Monday, June 1, 2020

Botswana Chess blitzes through COVID-19 Lockdown

Coronavirus may have brought almost all sporting activities to a standstill, but for chess, the game continues.

With no end in sight for the current lockdown and no social gatherings envisaged for a long time, local chess has found a way to circumvent the lockdown. Online chess tournaments!

According to Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) public relations officer Kutlwano Tatolo, a series of online tournament featuring local players are currently ongoing. The tournaments are played through the LiChess application platform, which she says is free to download. The BCF PRO says local chess players have rallied to compete against each other on the online tournaments, with at least 107 players currently competing.

“The federation thought having chess tournaments every weekend was a lot, now people are playing chess every day. The commitment is remarkable,” the BCF PRO says.

She says players from various regions in the country have embraced the idea of the online tournament. Tatolo says they have players from regions such as Maun, Nkange, Masunga, Mochudi and Charles Hill, just to name but a few, actively competing.

She says the tournaments offer a platform for both elders and youth players with free entry to play. “After the lockdown, BCF will have improved players. I am appealing to other sporting codes to explore digital arenas where possible,” she advices. 

In order to be part of the chess movement the players need to have access or download the lichess application and create user accounts. “The online platforms would help to keep people engaged and curb issues that may come with people sitting idle having nothing to do,” notes Tatolo.

Tatolo says the tournament, which is organised by International Arbiter (IA) and Organiser (IO) Vincent Masole takes place every day between 8pm and 10pm.

For his part the tournament organiser, Masole says on any other day the tournament is open to all players around the world. He says the goal of online chess tournaments is to provide a safe environment where chess players can compete and enjoy the games.

To ensure fair play, Masole says participants in the online tournaments have to adhere to the LiChess anti-cheating measures. He says any player caught cheating during the tournament is banned from participating in future tournaments. 

Meanwhile, BCF organised an exclusively local online chess tournament this past Saturday 25th April. The tournament was strictly for citizens and residents of Botswana only. The tournament, aptly dubbed Botswana Lockdown Blitz, sees local players take on each other through a LiChess application platform.

The BCF sponsored exclusively local chess tournament to a tune of P2 500, with the whole amount being prize monies. According to the BCF, the tournament was played in two categories, the Open section and the ladies’ section.

Masole says while the tournament is on digital platforms, there are rules and regulations in place which all players must adhere to, to avoid elimination from the tournament. All players must take part in the tournament with their real and official Lichess- ID or they will not be eligible for prize money.

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