls, so my father and uncle did not often meet.) My dad kept one chessboard set up for this cross-country game and looked forward to his brother´s next move.

I knew this game was special for my father, and it was a great honor when I was considered knowledgeable enough to move Uncle George´s men on the board. Playing a game of chess with my father was a great treat. Winning was like being awarded an Oscar.

I don´t play chess anymore, and neither do my children, but it taught me a lot about thinking ahead and planning a strategy. Chess also taught me something about family ties and the importance and joy of imparting the skills you´ve learned — whether they be chess or cooking or fishing — to your child.

It sounds as though the boy you´re teaching is taking to the game of chess very well, and it´s improving his ability to concentrate, which I hope will translate into better school performance. There´s no danger of overstimulation — either the child will stop playing or the adult can tell from the child´s behavior and body language that it´s time to stop.

Dr. Marilyn Heins is a pediatrician, author, newspaper columnist, lecturer, wife, mother, step-mother, and grandmother.
She has written over 800 parenting columns published in the Arizona Daily Star. Resource :



On this link you can read about chess  in schools as a subject in different countries.

The next PDF-link will open in a new window too and you can read about it or even save it on your pc for some midnight reading before you turn the lights out…and of course if I didn’t like chess and need to learn this wonderful game, I would love to have a chess set like the one in the next image! That will get me into chess..haha…



Image: ursispaltenstein.ch/blog/images/uploads_img/art_chess.jpg

Great chess players are great thinkers


Read on the next two links about ADHD.



Links on my blog..for you to read more…
this link you can read about the Irlen Syndrome and HERE about Dyslexia and Hyperactivity…and HERE about Chess Research…and education…that was carried out a few years ago. Even South African female chess players agree about the benefits of playing chess. The news article is in Afrikaans unfortunately.

Update: September 2009 -On this next link you can read about chess research that was done in Germany.


SA vroueskaak

Drie van Suid-Afrika se skaak-Groot-5. Carmen de Jager (19), Daleen Wiid (17) en Ezet Roos (17) was in van die topvyf-posisies wat die junior vroue tydens die Afrika- junior skaakkampioenskap onlangs in Bronkhorstspruit verower het. Foto: Leon Botha.
Kliek op hierdie link vir die oorspronklike artikel. Die link sal in ‘n nuwe bladsy oopmaak.

5 SA vroue is Afrika se junior skaakkampioene
Jan 08 2009 08:48:07:700PM  – (SA)

Leon Botha

Suid-Afrika het die vyf topposisies vir vroue verower tydens die Afrika- junior skaakkampioenskap wat die afgelope week in Bronkhorstspruit aangebied is.

Melissa Greeff (14) van Kaapstad, drie Pretorianers – Ezet Roos (17), Daleen Wiid (17) en Carmen de Jager (19) – en Nicola Alberts (17) van Port Elizabeth het onderskeidelik die eerste vyf plekke voor die neuse van hul mede-Afrikane opgeraap. Altesame 12 lande, waaronder Libië, Angola, Botswana, Kenia en Uganda het aan die kampioenskap deelgeneem.

Ezet, Daleen en Carmen speel al bykans tien jaar lank saam skaak. Hulle het al in 2001 in die Wêreld-jeugskaakkampioenskap saam deelgeneem.

“Die lekker van skaak is om iemand se brein te klop,” verduidelik Ezet.

“Skaak leer jou baie meer oor die lewe as net die spel. Jy leer om geduldig te wees en om te konsentreer. Dit leer jou ook uithouvermoë en om altyd ’n oplossing vir probleme te vind; met skaak sit jy heeltyd met ’n probleem voor jou.”

Daleen vertel dat die meeste vroulike spelers verdedigend speel. “Die belangrikste is om jou skaakstukke op die bord te ‘ontwikkel’, die koning veilig te kry en dan vir jou opponent se swak punte te kyk.

“Maar jou gemoedstoestand speel ook ’n rol. Soos jy daar (by ’n kompetisie) instap, gaan jy klaarmaak; wanneer ’n mens af is, waag jy net minder kanse.

“In skaak moet jy ’n plan hê. Dit moet so ’n agtskuifplan wees. Jy moet ook meer as een plan reghou. As jy byvoorbeeld voor twee moeilike keuses staan, leer skaak jou om die situasie te ontleed. Skaakspelers dink in detail; ons is nie impulsief nie. ’n Mens moet ook skaakfiks bly en gereeld speel,” sê Daleen.

“Die ander Afrika-lande se skaakspelers is sterk spelers,” meen Carmen, “maar hulle het nie genoeg diepte nie. Skaak is egter baie groot in Afrika.”


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What a winter-wonderland when we got up this morning!



Click on the images for a larger view.






Do you now how much exercise you get from building a snowman! haha…




Please click on THIS LINK to create your very own snowflake – interactively! This is great fun for kids! The link will open in a new window.

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