Nicholas Van Der Nat is three ti

Condensed Biography - Nicholas van der Nat.

Coaching Career

Playing Career

SA Open 2009 Playing against opponent in Australia during the 2009 SA Open

Nicholas is considered by many to be the preeminent coach currently teaching on a full time basis in South Africa.

Being a keen and hard working Chess student it was inevitable that he would gravitate to coaching at an early age. Given the opportunity, after some persistent requests from potential students, he started his coaching career while still in High School.

Since then Nicholas has built up an enviable reputation as a coach equally adept at teaching adults, scholars and pre-schoolers no matter their playing strength. He has a gift for being able to assess the individual students strengths and weaknesses and then adapting his teaching to enhance and improve where required.

While being a hard taskmaster who has high expectations for all his students, Nicholas firmly believes that the development of the individual and especially their self confidence is paramount. To him it is all about unlocking and maximising the potential. He further believes that playing and studying Chess should be fun at all times and will therefore never force a student to do something they are not capable of.

Nicholas currently coaches several schools, both primary and high, individuals, as well as teams.

He has held the position of Head Coach for Gauteng Juniors and Gauteng South in the past. He is currently the coaching consultant for Gauteng South with particular emphasis on developing the strength of the playing and coaching staff. He also attends the annual Junior Provincial Championships as coaching consultant and usually takes on the responsibility for preparing and supporting a team up to and during the championships. In this regard several of his teams have won national titles.

His students participating in the annual Junior Individual Championships always give a good account of themselves with many finishing in the top ten. The number of champions produced at these, as well as several closed championships is impressive. These include:

  • D Niemandt: U10 U12 U14 U16 U18 U20 champion.
  • J Wolff: U16 champion.
  • J Werbeloff: U18 champion.
  • R Van Der Merwe: Girls U16 champion.
  • M Pretorius Girls: U12 U14 U16 U18 U20 champion, 3 X SA women's closed champion, 3 X women's Olympiad member.
  • R van Rensburg: U10 U14 U18 champion.
  • H Stander: U10 U12 U14 U16 U18 champion, African Junior champion, SA Youngest International Master.
  • R Stander: U12 champion.
  • E Roos Girls: U12 U16 champion.
  • M Jonker: U18 champion.
  • D Ristovich: U20 champion.
  • B Hercules: U20 champion.
  • A Whittit: U16 champion.
  • S Modi SA: U10 Junior closed champion.
  • J Modi SA: U16 Junior closed champion.
  • Dylan Tapp: U10 champion.

Playing Career

Coaching Career

SA Closed 2009 Presenting winners speech at SA Closed 2009

Being both coach and player is not easy as they place differing demands on the individual. However, Nicholas tries to keep active by playing in strong tournaments whenever possible and practical.

In 2009 he won the prestige section of the Centurion Open, beat IM Robert Gwaze, former African Senior and Junior champion, 3/1 in a 4 game match with no losses, finished as best South African player at the SA Open and finally won the bi-annual SA Closed for the 3rd time in December. The SA Closed is a particularly prestigious title as it is a all play all round robin by invitation to the strongest players only.

Zone 4.3 Championships Receiving bronze medal for 3rd place in 2011 Zone 4.3 Individuals

Nicholas also regularly participates in the Gauteng chess league, usually as board 1, and once went through 2 seasons without a loss and only 2 draws. As a club player he has also been club champion at both Randburg and Rooseveldt Park chess clubs on several occasions. He currently plays for the Phoenix Chess club in the league.

As a junior he was first selected as a 14 year old for the Transvaal High Schools A team and went on to represent the team for 6 years on various occasions. This team was all conquering and won the national title for 11 years in a row.

In addition to winning numerous tournaments, Nicholas has had the opportunity to represent South Africa at several prestigious chess events. These include:

  • The World Junior Championships in Calicut India. Nicholas finished in the top 30 and several of those that he beat or drew with are today top ranking Grand Masters.
  • The African Junior Championships in Nairobi and Kampala. On both occasions Nicholas finished second.
  • The Zone 4.3 Team Championships in Maputu where South Africa won the gold medal.
  • The All Africa games in Algeria where South Africa won silver and Nicholas an individual bronze.
  • Chess Olympiads in Turkey and Italy.
  • Winning the bronze medal at the 2011 Zone 4.3 Individual Championships held in Gabarone Botswana.


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When you are lonely, when you feel yourself an alien in the world, play Chess. This will raise your spirits and be your counselor in war (Aristotle)

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