The Secretary General of the Botswana Chess Federation, Kelapile Kelatlhilwe, says the ongoing Commonwealth Chess Championships will give the national chess team a very good preparation ahead of the All Africa Games.
Speaking in a telephone interview from the team base in South Africa, the BCF Secretary General said the performance of the team in the ongoing championships gives hope that the team may meet or even surpass its target of two medals at the oncoming All Africa Games.
“The way the team is performing in these championships shows that we have the quality to do better at the All Africa Games. I believe that we will have a player in the top twenty when the tournament comes to an end on Sunday (today),” Kelatlhilwe said.
He further added that looking at the quality of opponents that the local team is facing, they are very optimistic that with more guidance, the team will be much better.
“Going into the All Africa Games, we are hopeful that we can get an experienced foreign coach to come work with the players and our local coaches in our final preparations. It is not that we do not have faith in our local coaches; it is only that we need someone who has a high ranking and who has vast experience at the highest level to move us further up,” the BCF Secretary General said.
Concerning the ongoing Commonwealth championships, Kelatlhilwe says so far, many of the team members have dispensed themselves very well and could have done even much better had they played according to their strengths. By Thursday after the 8th round, local lads Moakofhi Notha and Thabo Gumpo had amassed 6 points out of a possible 8 each, placing both players in a good chance to finish in the top twenty. Not lagging far behind the duo is Providence Oatlhotse who has amassed 5.5 out of 8 while Ignatius Njobvu is close behind him with 5 points.
“Oatlhotse could have done better than he has done at the moment had he not lost focus. He started very well but I believe he lost his way after losing a game,” Kelatlhilwe said when assessing the individual performances of his team.
He, however, says the fact that Oatlhotse managed to beat, among others, an International Master shows that he can achieve a lot better.
Kelatlhilwe says he has been impressed by the performances of both Notha and Gumpo who he says have had a very good tournament.
“Notha has been doing quite well and won games though he (Notha) has been feeling he is not convincing,” the BCF Secretary General continued. “Njobvu on the other hand lost one game to a Grand Master and then lost one game unnecessarily and this set him back a bit.”
Another player whose discipline has impressed has been Barileng
Gaealafshwe who, it is said, has been much disciplined throughout the
“He (Gaealafshwe) has been playing very cautiously and has been
taking no risks,” Kelatlhilwe added.
Meanwhile, the BCF Secretary General says local ladies have
also impressed at the championships. He says considering that they (ladies)
have been battling against male opponents, their performance is exceptional.
So far, Boikhutso Mudongo leads the local ladies’ pack having amassed 5 points out of a possible nine while Kgalalelo Botlhole and Onkemetse Francis are close behind her having amassed 4.5 and 4 points respectively. Kelatlhilwe says their hope as the BCF is that at the end of the championship, each player should have amassed at least a minimum of 50 percent points from all game points. The championship is expected to come to a close today (Sunday) and the Botswana team is expected back in the country tomorrow.