A battle of knights, bishops and pawns is ongoing at the Botswana National Productivity Center (BNPC) as future African strategists take on each other in the 2nd Edition of the Africa Youth Chess championships. With chess being a battle of the brains, characterised by moves and counter moves, whoever will be the last boy or girl standing when the last ‘mate’ is shouted will walk away as the continent’s junior chess queen or queen.
This year’s championships, a first to be hosted by the Botswana Chess Federation, have attracted more than 80 young chess brains from across the continent.
As hosts, Botswana has a high number of representatives in the championships with at least 27 young locals expected to take part.
The championships, which were officially opened yesterday (Saturday), are expected to conclude next week Saturday.
The Botswana team, which brought only one medal during the inaugural championships in South Africa, is hoping to go one step further this time around.
The team, which has had very good preparations and has very good young players, will, however, be wary of the challenges ahead, as many of the team members are making their maiden appearance on the international arena.
The team boasts of, among others, the only medal winner from the previous championship, Rosa Nthite as well as Luyanda Notha and Abhiram Sasitharan, who recently participated at the 6th World School Chess Championships at Kayseri, Turkey.
The Botswana team is composed of 12 female players and 15 male players with the youngest being 8-year-old Kutlo Van Ooteghem.
Despite hosting the championships, the Botswana team goes into the tournament as underdogs and will have to give all the best they can if they are to beat some of Africa’s powerhouses in South Africa, Algeria and Libya just to name a few.
Conspicuous by their absence in the tournament, however, will be the Egyptians.
The Islamic country’s participation is believed to have been hampered by the ongoing Islamic holy fasting month of Ramadan.
The Botswana team goes into the tournament without pressure, something which was emphasised by the Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC) Chief Executive Officer, Kitso Kemoen, when launching the team this past Thursday.
Moen told the team all that the nation expects from them is to give it all their best, whether they win or lose, adding that a gold medal won without the winner giving his best will be unacceptable.
The local team, which is managed by Tshimologo Kolaatamo, has a very talented technical team which includes the likes of Ignatius Njobvu, Baone Kealeboga, Rabi, Providence Oatlhotswe and Israel Makwati.