Botswana youngsters competing at the 2016 African Schools Individual Chess Championships in Zambi this week lit up the fire against their African counterparts.
The local players started off the tournament in smooth sailing in different age categories. The likes of Tamuta Londani, Besa Masaiti and Atang Mosweu are among favourites to clinch individual titles after leading in the first few rounds of the tournament expected to round up today (Sunday).
At six rounds in a total of nine rounds of play, the Under-17 girls category has witnessed Londani torturing any player against her. The local youngster is leading the pack comfortably with the closest rivalry, Chipoya Ketty of Zambia, finding it tough to close the gap. The U-15 girl’s category is led by talented Women Candidate Master (WCM) Masaiti who is closely contesting for Gold with Kenyan Varsani Reanna Paaras. The duo after six rounds was locked at 5.5 points apiece at the top of the table.
Mosweu carried cracked the whip in the U- 9 girls as she led comfortably followed by Tanzanian Beukes Jamie-Nicole while Moshoboro Laone Phoebe is fighting hard to make a podium place in fourth position with three games to the end.
Botswana’s U-15 boy Tshepo Monare is in a tight contest to topple Zambian Keta Daniel. Monare placed on the second spot is locked on points with third-placed Nshikolola Mutailenu of Zambia.
In an unfamiliar position, the Marape siblings started slow at the tournament with WCM Naledi finding it challenging at third spot after six rounds in the U-13 girls category. Her brother Marape Junior is sitting at fifth position with three games to play before the end of the week-long championships.
Speaking to Sunday Standard in an interview, Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) spokesperson Keenese Katisenge said they had set a target to be among the best in Africa hence it is key to target grassroots and nurture them into experienced players of the future. ‘’ We have a strong partnership with the parents in chess who are helping us at development level .Our commitment as the current committee was to invest in grassroots development and we now produce players which area force to reckon with at international stage,” Katisenge said.
She added that: “We set ourselves a target of 5 medals at the championships and it should be well known that we are a federation which hosts frequent tournaments for our players locally and that helps in giving them game practice for regional events. We have set a standard that on an annual basis keep on sending our local players for international competitions and the experience and exposure they get assists in their growth”.