About Us

SACBW Business Woman of the Year 2017, 2nd runner-up

MiniChess Shoprite/Checkers Woman of the Year project

The MiniChess program was developed over years of teaching chess to “entry phase” learners (5 to 9 years of age) as part of the school curriculum. It has already been used on a trial basis, with great success, at a number of schools in SA.

It is organized into structured lessons, with detailed lesson plans in the Teacher's Manuals and attractive Project Books for the learners. The program uses tried and tested methods for teaching through play, including the use of so-called "MiniChess" games. The learning process is broken down into small steps, building confidence while keeping it fun, and is in line with the skills level of the young child at that specific age, eg. colouring, cut and paste, form recognition, simple pattern recognition, a little bit of writing, etc. in the case of 6 year olds (grade 1).

The program consists of 4 levels (level1/R, level2 and level3), each level accommodating the continual development of skills and capacity as the child grows. The program continually links chess concepts with maths-, science- and life skills.

Marisa van der Merwe
Marisa van der Merwe developed the award-winning educational program, MiniChessTM, over years of working her passion: early childhood development. She won the Shoprite Checkers Women of the Year Award 2012 (Category: Education), participated in the Women in the World Summit 2013 in New York and also presented at the London Chess & Education conference (December 2013) as well as the ACEI’s Poster-presentation in Vancouver (April 2014)

In 2014 Marisa established a MiniChess small-business structure, empowering individuals to run the program inside their own communities, while creating jobs en nurturing entrepreneurship

Our Team

Marisa van Der Merwe

Owner & Managing Director

Wyna Roestorff

National Coordinator

Wilma Pelser


About Marisa

About Marisa


Coming from a background soaked in Chess achievement and history, Marisa certainly made her mark within the National and International Chess Community.

Her accolades and achievements include:
• 1989 to 2011 – Recognized provincial and national chess- trainer for 20+ years.
• Awarded Gauteng-North provincial colours (1994) as well as SA national colours (2002).
• Team manager for the SA Women’s Team at World Chess Olympiad, Bled, Slovenia, in 2002; represented SA at different Fide Congresses (2002) – Chess in Schools Congress & Women’s Chess Congress.
• President of SA Women’s Chess for 3 years, member of the Chess South Africa Executive committee (1999 to 2003), as well as secretary of Gauteng North Junior Chess Association for almost 10 years (from 1993).
• Manager of the outstanding Waterkloof Chess Centre (SA) with International Master Watu Kobese (2005 – March 2013). Included were 4 chess-academies and satellite academies in disadvantaged areas.
• Successfully managed a chess exchange program with NTG Sport Academy in Oslo, Norway (2006 – 2012) and organized the Commonwealth Development Chess Tournament – Johannesburg, SA 2011.
• Developed a unique “MiniChess”-program (from early 1990’s onwards) for gr.R – Gr.3-learners, as part of an “in-schools” educational program. MiniChess is accredited by Chessa, MFL, FIDE and Kasparov Chess Foundation.
• Co-founder of the “Moves for Life” –chess development program and Trustee of the Supreme Chess Trust: a non-profit PBO with intent of developing chess in disadvantaged communities.(2009-2010) Moves for Life (MFL) is BBEEE-accredited and takes the MiniChess program to disadvantaged communities around SA, by means of CSI-funding. Pres. Jacob Zuma is the patron to this program.
• Awarded “National Trainer” title by FIDE (the World Chess Body) in July 2010 and “FIDE Arbiter” title in December 2010.
• First South African to play against GM Garry Kasparov, by invitation – at the Your Next Move-simultaneous exhibition of the KCF Europe (Kasparov Chess Foundation –Europe) in Belgium, October 2011.
•In March 2012 Chess Grand Master Garry Kasparov visited SA, and declared the MiniChess program the “most scientific program in the world – linking chess with education”. He launched the Kasparov Chess Foundation-Africa on 23 March 2012, in cooperation with MFL, and plans to take the MiniChess program to all Kasparov Chess Foundations around the world.
• Won the “Shoprite Checkers Women of the Year 2012 Award” (Category: Education) in July 2012.
• Participated in the “Women in the World Summit 2013” in New York – part of a panel discussion on “chess as educational tool & game changer in lives of youngsters in Africa”.
• Many national and international TV appearances and media coverage in newspapers, magazines and on social media – supporting MiniChess as an educational tool.
• Present at the Chess & Education Conference in London, 6 – 8 December 2013 and is also the Childhood Education Conference in Vancouver, Canada in April 2014, as co-presenter on the Kagoma Gate MiniChess program in Uganda.

About Wyna

About Mariana

As a qualified Educationalist & Teacher, Mariana is a pivotal player within the MiniChess organization, dealing with a National and International customer base daily. She is grounded within the MiniChess company vision and certainly knows what we are all about, exceling at managing our Finances & Customer requirements with the robust MiniChess framework.

Some of her expertise & background below:
• Bachelor of Arts (1974) – Physical Education and Sports Coaching.
• HOD Diploma – Postgraduate Certificate in Education (1975)
• Bachelor of Commerce I (1980).
• High School Teacher – (1976 – 1983) Afrikaans and Physical Education.
• Estate Agent & Settlement Liaison (1985 -2001)
• Financial Administrator at Certo Accountants (2002 – 2012)

Lesego Mochitele

Data Administrator

Michelle Robbertse

Design, Media & Game Developer

Willemien Stoop

Data & Admin Support

About Lesego

About Lesego

As a member of the MiniChess team, Lesego has both Educationalist & Administrative expertise, thus playing a critical role in the management of our National & International MiniChess database; our school & learner network as well our MiniChess record hub. The Learner administrative network is crucial to us and with the MiniChess year-on-year growth Lesego is certainly proving her finger on the MiniChess pulse.

Some of her expertise & background below:
• Accord Business Academy (2003) Business.
• Office Administration and Public Relations.
• Rosebank College (2009)
• BA Psychology & Education II
• Business Communication, MS Office, Access & Business Information Systems (BIS)
• Customer Care Liaison at SVA Electronics (Pty)Ltd (2007- 2010)
• Secretary & Administrator at Itumeleng Primary School (2005- 2007)
• Free Lance Administrator (2010- 2011)

About Michelle

About Michelle

Michelle is responsible for our fantastic images and graphics and as In-house designer certainly has a full schedule within the MiniChess media requirements, especially our gaming structure now due 2014. Michelle’s background in Graphic Design and Web Development is varied, assisting Minichess on multiple levels to meet market requirements in a very fast paced environment within the Educational sector.

Some of her expertise & background below:
• Luma Arcade – Intern Animator (2009)
• CTU Collage (2010) Diploma, Graphic Design & Web Development
• Freelance Graphic Designer, Web Developer Artist & Illustrator (2010) Projects: Rococo website / Master Millionaire Digital Board Game / 3D Modelling / Logos, Art and Illustration.
• 3Dtree – Intern Animator (2011)
•MiniChess – MiniChess Mobile Game Developer
Our Minichess Support Staff

Anna Mashamaite

Support Staff