Saturday, May 8, 2021

BCF climbs the ranks after shining at Chess Olympiad

The Botswana Chess Federation (BCF)’s teams have moved up the World Rankings following their impressive showing of the team at the just-ended 41st Chess Olympiads held in Tromso, Norway.

Despite missing on their target of winning a category medal at the games, both the BCF’s men and ladies teams nevertheless did the country proud.

The biggest movers were the men’s team which has moved 21 places up the World Rankings. The team is now ranked 90th in the World and fourth in the African continent. The men’s team, which was ranked 111th in the World prior to the games, missed its intended target of a category medal in its penultimate match against Portugal.

The team lost the match 1.5 -2.5 to lose out in the category medal and finish fifth behind Sri Lanka, Lebanon, Cyprus and Jamaica in their Category D group.

By the end of the 11th and final round of the Olympiad on Thursday, the Botswana men’s team had won five games, lost another five and drew one.

The team recorded an equal 11 points tally on tie break one, equal with Jamaica who had pipped them to fourth place on their group on tie break two.

Leading the team’s charge was Thato Olebile, who managed to amass six points out of the nine games he played.

Playing on board 4, Olebile managed to win six games and lost only three as he kept Botswana in the hunt for a category medal. His performance, one of the best at the Olympiad, saw him score a performance rating of 2303 against his standard rating of 2144, earning the player a title of FIDE Master (FM) from the World Chess Federation (WCF).

Olebile’s performance was complemented by those of Barileng Gaealafshwe and Phemelo Khetho who both scored 4.5 points from the 10 games they each played. Olebile’s FM title makes him the third player to earn it after his teammates Khetho and Ignatious Njobvu.

Meanwhile, the ladies team moved six places up from their pre-Olympiad ranking of 94 in the world to rank 88th.

The ranking means the team, which also lost out on the category medal when they lost 1-3 to Dominican Republic in their penultimate game, is now ranked 5th in Africa.

Of the 11 games they played, the ladies team won just five, losing the other six.
The star of the ladies’ team was Kgalalelo Botlhole, who managed to amass 6.5 points from the 10 games she played.

Botlhole won five of the games she played, drawing three and losing only two. The other best performers in the Botswana ladies’ team were Tshepiso Lopang and Onkemetse Francis who finished the tournament with 4.5 and 4 points, respectively. The team, which was under the guidance of Russian Grand Master Igor Glek, arrived in the country yesterday (Saturday).

The 41st Chess Olympiad was won by the People’s Republic of China in the Open section while the ladies’ section went to Russia.

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