The Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) has increased the number of teams taking part in this year’s league from 14 to 16.
The new development, which comes on the heels of last weekend’s relegation and promotional playoffs, sees three new teams joining the BCF chess league while Desert Knights chess club is relegated.
The three teams are Glorious Queens Chess club from Serowe, Wizards Chess club from Francistown as well as Gaborone-based Police Chess club. Speaking in an interview, the Secretary General of the BCF, Kelapile Kelatlhilwe, said the move is meant to accommodate the large number of clubs interested in joining the league as well as to improve the league. The BCF Secretary General says with school chess dormant at the moment, many people are interested in joining clubs so as to participate in the league.
Kelatlhilwe says they have currently had clubs from as far as Selebi Phikwe, Letlhakane, Mmashoro and Kasane showing interest in joining the chess league. He, however, says while interest from clubs across the country has been increasing, lack of strong financial support is still hampering their progress.
“Currently, all our league games are played in Gaborone and this is very costly for clubs coming from outside Gaborone,” the BCF Secretary General said.
Kelatlhilwe, however, said as the league continues to grow; they intend to formalize all club structures so as to make it easy to take chess to different places.
“We intend to encourage teams to have club houses, officials as well as home grounds where they can play their home games. This will help alleviate the current situation where only teams from outside Gaborone have to travel and spend money and thus ensure cost sharing among clubs,” Kelatlhilwe added.
Meanwhile, Kelatlhilwe says they are in the process of registering their league with the World Chess Federation (FIDE) so as to make it a rated tournament. The registration with FIDE will mean that players taking part in the league, which will be entering its second successive season this year, will have their rankings improved if they perform well in the league. On other issues, the federation says it is currently looking for sponsors for their league. The sponsor will be filling the gap left by Mahindra Botswana who was sponsoring the league in the past year.
“We can officially confirm that we have parted ways with Mahindra Botswana after our one year sponsorship deal expired. We are appreciative of their investments in chess but we believe we have to move on,” Kelatlhilwe said. He says unlike the one year sponsorship deal they signed with Mahindra, they are this time around looking for a sponsor who can partner them for a longer period of at least two years to ensure stability in their league.