It is too early to judge, but Botswana ladies’ senior chess team already looks on course to win a medal at the All Africa Games (AAG) in Mozambique.
Having played three games and losing only one, the team is perched on third position overall and seems likely to go all the way. Since the team started its medal glory campaign at the games on Tuesday, it has beaten South Africa and Mozambique and lost a single game to African chess powerhouse Egypt.
Against South Africa in their opening match, Botswana ladies won two games, drew one and lost one. The team then went on to beat hosts Mozambique the following day, winning by three points to one.
The team, however, suffered reversals of fortunes in their next encounter with Egypt as they lost three of their four games and drew one to lose the match by 3,5 points to Botswana’s 0,5.
According to the Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) President Tshepo Sitale, the best performer in Botswana ladies’ team this far has been Ontiretse Sabure.
In the games played this far, Sabure is yet to lose a game, having won two games and was the only one not to have lost against Egypt as she played a draw. Sitale says with Egypt being the strongest team in the group and having already played it, they are hopeful that they can do better in the next games.
Sitale is full of praise for the whole ladies team saying they are playing together as a unit.
“Against South Africa, it was the experience of the likes of Boikhutso Mudongo which really helped the team. The ladies are complementing each other very well,” Sitale said.
While things seem to be going well for the ladies, the men’s team, on the other hand, has found the going very tough. With the team having gone to the games without the experienced senior team player, Ignatius Njobvu, the team had to do without a reserve player and is struggling. According to Sitale, so far, the team has lost two of their opening three (3) games against South Africa and Zimbabwe by 1, 5 points to 2, 5 and 0, 5 to 3, 5, respectively.
The men’s team won only one game, a resounding 4 points to 0 against Ghana.
Njobvu, who is a teacher, was left behind after his employer refused to grant him permission to go to the games.
The BCF President says so far, Moakofi Notha has been very outstanding in the men’s team as he has won only one game and drawing two in the process. Despite the men’s slow start to the games, Sitale says he is optimistic something can still be salvaged.
“It is still too early as there are still six more games to play. The team is doing its best and we are still very hopeful we can come out with a positive result,” Sitale said.
The Botswana senior chess team is expected to bring at least one medal from the All Africa Games as per the high performance target set by the Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC).