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Daniel Barrish is SA’s chess champ
Author: Maties Sport Media
Published: 05/02/2020

When it comes to life goals, there's nothing timid about Maties Sport chess player and current South African national champion Daniel Barrish.

But then, why be shy when you can claim a draw against all-time chess legend Garry Kasparov when you were just 11 years old?

Barrish became SA senior champion when he won the South African National Chess Championships in December 2019. For 2020 – aside from doing well in the Chess Olympiad and gunning for an International Master's title – he plans on bagging distinctions in the Computer Science and Statistics modules of his degree.

The 19-year-old Matie took his national title from a field of 12 players that included South Africa's only Grand Master (GM) Kenny Solomon. The intense battle between these two was a highlight of the competition. In the end, a mere half point gave victory to Barrish.

“Winning my first SA senior title really means a lot," says Barrish. “It was something I wanted to achieve since I started playing chess at the age of six – and it was the main goal I had last year."

Aside from the African Individuals' Championships in May, a world ranking goal for the Team World Championships in August and gold in academics, Barrish does have one other item on his to-do list…

“I want to start training in the gym regularly again. It's virtually impossible to maintain a gym routine while travelling between chess tournaments."

Questioned about his love of chess, Barrish is quick to set the record straight: “I wouldn't say I love chess – but I do love competing, challenging myself, the journey to improvement and (when things come together) winning. I certainly enjoy chess though, since it delivers on all these things.

“I started playing tournaments when I was six and it was just something that I've stuck with. However, for the past year or so, I've been enjoying it and working on it far more – probably because I have significantly more free time now at university."

In this “free time" Barrish works for a popular chess website ( in order to fund the overseas tournaments.

Besides his SA title Barrish's biggest tournament success came in Greece, also in 2019.

“I achieved an IM (International Master) norm. To get the IM title you need three norms and a certain chess rating, so getting this first norm was a great first step towards the big goal of the IM title."

His most cherished chess memory will remain the day he played Garry Kasparov. Just 11 years old, Barrish and 25 others played a simultaneous match against the Russian.

“I have been playing tournament chess for more than a decade, winning several national championships along the way but one of the moments I'm most fond of is drawing against Kasparov in 2012," he says.