The Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) will next week launch its fiercest and toughest championship to date.
The tournament, which will be dubbed the Botswana Closed Tournament, will make its debut next weekend at the University of Botswana Student Centre.
According to the BCF Secretary General, Kelapile Kelatlhilwe, entry into the tournament is by invite only.
“This is our strongest tournament by far and only the top rated players in the country are invited. For this tournament, we are inviting just the top ten internationally rated players in both men and women to compete,” Kelatlhilwe said.
According to the BCF Secretary General, only players with an international rating beyond 21 points have been invited to compete in the inaugural championship.
“The reasoning behind this is that players rated beyond the mentioned entry points are closer to achieving the 2300 point mark required for a player to be awarded an international title and we want to push them to reach those rankings. It is also to help ensure that these players, most of whom are national team players, have a good opportunity for further growth,” he added.
With at least five former national champions per each category, Kelatlhilwe says the tournament is expected to give players their toughest tournament as they start their preparations for next year’s Chess Olympiad, which is billed for Istanbul, Turkey.
“As we gear up for the 2012 World Olympiad, the event will be one of the events which the federation will be using as a yardstick to access the players,” Kelatlhilwe said.
He says the tournament will also give all the top players a chance to ensure they make the Olympiad bound team as the winners are likely to be considered for the team.
“Whoever wins this tournament will be proving he is the best player in the local chess circles and will in all probabilities make the team,” Kelatlhilwe added.
According to the BCF Secretary General, the top ten payers who have made it in the men section are Ignatius Njobvu, Barileng Gaelafshwe, Phemelo Kheto, Ofentse Molale, Providence Oatlhotse, Tebogo Pitlagano, Moakofi Notha, Gomolemo Rongwane, Goabaone Tangane and Thato Olebile.
Njobvu, Gaealafshwe, Kheto, Oatlhotse and Molale are former national champions while Tangane and Olebile are junior national champion and runner up, respectively.
The ladies side we will see has highly rated ladies’ players, Woman Grandmaster Tuduetso Sabure, the newly crowned Woman International Master Boikhutso Mudongo, Woman Fide Masters Tshepiso Lopang and Kgalalelo Botlhole come face to face with the Francis sisters, Thapelo and Onkemetse, who are the reigning ladies national champion and junior national champion, respectively as well as the likes of Faith Mbakhwa, Ontiretse Sabure, Gorata Leso and Keitumetse Mokgacha to decide who is the best woman chess player in the country at the moment.
Meanwhile, Kelatlhilwe says the BCF is yet to find a sponsor for the tournament but said they are hopeful they will find someone before the tournament begins in Friday.
The BCF Secretary General, however, emphasised that whether the federation finds a sponsor or not, the tournament will go ahead.
The tournament is expected to start this coming Friday and will come to a close on Sunday.