Craig Bornheim, a third-year studying chemical engineering, seemingly has it all. He plays for TuksSquash, and is the top player for TuksChess having gone undefeated for two years. On the weekend of 27 February he took part in a TuksSquash and TuksChess tournament. He sat down with Perdeby for an interview and to discuss his dreams of becoming a chess grandmaster.
You took part in two tournaments at the end of February. Which one did you enjoy the most?
I really enjoyed both, they were both great. I could do physical as well as mental exercise, thus challenging myself in both aspects. I played five games in each tournament…chess was played over half a day and the squash over three days.
You went into the chess tournament as the favourite. How well did you fair in the squash tournament?
I came sixth in squash. [I] won my first game and lost my second game, thus putting me in position five to eight. We then played a round robin and I came second.
Do you believe you could have done better in the squash had it not have clashed with the chess tournament?
I feel that both were straining and there may have been a slight effect. After all, the mind and body are connected.
How many times have you represented South Africa in chess?
I have represented South Africa seven times. [I’ve gone] to Brazil, Greece, Turkey (twice), Georgia, Vietnam and Zambia.
You have a chess Elo rating of 2072, do you have dreams of becoming a chess grandmaster?
Yes, I would really love to become a grandmaster. South Africa has recently received their first grandmaster title ever through GM Kenny Solomon. The requirements are to either receive it through winning a major event such as the African Championships or by getting your rating above 2500 and receiving three norms.
Who was your toughest opponent in the last tournament?
All of my games were interesting and each had its own challenges, so it becomes very difficult to choose which [opponent] was the toughest.
Who is the toughest opponent you ever faced on the world stage?
The strongest player that I have ever played, I actually managed to beat. He is a grandmaster from Egypt [with] a 2596 rating and had won the World Junior Chess Championships before.
Which loss in chess was the most difficult for you to handle?
I was in a play-off match for National Champion in which I blundered very early and lost. It ended up costing me the title.
With your involvement in squash, chess and being in your third-year of chemical engineering, how do you manage your time?
To tell you the truth, I don’t know. I am struggling, but I merely try to get as much done [as possible] when I can do it.