It is Kenny’s mission this year to become a South African Grandmaster. Africa has yielded only six Grandmasters thus far; from Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia. In order to actualize his dream, Kenny must be well prepared; he must be physically and mentally fit. “There is a strong psychology behind the game of chess,” he says – one must be able to analyse one’s opponents’ style, strengths and weaknesses and be focused enough to conceal one’s emotions. Chess games, Kenny says, are pressurized and emotional. If a player betrays too much confidence or, conversely, a flicker of insecurity, it could give his opponent the ammunition needed to plot his downfall. Players use these loopholes as openings to psych each other out. Preparation for this kind of pressure takes shape in two different ways. In order to ready himself for a particular opponent Kenny studies their previous games intently, looking for strengths and weakness to play off. On the other hand, games can also last for up five or six hours in one sitting and you need to prepare yourself physically to be able to concentrate for that length of time. Kenny develops his stamina with a combination of swimming and running training. This routine helps him to withstand the emotional and mental pressure that characterizes competitive chess games.
Kenny says that chess players, by nature, are superstitious and ritualistic. While Kenny doesn’t have any particular rituals he follows, he is relying not on fate, but on a healthy mix of tenacity, conviction, hard work and drive to help him deliver his ultimate checkmate and become a Grandmaster.