Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Chess Federation kicks off calendar year next weekend

The Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) will kick off its calendar year next weekend when it host its second annual year opener at Yarona Lodge. The event, which has been sponsored to the tune of P10 00 by Air Efficiency and is open for all, is, according to BCF president, Tshepo Sitale, used to gauge the strength of players ahead of the hectic yearly events.

“This is a rated tournament and we expect most of our recognised players to take part in it alongside those who are trying to make their way into our national set ups,” Sitale said in an interview.

Unlike other events, the championship will not be divided into categories but will give chance for all players of different strengths, capabilities and ranking to play against each other.

Regarding the developmental players and other young players, Sitale says while this will be an open championship, they will ensure that the best performing junior athletes are rewarded with prizes for their efforts. He added that winners of the tournament will be awarded prizes, though his federation has not yet decided the price categories.

On other issues, Sitale says his federation will be looking to increase player participation and grow its popularity during the current year. He says having started a league in the past year, the BCF will now be seeking to strengthen existing clubs while also establishing new ones.

According to the BCF chief, they will this year put more focus on improving the status and performance of senior chess players whose growth he says has been ignored.

“We already have a big pool of juniors but the same cannot be said of our senior teams’ players. We intend to strengthen this area and put more effort to improve the current crop of senior players,” Sitale told Standard Sport.

He, however, expressed concern that they will have major problems when it comes to their school-based youth clubs due to the government-teachers impasse.

He says as such, they will be looking for other ways of increasing the participation of players at the grassroots outside the school system. He says they also intend to work with the Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC) to establish grassroots development system in the mould of Re Ba Bona Ha to seek and nurture talent at an early age.

Meanwhile, Sitale says the BCF will this year host the zonal chess championships for senior players. The event, he says, will be graced by national team players from the Southern African region as well as others from as far as Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and other countries in their proximity. He says the event will be followed by the senior team’s participation in other major competitions like the Commonwealth Games in July and the All Africa Games in August/September in South Africa and Mozambique, respectively.


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