Chess International Master (IM) Providence Oatlhotse has returned to the board after a year-long absence in the game.
The veteran produced a seven out of eight games winning streak to pocket the Airfficiency Chess Championship open section. Oatlhotse returned with a seven-round win over the eight organised by the Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) played at the University of Botswana over the weekend.
Oatlhotse revealed that despite his absence from open tournaments last year, he was not lost to the game as he was actively engaged with chess with the analysis aspect.
“I have been doing a lot of analysing the game and played more games online to sharpen up so I will be competing in many tournaments this season,” said Oatlhotse.
He said his intension is to get back to his best by playing more often to improve his ratings. “I am hoping to play more often this season to improve my ratings. I have been working hard behind the scenes and winning the first event of the year is motivating.
“This is a bold statement that I will be challenging for titles this season. I am aware that there are a couple of good and strong players but my triumph over the weekend will leave my opponents thinking hard about how this season will unfold,” Oatlhotse told The Telegraph Sports.
He concluded by revealing that just within a space of one year it is visible that chess in Botswana has taken a leap to another level.
“It is unbelievable to witness the growth of local chess. I have been away for a few months and it is clear that the sport has grown with fantastic young players proving their mettle. The BCF must be commended for their efforts after witnessing such great passion and electrifying environment at the championship,” said Oatlhotse.
For her part, BCF spokesperson Keenese Katisenge revealed that the opener continue to showcase growth as it attracts players from across the region and some from Europe.
“The event had attracted a total of 207 players from Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa, Malawi, Mozambique and Italy. By attracting players from as far as Europe proves that local chess is recognised internationally,” said Katisenge.
She added that they were pleased with the support from neighbouring countries.
“We are also happy that our players managed to keep the trophies at home showing growth in their level of play. We are grateful to Airfficiency for their continued support,” concluded Katisenge.