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Jewish boy, 13, youngest to make South Africa’s Chess Olympiad national team

The International Chess Foundation ranks Caleb Levitan as the 5,098th best active player in the world and the 47th best on the African continent.

Caleb Levitan
Caleb Levitan representing South Africa at the Youth Olympiad in Nakhchivan, Azerbaijan, in 2022. Credit: Veritusseeker via Wikimedia Commons.

Caleb Levitan, an eighth-grader at King David High School Linksfield in Johannesburg, has set a new record, becoming the youngest person to make the elite chess team representing South Africa at the Chess Olympiad global tournament to be held in Budapest this September.

At the South African Closed Chess Championships of a dozen players from March 25 to April 2, the 13-year-old came in second, securing his spot on the team. He was likewise the youngest person ever invited to the competition.

His father, Shaun Levitan, said his son’s rating “puts him somewhere close to the top five in the country. With the benefits of this tournament, I think the rest of the country has seen just how strong he is.”

He added that “for Caleb, this was really his first experience of playing in such a senior competition and to finish second says a huge amount not only about his talent but his ability to play under pressure.”

He also noted that his son’s school has been accommodating of the competitions, which inevitably cause absences. “King David has been exceptionally supportive,” said Levitan. “He leads a dual lifestyle of being good enough to compete with the men’s team in South Africa in chess, but still has to go back and catch up with science and isiZulu.”

The International Chess Foundation currently ranks Levitan as the 5,098th best active player in the world and the 47th best on the African continent, bestowing upon him the title of “master,” the third-highest title that the sports body endows to the most advanced players.

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