The remarkable Brown sisters

Angelique, Annelise and Amelia Brown. Photo: Helge Schütz

Three sisters from Swakopmund have become young chess prodigies who represented Namibia at the recent Africa Youth Chess Championships in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Amelia (13), Annelise (12) and Angelique Brown (9) all made the national team for the first time, and competed against top youth players from 15 other African countries.

In the u10 competition Angelique came 17th out of 40 participants after winning four, drawing two and losing three of her nine matches, while Amelia came 33rd out of 42 players in the u14 category after winning three, drawing one and losing five matches.

Annelise, however, was the best performing sister, as well as Namibia’s overall top performer, after winning six and losing three matches in the u13 category, to come fifth overall out of 28 players.

“It was a good experience and it helped to improve my game and make me a better player. The games I lost, I didn’t see the tactics that my opponents used, but I’ve learnt from my mistakes and I’ll come back stronger,” Annelise said.

Amelia and Angelique also said they were very proud of representing their country for the first time. The proudest of all though was their father, Andrew Brown, who credits coach Immanuel Gariseb of the Regicide Chess Club for fostering a love for the game among the three sisters.

Gariseb first taught Annelise and Amelia at Riverside Private School, where chess is a school subject, while they later joined him at his club, along with Angelique.

Angelique, in fact, was the first to take up the game at the age of five and although it was tough going at first, she persevered, and two years later started winning her first tournaments. By 2023, she was already competing and winning competitions further afield at Arandis and Windhoek. When she came fourth at the Windhoek Closed Championships this year, she made the national team for the first time.

“It was a great experience to compete at the Africa Championships, and now I want to improve my game even more and get an international rating,” she said.

Annelise also started playing chess at about the same time, and under Gariseb’s tutelage, her game steadily improved.

“It took a while but I persevered and in 2021, I started winning my first tournaments. I then participated in more tournaments in Swakop and around Namibia at Arandis, Usakos, Omaruru, Otjiwarongo and Windhoek and by 2023, I won the national junior u12 closed title in Windhoek. It felt great and I was very proud of myself,” she said.

Despite being the oldest sibling, Amelia was the last to take up the game in 2021, but under Gariseb’s guidance, she soon also made her mark.

“Our coach taught us a lot about tactics and we gained more experience by playing against each other. In my first tournaments, I didn’t do too well and I used to cry a lot when I lost but it also encouraged me to work harder and my game started improving,” she said.

She steadily improved and at this year’s Windhoek Closed Championships, she came fifth in the u14 category to make the Namibian team for the Africa Youth Chess Championships.

All three are now avid chess players and eager to continue representing their country abroad.

“I just got an international rating at the tournament in Johannesburg, so I hope to also get an international title like Fide Master or Grand Master in the future,” Annelise said.

She advised young Namibians to take up the game.

“My advice is to practise a lot and if you have chess at school, consider to take it up as a subject. You shouldn’t give up if you lose, it must just drive you to do better next time.”

While who exactly is the best player among the sisters at the moment causes heated debate, one thing they all agree on is that father Andrew is not a touch on them any more.

“He used to beat us in the beginning, but now we all beat him. He doesn’t like it much, and even bought a book to improve his chess, but it hasn’t helped him much,” said Amelia with a giggle.

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