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Abel Dzilani is the new Metropolitan National chess champion.
The soft-spoken Dzilani beat the best of local chess players to become the fourth person to win the championship, which is in its fifth year.
In one of the closest fought championships in five years, Dzilani had to wait until the very last minute to know his fate after all the top four players were tied at 5, 5 points as well as another 5, 5 points on the first tie break.
Dzilani, however, won the championship as he had two points in the second tie break as compared to 1,5 each for his runners up, Providence Oatlhotse and Jona Chaka, both of whom came in second and third positions, respectively.
Chaka forfeited a chance to go head to head with Oatlhotse for the second position after both were tied, handing the latter the first runner up spot in the process.
On his way to becoming champion, Dzilani had not lost a match but still has a lot to thank his immediate predecessor, 2010 Metropolitan national chess champion, Candidate Master (CM) Barileng Gaealafshwe for. The latter beat Moakofhi Notha in the last game of the day to deny him (Notha) the championship.
With Notha perched at five points and needing only one win to win the championship, Gaealafshwe dashed his hopes as he mounted a very strong last finish in a very long and nerve wrecking game between the two.
The loss relegated Notha to 7th position in the final ranking with five points while elevating Gaealafshwe to 5th position and handing Dzilani the championship.
Due to the points tie between all the top four players in the men’s category, all top four players walked away with P3 400 each.
In the ladies category, it was all smiles for 17-year-old Women Candidate Master (WCM) Thapelo Francis as she scored 7 points out of a possible nine to win the ladies championship.
Besides a trophy and a gold medal, Francis walked away P3 300 richer for her winning effort.
Coming second behind her was Boitshepo Rebatenne while another WCM, Lame Kolaatamo, came third despite being tied on points with Women FIDE Master Boikhutso Mudongo.
In one of the rarest show of sportsmanship, the latter, a veteran of chess in the country, forfeited a chance to go into playoffs against the 14-year-old WCM Kolaatamo as a gesture ‘to encourage her to play chess.’
The forfeiture meant Kolaatamo automatically won the third position as well as a medal while Mudongo came fourth.
The Metropolitan National Chess Championship is sponsored by Metropolitan Botswana to the tune of P74 000. Meanwhile, BCF tournament director, Kelapile Kelatlhilwe, has declared this year’s championship a success.
Speaking in an interview, Kelathilwe said the quality of competition displayed in this year’s championship was very outstanding. He says the fact that all players in the men’s category were rated players made for a very tough but interesting final for the championships.