Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) has started preparations for a 12 member team of young boys and girls aged 6-17 years to compete at the upcoming 2016 Africa youth chess championships.
The championships will be held in Port Elizabeth and Eastern Cape in South Africa from the 21st to the 29th August.
Held under the age categories of Under 8, 10, 12, 14, 16 and 18, Botswana will send two players in each category.
The squad was finalised after selection finals that were held a week ago and the team was released from camp this week after taking part at the MaterSpei College chess festival this past weekend.
Botswana will be represented by Thuto Mpene, Tlhalefo Nkwane (Under 8), Naledi Marape, Tefo Pitlagano (Under 10), Botlhe Lekang, Ruth Otliditswe (Under 12), Besa Masaiti, Marape Marape Jnr (under 14), Romeo Makgobi, Susan Sethebe (Under 16) as well as Palesa Mooketsi and Karabo Sakuze in the under 18 category.
BCF Spokesperson Keenese Katiseng told The Telegraph Sport that the team is engaged in intense preparations ahead of the championships.
“In our continued effort to produce quality players, BCF and Mater Spei have adopted the international standard of running youth chess tournaments. The youth national team was competing at the Mater Spei chess festival to sharpen up. We used the 2016 festival as part of preparations for the 2016 African Youth Chess Championships. The young players had to play long games of 3 hours per game over a 4 day tournament duration to test their character,” said Katisenge.
The Mater Spei Chess Festival tournament is open to all students from pre-primary to senior secondary schools and is divided into 3 sections, being Pre-Primary and Primary individual Section, Junior schools teams Section and Senior Schools Teams Section. The Pre-Primary and Primary Schools Individual section uses a Swiss individual play format while Junior and Senior Schools Teams sections use Swiss teams play format.
Katisenge explained that the BCF will continue using the youth tournaments for both talent identification and team preparations. She said the youth championships are very critical in the BCF calendar of events as they assist the Federation to monitor players’ growth in the game. “Such championships really assist a lot in terms of talent identification, they assist in players progress and monitoring which is very crucial for a players growth. We are able to pick during long games were we need to concentrate when we do training and coaching clinics. Our development director compiles reports through these events that guide the federation’s plans for training and development,” said Katisenge.
As part of the team preparations, the BCF spokesperson said that the team will be heading to Maun to compete at an international open.
“After competing at the 2016 Maun International Open Chess Championships from 16-18 July, the team will then go on camp. Since most of our players are student, our intension is to use events such as these for preparations. We also believe trainings by personal coaches at school and home are critical as we are heading for crucial championships,” concluded Katisenge.